By Sabina Gilbert, Member of Capstone Missions Advisory Council
Early on a Saturday morning in January, seventeen men and women from across southern and south central Idaho gathered at the Twin Falls home of Deb Miciak, the trip coordinator for Capstone Missions, for final instructions, prayer, and an on-time 5:00 a.m. departure for what turned out to be a 19 hour drive to their destination: Tijuana, Mexico. These seventeen, with an additional four flying in from Alaska, Arizona, and Colorado, had volunteered a week of their time to Capstone Missions and would be helping with construction, repair, and maintenance work at two orphanages and a small convent located there.
Four to five times a year, Capstone Missions sends teams of Idaho college students and other adults on week-long mission trips to Tijuana to perform critically needed repair and construction work at orphanages, individual homes, and other facilities that serve the poor. Since our first trip in 1997, more than 400 volunteers have served, the vast majority being the college students. Capstone’s work is focused primarily on two facilities: St. Joseph’s Home, an orphanage housing five teenagers who have lived there as a family since they were infants, and La Hacienda de la Inmaculada, a larger orphanage that houses up to 50 children.
The January 2016 team was a diverse group, ranging in age from 18 to 70-plus, with 12 women and 9 men. Some were Capstone veterans; others were rookies. Roughly a third were students, a third were working adults, and a third were retired. Each brought a unique set of experiences and talents. And all shared a deep commitment to serve the poor.
The volunteers tackled a variety of projects over the course of the week. At St. Joseph’s, the most pressing problem was a leak in a hot water line buried in concrete. Earlier attempts to find and repair the leak had failed, but this trip found success: the source of the leak was isolated and bypassed. At La Hacienda, a corner of a large dormitory was converted into a small, private bedroom designed to give the older children some privacy and provide siblings living together at the orphanage space to share as a family. Some volunteers were put to work sorting, cleaning, and organizing a pantry and a large storage room, while others prepped and painted wrought iron window bars at the convent. Two of the volunteers happened to share a love of sewing and a love of children and turned the week into a very special time by teaching the St. Joseph’s children how to sew, using a recently donated sewing machine.
As their journals attest, Capstone’s people-to-people model provided the volunteers an opportunity to experience charitable giving in a deeply human way. One young man captured this sentiment in his journal entry towards the end of the week:
“As nourishing as our community is back home, it is just a parcel of what we have grown into here in Tijuana. I have learned so much about myself by living and working with this community… …I personally feel like I lived an entire life in the span of a week. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else during the first week of the New Year.” -Nick Warnecke
The Capstone Missions January 2016 Journal, along with other past journals, can be found at https://www.capstonemissions.org/journals.