Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Door of Faith Christmas Party

I’m going to try and capture the highlights from our trip to Door of Faith Orphanage and if I miss anything I’ll just add it in another blog.

The day started out EARLY. We’re talking alarm going off at 4:30am early, but we did it. We drug ourselves out of bed and met up with everyone at the church. There were a lot of people- it’s been amazing to see these trips grow in numbers and this is only our third trip. The first trip there were 11 of us, the second trip we had around 15-20 people and on this trip we had approximately 30 people sign up to volunteer their time. I have to say that I was surprised that so many people were willing to give up an entire day, so close to Christmas, to drive 2-3 hours down and back up from Mexico…but, surprising in a good way. We ended up taking 7 SUVs/Vans down to Mexico…and, we really needed that much room… people aside, we also had somewhere in the neighborhood of 250-300 gifts with us. It was Kristen, Alex, Lisa,
Suzanne, Farzad, Brandon, Greg and myself in one van and we had a good group. We made it down to the border without any issues or any traffic (yay!) and we stopped at a McDonald’s just outside the border (you could literally see the border walls right behind McDonald’s). We wanted to take a brief bathroom break and give everyone the opportunity to grab something to eat. This was also the location we were meeting up with a couple of other volunteers who lived in the San Diego area. One of those volunteers was Santa Claus. You think that I’m joking, but just wait until you see the picture…this guy looks like the real deal and, as you’ll soon find out, he really has that Santa Claus spirit about him as well.

This is the story...

We had arranged for one of the volunteers to play Santa and he was going to rent/buy a Santa suit and bring it down with him. Well, a few days before we were going to leave, he backed out of the trip. So, now we have no Santa or Santa suit. Other volunteers began asking around to see if anyone knew where we could borrow a suit. One of our volunteers, Annie, actually knew a gentleman who plays Santa during Christmastime, so she asked if he knew where we could borrow a suit. He said that he wasn’t sure because he owns his own suit, so he never rents one. He asked why she was looking for one and she explained what we were doing and where we were going and the next question he asked was, ‘do you have a Santa to put in the Santa suit?’ She told him that we did not. He then asked if we wanted to have him go down to Mexico with us and he would bring his suit and play Santa. Being that we are on a tight (really non-existent) budget, Annie asked how much it would cost. He said, ‘can you afford free?’ Isn’t that great? This is someone who normally gets paid $175 just to show up at a location and then also gets paid $100 per hour. He was with us for approximately 11 hours…for those of you mathematically challenged like me, that’s $1275 that he could have been earning…especially during the busiest time of year for his business.

It was hilarious to see him walk into McDonalds…he didn’t have the full suit on, just a red turtleneck, but all of the kids heads just turned around and they stared at him, mouths opened. This guy’s beard, white hair and everything else are completely real…he even has the Santa spectacles.

So, off we went into Mexico…no issues getting over the border or arriving at the orphanage. As you can see from the pictures, the orphanage was all decked out for the holidays.

Of course, we had to get our pictures with Santa before the kids mobbed

Then we began the process of unloading all of the presents and making sure that each one was accounted for and that each child had a gift. I have to say that I was really amazed by the amount of restraint the kids showed… they came over and were looking at the presents and trying to find their names, but I was expecting that, like most little kids, they would come up and grab a present and walk away, but they were all really good. Next we had some of the girls set up stations and they did
manicures and face painting.

Then there was the bounce house and potato sack races.

Even Santa got in on the action with the bounce house!

In the meantime, we had a few buys BBQ’ing lunch for all of the kids and us…hamburgers, hot dogs and chips.

As you can see it was a bit chilly… after lunch we used the BBQ as a ‘warming station’.

Next came the long awaited gifts. Santa sat down and as each child’s name was called, they went up, took a picture with Santa, took their gift and went off to open them up.

After gifts, we had two piñatas. Apparently, once the piñatas busted open and the candy fell to the ground, the kids piled on top of one another, in true football fashion, trying to get at the candy.

The last event of the day was the Christmas cookie decorating. Once again, I was surprised…I mean, I’ve seen how these kids love their candy, so I figured that they’d probably come in and just eat the candy and the cookie and, sure, there were a couple who did that, but for the most part, the kids really took their time frosting the cookies and then methodically laying the pieces of candy on the cookie. They were really creative and they were so proud of their cookies! I even saw a couple of kids walk out of the room with their cookies on a plate and they were taking them back to their rooms. Really cute.

Now, it was time to head back home. This is typically the only part of the trip that I don’t like. Not only because I have to leave the kids, but because I know that a long wait is ahead of us at the border. Remember how, earlier, I said that it was no problem crossing over the border from the U.S. to Mexico? The same cannot be said for the return trip back to the U.S. Once you approach the border, you are talking about a 2-3 hour wait to get up to the checkpoint and then you have to
just pray that yours isn’t one of the cars that they choose to do a secondary check on…cause if that’s the case, you’re talking about adding on another hour. (it happened to me in Canada but, knock on wood, it hasn’t happened in Mexico) We chose to use our wait time wisely by doing, what else but eating. There is definitely not a shortage of vendors along the streets near the border. They are selling verything
from 3 foot long statues of a crucified Jesus to ceramic frogs, to fruit and churros. I think that the only thing that they don’t sell in the carts is alcohol…and trust me, after 3 hours of waiting, I wish that they did serve it (being that I was not driving the vehicle of course). I could have gone for a bottle of beer at that point. But, like I said, we made the best of it. We bought some sort of seasoned corn on the cob which was, apparently, delicious and I, of course, went the sweet route and bought churros. Seriously some of the best churros I’ve ever had-
they beat Disneyland’s by a long shot… not to mention that they cost about a sixth of the cost of a Disneyland churro. :-)

Finally, we did make it over… but, not before some guy in a car next to us, peed into a bottle and then dumped it out his car window. Really. You can’t make this stuff up.

I definitely plan on going back and being there has given me even more incentive to relearn the Spanish language as most of the kids only speak Spanish and I’d really love to be able to talk to them. The party was great and the kids were beyond adorable and I’m so glad that I went!


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the picture that you emailed me too! It was nice to have a narrative to go with some of them. It looks like you and Suzy had a great time~~and most importantly that the children did too!