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Tijuana Week 1: Re-entry and Peanut Butter Pancakes

Thursday, October 3


I arrived back in Tijuana on Tuesday, about two months since I was last here. It is

always emotional for me in so many ways. Today we saw a family of eleven we know

from Guerrero cross, one a 12-year-old victim of rape who is carrying twins. Yes, you

read that right. We helped them find a shelter when they came here in February. We

LOVE this family, and we gave and received so many hugs and kisses as their number

was called and they passed through the gate and boarded the van. Oh, I pray they all

make it safely to their relative’s house, and without having to endure the hielera.




Van leaving to cross the border with the family inside.

The routine when numbers are called.

Javier and I meet so many people who are completely exhausted, scared, and

overwhelmed. One young woman we saw today with a young son escaped a husband who tried to kill them both. Now here she is in Tijuana, a place she's never been before, and found out she would have to wait here for three months—or longer. She was terrified at having no place to stay. After many phone calls, a place was found not too far away. Another woman today was in tears because her husband and her two kids crossed a couple days ago, but he was detained for reasons she couldn’t understand and the children were taken and put into a shelter. She is frantic with worry about her kids and husband and wants to get to San Diego to get her kids as soon as possible. Imagine being in these situations.


One volunteer and her friend started making sandwiches every morning for people

waiting at El Chaparral. They drop off boxes full of little chocolate milks at La Casa,

which Javier carries over each morning. At her arrival with the sandwiches around 8:30,

we start passing out the milk along with and the ham and cheese sandwiches. Javier

told me to watch how the kids flock around him the minute they see him pull the

chocolate milk out of his backpack! He was not kidding. In less than 10 minutes we'd

given away around 60 sandwiches and milk for the kids.

The kids now know what Javier has in his backpack.

Today I encouraged kids to come and do drawings with the crayons and paper we put out on the ground at El Chaparral. When they finish, we work together to tape their drawings up on the fence, and if they want, I take a picture of them with their drawings. At the end of each day Javier and I bring them home (before they’re taken down and destroyed) and display them as part of the wall of art we are creating in La Casa along with the drawings children (and some adults) do while they stay here.




Javier coloring with the sweetest little guy.

So that was our morning! In the afternoon a volunteer drove us to the hardware store,

where we got some cinder blocks and boards to make a bookshelf for the living room to organize the kids’ books, toys, games, and art supplies. Photos of that later!

Thanks to all of you who sent toys, books, and games for the kids. Most of these kids

have had no toys to play with for six months or more. They are so excited, and now we are also getting some small things (like matchbox cars) that they can choose one of to take with them. This was decided immediately after Javier told me that several kids cried when he tried to explain that the few things we had before needed to stay here for other kids. He said, “How could I refuse them?!” Seriously. So now we’ll have some things to give away.


Thanks for those of you who purchased things for La Casa off the Target Wish List (this is so handy, because the items are automatically sent to Jill’s house in San Diego and she drives across the border to La Casa. We now have a microwave, which really comes in handy, since the oven doesn’t work. Maybe someday we’ll have a working oven. One develops patience over time with these decidedly puny first-world problems.


Un desayuno delicioso!

And last, a little food story. We came back to La Casa yesterday about 10:00 after being there since 6:30 a.m. Before heading out to do all our errands I made pancakes. Who could predict that Javier would promptly turn his into something any self-respecting five-year-old would envy—little pancakes with a Trader Joe's peanut butter cup set in the middle of each one topped with another little pancake that partially melted the peanut butter cup, with some crema artfully drizzled on top. You're welcome.