Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Well, I'm officially home again, but I'm pretty sure I left my heart at the Ranch. It's been so hard for me to even think about "normal" life again. I've had a few hard days trying to get back into the swing of things but it seems that everytime I try, I see the face of one of the kids and I just lose it. Here's the letter I wrote to my family...it pretty much sums up everything that happened this week...now you'll have to be patient with me as I try to sort through 692 pictures to select some to post

First of all, I just want to say thank you for supporting me and praying for me while I was in Mexico. It meant a lot to me to receive so much support from my family and friends. The week I spent at Rancho 3M was the most amazing week of my life! I honestly would spend the rest of my life there if I could.
My week started on Saturday afternoon, with my first plane ride. I am very grateful to say that we had a very smooth flight…God was definitely watching out for me! After a 6 hour layover in the Atlanta airport, we made the almost 3 hour flight to El Paso where we met Dean Ademeck. Dean currently serves as the leader of Rancho 3M’s orphanage, school, and church along with his wife, Denise, and their three sons: Taylor, Jeremiah, and Daniel. Shortly after meeting Dean and some quick instructions, we loaded up three 15-passenger vans, and began our journey across the border. We were able to cross over into Juarez with no trouble and we arrived at the Ranch around 12:15am...which means that it was 2:15am in Charlotte.
This year, Rancho 3M is celebrating it’s 40th year anniversary. We were able to stay in one of the original adobe buildings for the week, which was pretty exciting. The lack of “creature comforts” would probably scare off some, but it was such a refreshing time, it gave me a whole new perspective on life. At the Ranch, we had 3 minutes of running water per shower. If someone went over, we wouldn’t have any water in our dorm until much later. When I got back into the states, it was so hard for me to take a regular shower, knowing that back at the Ranch, they had to conserve as much water as they could…I felt as if I were using too much water, just letting it run constantly.
We also had to be super careful not to drink any water down there. The water in Mexico has traces of arsenic and other unpleasant things running through it. So we were super careful to brush our teeth in bottled water, and rinse our dishes with a special solution of water and bleach. It scared me so bad when one of the kids just drank out of the outside faucet, but one of the interns then told me that it is because of the water that the kids have such strong immune systems and rarely get sick.
Sunday was pretty cool, we got to play with the kids before church…church was such a sweet time even if there were things lost in translation. In the afternoon, I accompanied 6 others into El Paso to help with errands to prepare for the coming work days.
We began working on Monday…our days started with breakfast at 7, and shortly after breakfast we all met for assignments and prayer. Each day, we prayed for 2 things, something at the Ranch, and something back home. After our meeting, we each got to work on our projects. I was on the painting crew as well as the dance team. The fence we painted was probably a mile around, and it was made of probably 20 rebar poles in each section of fence. We primed and then painted each section from 9am-1pm, and then again from 3pm-5 or 6pm every day. From 1pm-3pm each afternoon we had lunch and then a special worship and sharing time. It was cool to hear how God was meeting people each day. At 5, the dance team gathered all of the girls that we could find…I think we ended up with about 15 or so…and taught them dance for an hour in the church building. After dance, the calls rang out “a la mesa!” which basically means “dinner time!” After dinner, we pretty much just hung out with the kids.
On Thursday night, we got to give a little dance program for everyone at the Ranch, the girls did such a good job! After the dance, we made a huge bonfire and made s’mores with the kids…there was chocolate EVERYWHERE! It was so cute! It was also a bittersweet night because it was the last time we would get to hug the kids goodnight. Friday, we had planned a special surprise for the kids…a water gun fight! They loved it! It was so much fun seeing the smiles and hearing the squeals of joy. We even got to eat lunch with the kids…something that we hadn’t gotten to do all week…and hang out with them before heading to El Paso for the night. We flew back on Saturday and most of us arrived back in Charlotte around 4:30pm.
The kids were so sweet, I totally fell in love with them! There was this little girl named Christina (see photo) who attached herself to me practically the first second she saw me. She is 6 years old and the sweetest and most beautiful girl in the whole place! I love her to death! She has two brothers at the Ranch: Angel (we called him Tigger because he wouldn’t tell us his name at first) who is 7 and Raul who is 9. The other kids were so much fun, Chuy (pronounced Chewy) is the coolest little guy ever! Estrella (pronounced A-stray-ya…it means star) has the chubbiest cheeks you’ll ever see, and both the Jose’s are both absolutely crazy!
The highlight of my week was probably on Thursday night after the bonfire, a couple of the girls were talking to one of the older guys named Cesar. He mentioned that he wasn’t sure if he was a Christian or not…through this open door, the girls went to go get one of the pastors and our translator to come out and they were able to share the gospel with him and talk to him well into the night. Cesar became a Christian that night which is so exciting! It just makes everything even more worth it to see someone led to Christ. Dean told us that it was such an encouragement that Cesar was saved because Cesar is kind of the leader of the older boys and in the past he has led them in the wrong way. Now that the leader is saved, who knows what will happen now! I look forward to see God’s plan at work in the years to come and how God will use Cesar at the Ranch.
It totally left me in amazement to see how content and happy these kids are. All they have is the clothes on their back and one another…and that’s all they need to be happy. These kids can fit the entirety of their earthly possessions in a shoebox. It makes me sad coming back to America where everyone can be so self-focused and greedy. I hope my point of view is forever changed because of Mexico…I honestly cannot wait to go back! I may be back in Charlotte, but my heart never left the Ranch. Thanks again for your prayers…Love you guys!

No comments: