October 4-7, 2006 Building the Biblioteca
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On October 4, I traveled to Juarez with a team of about
20 people from our church, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC). The
team was going to build a house in the Colonia outside of Ciudad
Juarez with our partners from Missions Ministries (MM). Two
folks also went along to provide dental services in the MM medical
clinic. We were asked by Missions Ministries if we could bring more
people for an addition to the children’s library run by MM
and our Jaurez Childrens Education Program | site design(JCEP) coordinator,
Suzy. My brother-in-law, John Hanna and two good friends, Ed
Doody and Vince Martinez responded to the call. The ten children
in our JCEP sponsorship program were granted permission to help as
well, and were given time from school to do so.
After arriving on the 4th the team was taken to the
MM team center in the Colonia. We rose early the next morning.
After devotionals and a great breakfast, we were taken by bus to
the location of a house the MPPC team was building. A very excited
family of four was waiting. After dedicating the site, we headed
off with Jesus, our bus driver, to build the addition to the library. When
we arrived, the kids and Suzy were already pounding nails and had
the walls under way. We joined in and before the end of the
day, we had the walls and roof up. Insulation was in place. We
even hung some dry wall. Ed and Vince had worked with Jesus
to put in place a beam to hold the center ceiling for the 20x20 addition.
With the new room, the library will be almost twice
as big as before. Now, in addition to the book/reading room
and computer room, there will be a classroom. By adding the additional
room, there will be a place for students to work on the computers,
while Enrique, our English teacher, runs classes. Currently Enrique
is teaching classes two nights per week. All of the kids in
our JCEP program are attending the classes. They seem to be
having an effect. All the kids could greet me in English and
ask how I was - even though it took some coaxing.
The second day we returned to the library to complete
the drywall and begin painting. While Ed, Vince and I hung
drywall with Jesus and the other MM workers, John painted the outside
of the library with the kids. Suzy had picked a lovely peach color,
as you can see in the pictures. The teal trim makes for a very happy
looking library. I encouraged the kids to paint a mural on
the back of the library, which they did. We all got to put a teal
hand-print on the side as well.
In the evening we had a spirited church service at
the church of Pastor Martin, in the neighborhood where the MPPC team
had built the house. With Pastor Martin on the guitar and his
young son banging away on the drum kit, we sang lively songs and
had a rousing good time.
I am very happy with the progress of the children in
our program. They all seem happy and confident. Suzy tells
me their grades are good. In June, Miriam will graduate from high
school and Juana will graduate form middle school and begin high
school. Also, we now have 5 kids in the first year of middle school
- David, Margarita, Samuel, Claudia and Juan Carlos. (Remember,
middle school is not paid for by the Mexican government.) Martha,
Blanca and Anahi are all doing well in high school as Juniors. None
of these kids would be in school without your support for the JCEP.
We have identified an additional, student, Nancy Margarita. She
is also a seventh grader. Suzy paid for her school out of her
own pocket. I told Suzy that we would add her to the program
to replace Miriam next year. I met Nancy’s mother and
am confident that Nancy’s parents are committed to her long-term
Also, Joni and I decided to that the JCEP Fund will
purchase a van for the transportation. We are transferring
$5000 to Missions Ministries. They will purchase a used van in El
Paso. This will allow Suzy to transport the children as needed
for English classes and other functions. Right now Suzy is making
multiple trips in her compact car, which is expensive and time-consuming.
Finally, we are looking for pen pals for the kids.
If you have a young student who is studying Spanish, this is a great
opportunity, to pair them up with one of the kids. We envision
letter being sent in both English and Spanish so that kids on both
ends can learn the other language.
Thanks for your continued support of the JCEP. I
welcome comments and suggestions. If you want to be removed from
the list, please let me know by email.