WOW! Today was great! It was the first day on the worksite and at the school in Arroyo Seco. In the morning I was at the school with half of the team doing activities with the kids and then at the worksite constructing the home in the afternoon. It was clearly displayed that everyone felt the heat while we smooth coated walls, laid bricks, mixed cement, and assembled the metal rod supports for the house! Everyone was a sweaty, red mess by the end of the day; this is a sure sign of a hard day’s work. I am very proud of how hard everyone worked, and I am glad that everyone was impacted in some way throughout the day. I can sense the growth among each individual on our team, including myself. We are all getting to know the families we are building for, having some fun, and taking the time to understand and respect each other and the people we are working with.
The two main highlights of my day were reconnecting with a little boy named Francisco (who I met last year) and getting to see another side of the grandma of the family we are building for. I was extremely excited to get to the school today because I wanted to see Francisco. Although I was very excited, I was even more nervous. I was nervous that he would not remember me and honestly that would have crushed me. Fortunately, he did remember me and it put me on cloud nine for the rest of the day! I spent only 6 days with this young boy and he is surrounded by hundreds of people in the duration of a year, and I have not seen or communicated with him the entire year. Yet he still remembered my face and my name! We played the entire morning and even a little more in the afternoon. Francisco showed me what appreciation really feels like, and appreciation is a huge thing among EVERYONE in Arroyo Seco. This is something I value because it has become somewhat lost in the “Western World.” If people could just put down the technology and appreciate life in general there would be a lot of positive change.
In addition to the appreciation, dedication and fun really stuck out to me. Not only was it displayed by the team but by the family. The really show that they appreciate us being there helping them get a new home. They show this by being there at the worksite all day helping us with every task. Let me tell you, I am not exaggerating this at all. Miguel, the boy whose family we are building for, and his sisters, aunts, mother, and close friends were ALL mixing cement, lugging buckets, lifting bricks, and sifting sand. It kept me highly motivated to be working there because of the family’s participation. It has become a very personal build already. The family maintains high levels of enthusiasm and fun while we work.
The funniest story if the day involved Cecelia, Miguel’s grandmother. Cecelia is a visibly elderly lady who is very loving and kind, and she displays complete innocence. She surprised us all today. The workday was nearly over, and we were all cleaning up. A close friend of the family had been working with us all day, and was just leaving the work site, walking towards bottom of the hill. He was being a little silly (we all were) when Cecelia bent over, picked up a rock about the size of a softball and threw it about 20+ feet at the friend of the family. The rock hit him without hurting him much, but it stopped his sillyness right away! We were all shocked but laughing at how she was joining in on the fun. Immediatley after she hit him she kneeled with one knee to the ground and did the wrung up fist pump celebration that ice hockey players often used, as if to say ‘yeah, I got him!’ This was hilarious for us to see because we knew it was all for fun! She is an awesome person and I am grateful to be building for her family. I know the entire team is eager to keep going and lifting those buckets of sand up and down the hill! I am very proud of everyone! Tomorrow is garbage dump day, so I expect it to be very emotional, but an eye opening experience for everyone on the team.