It was about 5:30PM on an October day in the Mexican desert. We had been grinding a slab of concrete flat all day (imagine what a 10,000sf slab placed with volunteer labor looks like). We were nearly out of propane for our grinding machines, so Steve, the guy who has coordinated this whole thing brought me into the dusty little town of Guadalupe to get more.
Steve’s got the same Northern accent I do (I grew up in Minnesota; he’s from Michigan or Pennsylvania or something) so the conversation is fun and easy as we bounce down the gravel roads in his truck. Most of the small talk leads to tear-jerking stories as he has been serving this area for around 30 years and he has seen a lot of terrible things.
The little town looks like a war zone - it is a bit surreal. I felt no fear, but some wispy sadness that it all looked so beat down. On our way to the gas station, Steve seems to know everyone on the street. One man gets called over to the truck and gets in the back seat. I speak almost no Spanish and this guy apparently speaks no English as Steve tells me his story when he gets in the truck like he is not even there.
In 2011, there was a sea change with the cartels. Violence swept through the area unlike anything anyone there had seen. This guy in the back seat was beaten with bats and left for dead, and somehow survived. He can barely walk, his brain is damaged, his one arm is useless and the other hand is not exactly strong, but he is clearly a sweet, happy, loving human being. And though he is not a physically strong man, he carries himself like someone that would not take a hand-out easily. Steve pays him to work on the orphanage (Casa De Los Gemas) as he can afford to, and the man earns his food by sweeping, sanding, and picking up.
When the violence really came 5 years ago, the teams of volunteers to help build this place was decimated. Of course the number of orphans exploded, and the regular economy was taken from bad to worse. Following Jesus and yet being afraid to go do His work somewhere because of drug-trade violence seems ridiculous to me, but I understand I am less risk-averse than most.
So here is the solution to finish this place: give them money to pay locals to build it rather than having it built by amateurs “working on vacation”. This gives the local economy a badly needed injection, while GETTING IT DONE.
If you want to go to the desert and work, Steven will take your help: he’s been putting Gringos to work down there for decades. But If you are scared or busy or just want to help in the most efficient way possible, send $8 or $80 or $800,000 or whatever you know you should send today. Please. There are 100s of kids that need to come home to this place. IT HAS BEEN A JOB-SITE FOR 20 YEARS NOW, AND NEEDS TO BECOME AN ORPHANAGE.
This trip to the gas station is one of dozens of stories from this past week. I will be working first thing every morning until I figure out how to most powerfully share the urgency in bullet points for a gofundme.com page. You apparently get it right now, though. please go to www.tapestriesoflife.com to learn more or contribute now. You have been blessed to be a blessing. These kids need your help. Please step up.