Tijuana Diary by Dave

Day 7 - Saturday 4 April 2015

No rest for the wicked!  for our final full day in Tijuana we had an early start and set off ad one group for a youth gathering for Easter. There was a really big turnout with over a thousand youth.  Three artics with music groups on their trailers were spread out in a big car park.  Somehow different groups were assigned to different trailers  so when the trucks moved out their crowd went with them in procession to the auditorium.  This worked well, with each music group able to entertain their group and everyone able to hear the music! In the auditorium there was more and more music with too many moves to each song.  Not my favourite thing not but I got into it.  There were some drama pieces and prayer reflections too.  The whole event had a world youth day atmosphere to it and it was grest to see teenagers a Mass enthusiastic about their faith.
We left at one o clock to our parishes.  Our final lunch in our par is h was great. Maria, hosted us and cooked a lovely meal as well as the best tequila I have ever tasted!
About to celebrate the vigil and leaving early tomorrow so I’ll have a reflection very soon!  Feliz Pascua!

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Day 6 - Friday 3 April 2015

The hottest day in Tijuana so far had to be the day we took part in the stations of the cross!  After morning prayer Fr Derek, Josh, James and I returned to our parish with tavo. After some preparations we had the stations of the cross.  It was very well prepared and even though I didn’t have the language I had a good handle of going on. It was sweltering hot though so after two hours the crucifixion couldn’t come quickly enough!  It was great though to see some of the ninios we have met during the week,  full of joy as always.
We went to a house in the parish for lunch again and there was a great welcome and meal for us.  Some of the youth leaders joined us and it was great to share the moment with them.
We struggled to stay awake in the afternoon while getting various jobs done to prepare for the evening. There’s always a few kids hanging around the church so it makes for a nice atmosphere.
The liturgy for the evening was excellent as always and the highlight for me was the silent procession. It was only half an hour long but it was nice to walk as one with our adopted community for the week,  sharing our Easter journeys together.  A lot of people came to their doors to watch us pass by and some even joined us.
All the changes and emotions and events of this week caught up with me today but it’s making for a beautiful Easter.

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Day 5 - Thursday 2 April 2015

Of an amazing experience so far, us novices got to be part of one of the great occasions of Easter week, the washing of feet. We left the house at seven today to go to the Desayunador Padre Chava. This centre for people in poverty provides meals six days a week all year long to 1,500 people daily. Today there was a service before meals were given out for each group. Half the novices went upstairs to the English speakers and along with the help of volunteers washed the feet of twelve people who are in dire poverty. I washed the feet of a guy named peter, a very nice guy. It was a hugely humbling moment and we did it for two groups. We then went downstairs and joined the rest of the novices for the much bigger Spanish speaking operation. We got to wash feet three more times, I got a toddler, a woman and a man named Edgar. It’s hard to sum up the experience, such poor people yet very polite and even upbeat.

We then had lunch with the volunteers, there were 50 today and different ones come every day of the year. After lunch we had a reflection time as novices. It was a powerful time of sharing and pondering Gods creation and will for us.

We went back to our parishes in the afternoon and Padre Jesus and Tavo had waited to bring us to lunch. We went to another family and were hosted by the mother and her two sons and daughter the father was out working. They put in a great effort to welcome us and it was humbling to spend time with them. After lunch we prepared for the mass in the evening. I went with Tavo to get bread that was given out to all the parishioners after mass, a lovely tradition they have here. I also got to see different areas of Tijuana on the way. The mass itself was great with a big turnout including our ninios from the camp. There was adoration afterwards and it continues to be a privilege to be included in this close knot community for the Easter celebrations.

It’s been an emotional day, one none of us will ever forget, and to be here as novices, as brothers in Christ makes it all the more special. It’s off to our parishes again in the morning and then maybe a trip to another orphanage. Half dead but hanging in strong, buenos noches! Dave.

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Day 4 - Wednesday 1 April 2015

An even longer day today,  just back and it’s 11 pm. I hot up well though none of the expected stiffness was present so I was in flying form to start the last day of camp.  The kids were full of enthusiasm too and the novices and I really got into it.  The theme of community was really pushed with the kids today and they responded well. When the camp finished there was lots of pictures with the kids and even autographs,  it’s nice to see that we at least brought something small to the camp with our presences. I’ll neever forget the kids I’ve met over the last few days. From there we went to the beach,  it’s very close by.  We went with the junior leaders, I suppose it was a thank you for  them for all their hard work.  We had enchelatas on the beach for lunch.  It’s was sad to see the border fence to America even at the beach. We returned to the parish we are working at after that to help up for the Easter celebrations.  There was a lot going on with people of all ages there, a real sense of a close knit community. When we finished we got some tacos and got home. Very tired after an amazing day, it’s an experience I’ll never forget and the Spanish I am learning on the job I will never forget either! Tomorrow we go to the kitchen in the morning and then back honour parishes for mass and work. There’s no let up but all our formation especially spiritual is standing to us now , this is why we are becoming salesians!  Buenos noches!

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Day 3 - Tuesday 31 March 2015

Gonna keep it short today! It’s pretty late and have been with kids ALL day. Octavio, Fr Derek, Josh, James and I returned to the same parish we were in yesterday. After mass it was the same programme and it went very well. At two we went to a family for dinner and they were great, really nice to us and the food was great! When we got back to the parish, it was full of kids playing, mostly soccer. And that’s pretty much what we did until nine thirty, set up games and play. I got the chance to coach just a little so that was cool.
The language barrier got rely annoying at the beginning of the day but it eased off again mostly because of the kindness of the kids. They really are all so very good and decent, even the ‘rebels’ aren’t a bother. It’s great to have seen what Salesians out here do day to day, I have a lot to catch up on! Same again tomorrow, buenos dios!

Dave

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Day 2 - Monday 30 March 2015

Hey all,

Been a very long day mixed with ups and downs!  Everyone is wrecked but I think we will grow into it.  Things were changed around a little this morning and we were divided into three groups.  Two groups were going to different oratories and the final group went to help feed people at Desayunos Padre Chava. I left with my group at 8 am to Maria Auxiliadora Parish to start at the first day of the oratory.  We started with mass,  and then the kids begin to arrive.  They were all primary school age, over 30 of them and a good few youth leaders.  It is an Easter camp and it started with some games. The language barrier was more than frustrating to begin with, but after getting to know the kids at break time by the time we started watching frozen in Spanish,  we were having a great time!  It was great hanging out with them and they really are amazing kids.  They presented well,  but just looking at their everyday surroundings it’s clear that there is a whole lot more going on. Despite it all though there isn’t a nicer group you could meet, so welcoming. We finished up at 1 o’clock and while waiting for lunch we Simon and I got involved in a soccer game. Kids passing by joined in and it was the best game I have been involved in since I left Ireland,  the kids have great skill. Lunch was really good followed by more soccer, and saying goodbye to the kids we left for the orphanage. The orphanage is not a Salesian work,  it is a link established by the Salesians here,  JC. It’s a transition house where kids are first put after leaving  home. We got to spend an hour with the kids and walking out to the playground we were met with a pretty sad sight; around 20 toddlers in a pretty small fenced off area.  They went crazy to see some new people and said hello from behind the fence. It is fenced off because we were in the boys playground, nearly 30 of them aged from 6-7 to 16 . The girls were seperate. Of course they were mad for a soccer game and some played cards and different games with our guys. I encountered two great lads, Ralph and CJ. Ralph, 13, has been in the orphanage nearly a month.  He lived in America with his family until he was three so his English is great. He’s had some bad issues at home and hopes to go back to America,  minus the one in the family who got Jim placed in the orphanage. He wants to be a doctor or be a navy seal in the future. He was expecting to leave today.
His cheerful demeanor certainly didn’t reveal any of his upset and he translated for CJ, who is ten. CJ has been in three weeks,  I’m not sure why, and he doesn’t know when he will leave. We chatted away for the whole hour about everything and anything and it was tough leaving them, the orphanage is a tough place, a good few bullies around and a place where kids may be forced to walk down the path of hatred. There were also quite a few of the kids who needed more acute mental health services, pretty badly.
The world becomes a smaller place as you travel, but the moment you think you’ve seen some nd things, you’ll see worse.
Just finished tea now, played more ball when we got back to our home oratory. Having a small meeting at 10.00pm and then we’ll see what tomorrow brings!
If you have any prayers to spare, there’s a few kids that could do with em’.

Dave

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Day 1 - Sunday, 29 March 2015

We left for Tijuana today at three pm. It’s only three hours away so not much of a long journey. The border crossing was fine but next time around it may not be! The first thing that struck me on the other side was the population density. Tijuana is very built up with some very rich streets but mostly very poor shanty streets. On the American side it’s a lot less built up and we’ll the poverty is non existent. You can see from the pictures the level of poverty. There are a lot of police around and a lot of corruption . The Salesian house is nice and we got a great welcome. There are nine priests and four volunteers, one from Madrid! Tomorrow we start working at desayunador padre Chava, the giving out of food to over 1,500 deportees tomorrow morning, it takes most of the day. Following that we will visit the orphanage. Wish us luck we are in the deep end!

Dave

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