That being said, wow, What a whirlwind couple of days! Each home presented different challenges and learning opportunities, and at this moment it's all a huge blur. Shovel gravel or sand, grab a wheel barrow, lug some buckets of water, clear debris, go, go, go. There were times when we were all sort of wandering aimlessly bumping into each other- stepping on toes, but only because we all wanted to contribute as much as each of us possibly could. As we moved from home to home, we definitely found our groove, and developed systems and strategies to help each other do the best we possibly could. As Walter said this morning, "another week and we'd be really good at this!" Each floor we completed taught us something new about the process, and about each other. And as corny as this may sound, man it really was all about TEAMwork.
This trip has been a really beautiful experience (I say this with blisters on both my hands and feet, while covered in concrete). It's been a lesson in both humility and humanity; the conditions that these people are living in is totally heartbreaking and no words or photos could ever truly demonstrate that. One of the last houses we worked on was literally built upon trash from the dump- the giant mountain of Mexico City's waste was the view. A stream of sewage and who knows what trickling through their back yard. The home was built from fabric, old mattresses turned on their sides, and scraps of wood and metal. And here come these strange gringos treking through their home with loads of concrete to build them a floor for one of the small rooms of this little shanty- their home. And it's astonishing to me to think of something like a concrete floor as a luxury.
When Rejuvenation announced that they were sponsoring this trip, my immediate reaction was, "I HAVE to go", but after not making the cut for the New Orleans trip, I thought it was unlikely that I'd find myself a member of the Mexico Team. Trying to articulate why it was i wanted to participate was really difficult, because to be completely honest, I wasn't really sure myself. Everything about my life has changed so drastically over the past three years. My "old life" was good. Comfortable and familiar, yet I felt so empty inside, like there was something else I should have been doing- some greater purpose than merely existing- owning a home and collecting nice things. I abandoned all things familiar and moved to Portland to do some soul searching and while I've gotten reacquainted with myself and found myself working for this really great company; a company with a soul that employs some of the most incredible people i've ever had the good fortune to know and collaborate with, I guess I saw this trip as a chance to do some tangible good.
It's so easy to "do good" by donating money or material objects, but to contribute some part of yourself and become emotionally invested by helping these families build something that will really improve their quality of life, it's been an absolute joy! I've gained so much myself in terms of compassion and knowledge that it hasn't felt like work at all. And to think of the things in my life that were troubling me prior to this trip, well, I have to confess I'm a little embarrassed. I wanted new perspective and a better understanding of a foreign culture...all can say is WOW! I am walking away from this experience truly humbled, and grateful- for so may things.
You may not work with them directly or get the opportunity to know them well but Walter, Lisa, Megan, Steve, Christopher, Cisco, Channy, Donna, Foley, and (last but certainly not least) Toby are some seriously amazing folks! Intelligent and passionate, not just about their day to day work at Rejuvenation, but about so many other things that would just astound you. Sharing this experience with them has grounded me and made me a better person.
I am so happy to call you guys my team mates- both here in Mexico City and back at home.
(Takes deep breath)
We all came here not knowing what to expect, perhaps a little scared and unsure of whether our decisions to participate was the right move, but we did know we were building some floors and were in for an adventure. All i can say is great work and Mission Accomplished!
Thanks for letting me guest blog.