Good evening, everybody!
So those of you who have followed me for a bit, or who have friended me on Facebook a while ago, have not yet seen me go live. I’ve obviously done some posts here and there, but I figure it’s time to connect with you guys, one on one. It’s a new year; turn over a new leaf, and let’s really get to know each other.
I have recently, as I posted yesterday, come back from a humanitarian project in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, and — oh, my gosh, so good! So good! I’ll try to summarize what we did without getting too in-depth, because I don’t want to tell you, like, the size of the block that we laid and stuff, right? That seems a little silly.
We started last week. On Tuesday I traveled from northern Utah down to Phoenix, Arizona, stayed overnight, and then got a rental car. I picked some people up at the airport and so on, and we headed down to Puerto Peñasco. We checked in, made sure we signed waivers and things saying, “We’re OK. We realize that there are certain risks when you’re on a construction site”, and stuff like that, of course.
And we hung out a little bit, too, that night. And it’s fun to get to know people and to spend time with them, obviously, but the real treat came the next day. We took the entirety of everybody who went on the trip and divided them into two groups, so Group 1 and Group 2. On Day 1 (so the first day after check-in), I was in Group 2. We went into Puerto Peñasco but didn’t go to the construction site; that’s what Group 1 did the first day. They did the foundations and the first half of the walls of four different houses.
My group instead hung a right, and we met in this building where we assembled these food packages. There was a basket, oh, probably about this big [hands gesture about 12″ diameter and 12″ deep] — let me center on the camera so you can see. [So a basket] about that big, maybe, in which we put things like—
I don’t know what you call it, a “cluster” of garlic? Whatever you call it: a
“flower” of garlic? I don’t know what it’s called. The whole thing, that has several cloves in it, right? You have to peel it and stuff. So we put one of those in there, and a couple of onions about this big [hands gesture about 6″ in diameter] (so decently sized onions). We put some — I want to say cilantro, but I’m not totally positive. Anyway, we put some things like that in one basket, including a couple of things for cocoa.
And then, we had a big garbage bag, and in that we put larger items. So there was boxed milk, there was a bag of tortilla chips, and so on. These all got put in the larger bag, like a garbage bag. And then we went over and loaded those on the truck. After all that food was assembled, we went with the trucks and we drove over to the site where we were going to distribute the food.
Now, while we began assembling these food packages, a small percentage of us (I don’t know, eight to ten people roughly?) went first to where the food was going to be distributed and they handed out tickets. So anybody with a ticket qualified to get food items. So it was really exciting for them: a bunch of people came and lined up and so on. I might be misremembering now, but I think it was 25 tickets and then some extra food packages left over to be handed out as well, beyond the initial tickets.
So when we drove over with the trucks, anybody who had a ticket came up to us. We handed them the basket, and the garbage bag, and then they had a second garbage bag that had meat, like a haunch of ham, or a chicken, or something like that in it. And they took that home. My understanding is that was able to feed that family for about a month. They, I think, have refrigeration, these people that had the tickets, so they’re able to store the meat long term (like in a freezer).
That was the first day that we were actually doing service. The second day, we then went to the job site while Group 1 (that had been on the job site the day before) went and did what we did on Day 1. And we finished the last half of the
walls. The way we did it — I can’t speak about foundations because I didn’t work on them that day — but after the foundations, the walls were basically cinder blocks with mortar, all kind of bricked up and around, and there was rebar also down in several places, as well as some piping, little holes for electrical outlets, and so on.
And then, after we had gotten the walls as high as they were going to go (and tried to make sure they were roughly straight), then we poured cement down inside to solidify the whole thing, so the walls actually became solid concrete walls, and not just hollow, like the cinder blocks would have had them be, right?
And then the third day, we spent about six or seven hours (maybe eight, but I think it was about seven hours) putting beams across and putting plywood across the beams. So basically, we did the roof. Now, the houses weren’t totally finished when we left, but they get finished by actual workers in Mexico in the mean time. Because we had a limited amount of time to work on them before we departed, we left that other work (stucco, electrical and plumbing, tar paper on the roofs and so on) for the workers in Mexico who were there after we took off. That allowed us to do, really, the grunt work, and they worked on the more fine-tuned, finishing part so the houses turned out very nice.
The point of that was that, then, we give these houses . . . not “we”, but the charity (Families Helping Families is what it’s called) gives away the house to somebody that is qualified. So, somebody local (in Mexico) does a series of interviews, and they find people who have jobs and who are working, trying to make a better life for themselves. But, for whatever reason, they really haven’t had a hand up, so they’ve struggled to progress with where they are in life.
These numbers might be off a little bit, because I’m not remembering what we were told at the site, but I believe each family that’s going to receive a house will get a contract that says that, if they meet the terms of the contract, the house becomes theirs at the end of a year. The term’s — among other things, although there’s not a lot — but the main term is that they pay 1,000 pesos (MXN $1000) a month, which works out to about 50 American dollars a month (US $50).
Now keep in mind that, because they’re in Mexico and it’s pesos in which they’re paying, it’s just the same as coming to an American family and saying a thousand dollars a month, right? A thousand pesos to someone in Mexico is the same as a thousand dollars to someone in the United States. So it’s not a small thing that they commit to do.
But, if they’re able to pay a thousand pesos over the course of a year, all twelve months, at the end of that year that land and that house become theirs permanently. And so, it’s a really awesome thing to be a part of, doing all the work (and you feel good working out, of course too — exercise is great). But then, when you finally see the family receive that house, and you see the mom and the kids with tears in their eyes, knowing that they have something to look forward to in the future, it really does something to you.
So that’s kind of what I wanted to talk about in today’s Facebook Live. I wanted to talk about what makes an abundant life, what makes your life more meaningful than it otherwise might be. Now this is an opinion, of course, but I find personally that my life means more when I’m not wrapped up in myself, but I’m thinking about other people.
Do I contribute to a charity? Do I help go build houses? Do I pass on lessons that I’ve learned? If I can know that what I’m doing is helping somebody else move forward — that it will allow them to improve their circumstance and to achieve their goals — that is the most fulfilling thing to me, I think, that I could ever be doing.
You might be able to tell that I’m a little bit, I don’t know. I got a cold on
the way back or something, driving back from Mexico? I don’t know. I don’t know when that happened exactly, but anyway, despite the fact that I’m sniffly and I have a little bit of a cold, I really, really wanted to share with you guys how excited I was to do this, and how awesome it was to be able to participate. I feel just grateful and honored that I was able to be a part of this.
This has now become an annual thing for me. I’m going to do this every year, unless for some reason I try to register and registration is full, but otherwise this is going to be an annual thing for me. And if it ends up being full one year, I will just find something else to do that service-oriented at the same time.
Anyway, I wanted to share that with you today. It’s not too long: it looks like we’re approaching 12 minutes, so I’ll kind of cut it there. But I would like you, over the couple of coming days—
Let me backtrack slightly. This is going to become a new thing for me, obviously. I’m going to be regularly doing Facebook Lives. My plan is to do them every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evening at about this same time, so about 7:30pm, approximately. So if you guys would like to participate — if you want to watch live and put comments and stuff — then I would obviously be able to communicate with you live at that point.
But I’m going to be doing these Facebook Lives regularly, so between now and Thursday, anybody who watches this (even if you watched after the fact, while it’s on my Facebook page), I would just like you to think on your own about what you have currently, where you are in life, what you want, where you would like to be, and what kinds of service and help you can offer other people that can [also] help take you to a happier, more fulfilled you. And I’m not judging. Obviously I don’t expect someone to say, “My life was totally unfulfilling and now I finally have something to fulfill it”. But I would like you just, if you haven’t already to contemplate, “What are some acts of service I can do that will help improve others’ circumstances and other people’s lives?”
And if you would like to share those, if you’re so inclined, then leave comments on this video after it’s posted, or else comments next time when I follow up on that. I will talk to you guys soon. Thanks for your time! I’ll see you next time. Peace.