Roofs Over Their Heads – Ensenada, Mexico 2007

Homes of Hope, YWAM Baja

A sketch I did from one of Megan [Kenagy] Ralston's photos.
A sketch I did from one of Megan [Kenagy] Ralston’s photos.
3-19-07

A soft chilly breeze prompted me to keep moving; even though my bloated duffel bag was already in the luggage compartment of one of the two charter buses parked in front of Canyon View Vineyard Church at about 6:30 am on March 10, 2007.

The charter buses at the first rest stop on I70. Photo by Josh Norton.

In the previous planning meetings for the trip on which I was about to embark, I learned there were nearly 100 people going and now I watched them arrive and start to realize there wasn’t room on the bus for that much luggage. I had often wondered about the logistics of this many people, ranging from about 6 years old to probably over 50, traveling together.
Tim Nutting, the man heading up the project, was just over 30 years old yet had the details pinned down. He had already divided the group into four teams, team number 4 being headed up by the churche’s Young Adult Coordinator, Nate Ralston. When it was discovered that we would need one of the church’s 15 passenger vans for extra luggage space, Nate was called on to drive. He immediately elected me as his co-pilot because I had previously been approved to drive the church vans.

10-22-12

As I continue writing about this five years later, I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot. What I remember most about the drive down was Nate & I listening to Rob Bell and discussing what we thought and then stopping in St. George, Utah. It wasn’t my first time in St. George, but a quick stop at Wal Mart & seeing the Morman merchandise got us to discussing Mormanism for much of trip after that.

When we got near the border in southern California we had to get all 90 something people off the charter buses and into nine 15 passenger vans. Then it was time to cross the border into Tijuana. I remember the first thing we saw was the giant guarded border fence and a little further down the highway was the giant Jesus statue much like the “Chris the Redeemer” of Rio De Jeniro only way smaller.

Christ the Redeemer of the Baja. Photo by Rich Tift.

Some of the other first things I noticed had to do with what seemed to be the contradictions of small bits of affluence in this third world country where we expected nothing but poverty. When we got down to Ensenada we found out there was a shopping center with a Burger King, Home Depot, Costco and Wl Mart!

I was shocked to see an H3 in such a poverty stricken country.
Horses “parked” at wall near the road.

Finally we showed up at the Youth With a Mission base near the beach in Ensenada. As we got out & stretched & began unpacking, I remember being a little afraid of what our living conditions would be like this next week. My first impression was that this place was just very dirty.

Youth With A Mission Baja Base. Photo by Josh Norton.
Everything around the YWAM Base was covered in dust.

The place wasn’t bad & don’t remember having any problem sleeping.

The first day our group was split into 4 teams. My team visited an orphanage that first day. This was my firs taste of seeing what real poverty is. I wasn’t so much struck by the crappy roads & trash everywhere (you see that in bad parts of just about any city in the US). What hit me was the “houses” – little more than scraps of wood tied or nailed together with tarps covering any holes in the roofs. And then there were children everywhere in the streets, barefoot and playing in what we would call the dump.

Children of the Ensenada Slum. Photo by Josh Norton
Children of the Ensenada Slum. Photo by Josh Norton

I noticed immediately something about the children that was different from kids you might see out playing the US. They seemed to have a certain naive or innocent niceness about them. They would flash a huge smile and wave at us strangers.

Inside the gates of the orphanage our team offered the staff any help they needed. Some of the women in our group went into the nursery and held babies. Many of us went out to the playground and just had fun with the kids. The first thing we noticed about the playground is that it was practically *in* the dump that ran the ravine next to the orphanage. We got to work picking out and burning as much garbage as we could. Then a couple of us guys noticed the plastic slide in the playground was broken. We didn’t have any tools but decided that we could probably fix it by piling sand up behind it.

A few of us guys on the team noticed the slide was broken & did what we could to fix it.
A few of us guys on the team noticed the slide was broken & did what we could to fix it. Photo by Lucee [Tangwall] Church
After that we had a good time just playing with the orphan kids.

I asked this little guy "Como se llama?" and he said "Hernando" rolling his "R" perfectly.
I asked this little guy “Como se llama?” and he said “Hernando” rolling his “R” perfectly. Photo by Janelle Keisling

When we were all done at the orphanage we got to go site seeing in the afternoon. We were taken to La  Bufadora which is  a place where the tides from the ocean smash into a certain place in a rocky cliff causing the water to spout straight up into the air.

Getting soaked at La Bufadora.
Getting soaked at La Bufadora. Picture by Lucee [Tangwall] Church
Me, Cesar (one of our translators) and Nate help each other after a a day of souvenir shopping.
Me, Cesar (one of our translators) and Nate help each other after a a day of souvenir shopping. Photo Meagan [Kenagy] Ralston
….to be continued!

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