Chicago faithful build home for Project Mexico
CHICAGO, IL [MW Diocese Communications] — Priest John Baker and faithful from Christ the Savior Church here recently returned from a mission trip to Project Mexico, where they built a house for a needy family.
The following is an account by Father John’s daughter, Scout, of their week of dedicated ministry during Project Mexico’s 25th anniversary year. Scout is a sophomore at the Latin School of Chicago.
“From July 31 to August 6, 2013, I traveled with my dad, Father John Baker, and younger brother to Tijuana, Mexico with a group from our parish to participate in a short term mission trip to build a house for a family in need, organized by Project Mexico and Saint Innocent Orphanage. This was my first time going out of the country, so I was really excited.
“Project Mexico is a not-for-profit Orthodox charity. The group organizes times for people to go down to Tijuana in order to build houses. This year was extra special because it was Project Mexico’s 25th anniversary. My group got to build the 249th house. While close to 250 people participate in such trips each year, this year set a record, with some 500 participants erecting 25 houses.
“We camped out at Saint Innocent Boys’ Orphanage for the week. Our days began rather early and were filled with things to do. Every day, we woke up at 6:30 a.m. and went to prayers at 7:15 a.m. We ate breakfast and did chores, finishing at about 10:00. By 10:30, we had loaded into the large, white, slightly creepy looking van and were off to the work site. The drive over was full of gigantic speed bumps and mountain turns that would have brought even a thrill seeker to his knees!
“We built a house for a very sweet family of five. Monica and Juan and their super adorable children Sydney, Amery and Juan. Monica was the only one in the family who spoke even a little bit of English, so communication was an interesting challenge. They live in a close knit community, and a lot of their neighbors came over to help us. I set the record for lunch as the fastest sandwich maker in the entire group — I made 50 sandwiches in under 10 minutes!
“Daily, we returned to our base camp at around 4:00 p.m. After a freezing cold shower I played football — “soccer” for you English speakers! — with the boys who live in the orphanage. They are so good, it’s kinda scary! But I think I improved my game. I am not scared of the ball anymore!
“The food was great — we had beans with everything including tortillas, rice, pork, and yes, there were bean popsicles [ewwww!]. I wasn’t one of the ones who tried them, as I stuck with chocolate ice cream, but I hear they were great! I’m not complaining, though, as the beans were pretty good, which begs the question: Why does everything taste better in Mexico?
“We had a variety of evening activities. One evening was a game night with the boys, while another was devoted to making s’mores around a camp fire. On the last night, we took the boys out for dinner at an amazing buffet. The time we spent with the boys who live at the orphanage was so much fun!
“A word to the wise: Bring a sweatshirt and dress in layers when you go to Northern Mexico or Southern California because the temperatures can drop at night, over 30 or 40 degrees. Also, bring a warm sleeping bag — I may have gotten frostbite if I hadn’t!
“On Sunday, we visited a market in Rosario, which is a small resort town next to Tijuana, and let me tell you, it is nothing like the farmers’ market! You can “haggle” — argue ferociously — over blankets, backpacks, jumping beans, brass knuckles, hammocks, anything you can think of. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I got a $25.00 hand-woven blanket for $10.00!”