Friday, May 13, 2011


It’s been a while- we’ve been pretty busy. Here’s the long and short of it. Ezra and I somehow survived the flight from Shang Hai to San Francisco. I’m learning that

14 hours
economy class


The little Chinese lady in the isle seat probably hated my guts for the number of times I got up. I don’t know if it was the elevation or the fact that we were flying at 400 miles through the air, but I was having the worst cramps, I had an achy tailbone and could not get comfortable for the life of me.

I think it was about half way through the flight that I decided that I could stand it no longer. This is when the pep talks from Ezra came in handy and somehow I survived the next 7 hours. But by the time we reached Salt Lake City (after 3 different plane rides) I was on the verge of a serious breakdown. I couldn’t keep the tears from my eyes. I think there was a little drop of just about every emotion in those tears.

My Dad picked us up from the airport and waiting at my parent’s house was the best dinner ever! The next morning we headed up to Idaho and had wonderful time. I think I got the best welcome of my life from our little nephew Landen. It was so fun to see everyone. We made sure we brought back some chicken feet for everyone to try. ( ;

Then it was back to Utah. All my siblings were on Spring break and the family was planning on heading down to Tijuana Mexico for a service trip with a few other families from the area. Ezra and I decided to join them. We just can’t seem to get enough international travel.

The 14-hour drive seemed like a walk in the park compared to the plane ride. A little bit of “squirm” room can make a HUGE difference.

The whole service group was to stay in a hospital/clinic, anyone who’s been to Tijuana can image what this “hospital” was like. Crazy! We were supposed to sleep on the floor on sleeping pads but ended up on hospital beds instead. It was pretty sweet!

The first day we were able to attend church. Our service group sang a musical number in Sacrament meeting (in Spanish) and it was a lovely Sunday. Ezra was the only Spanish speaker in our group and he was having a great time talking to all the ward members. He was loving all the mission memories it was bringing back.

The next day we were to start work at two separate orphanages, one for the older kids and one for the youngins. Ezra found out that he was related to one of the families on the trip—the Ropers. My Dad, Adam, Ezra and the Roper boys made up the roofing team. They were to build a roof for the shop where the older orphan boys could learn useful skills such as welding and carpentry.

The little guy in the red decided he would spray paint his face- we called him the hulk.

The rest of us went to the orphanage with the younger kids and started on a series of projects building shelves, remodeling, and painting. We spent the first day busy as can be with little orphan children running around everywhere.

At the end of the day we decided to have dinner at a local taco stand. We parked all 7 of our group’s vehicles next to the stand and had an authentic Mexican meal- it was actually pretty good.

We were finishing up dinner when a family from our group went to their car and found that all their belongings had been stolen including the radios we had been using to stay together as a group. Everyone went to check their cars.

When I found my purse was gone a long with Ezra’s camera, I was instantly worried- not about my lost camera and wallet, but about my passport. I thought, “I just got back from China, I really don’t want to be stuck in Mexico!” My only relief was that another family had also lost their passports and at least they would be stuck with me. We were stunned, our cars were parked right next to us. The first car wasn’t 5 feet away!

The thieves were nowhere to be seen and they had hardly left a mark on any of the cars. They had disabled the alarm systems and used slim jims to unlock the doors. Not your amateur criminals.

On our way back to the hospital we had a long conversation about the punishment we would have inflicted if we had caught them in the act.

Before we went to bed Ezra checked his jacket pocket for his own passport and to our surprise mine was in there too. I was thrilled- I was not going to be stranded! I couldn’t remember ever giving my passport to him. Tender Mercy!

Many members of the group were pretty bummed and angry about the stolen goods. Including me. The next morning we had a devotional and the scriptures we happened to read were all about loving your enemies. We just had to laugh.

After breakfast we loaded into the cars and started on our caravan to the orphanages. We weren’t far from the hospital when we passed a store where they were selling shelves. As we were waiting for a few men to buy and load the shelves Ezra heard (Spanish) voices on our radio.

This was their conversation:
“Those Gringos were so easy to rob last night, we’re going to get them again this afternoon, they’re out in front of the store right now.”

The thieves that had stolen our things were following us! They knew exactly where we were. We got out of the cars and spread the word to the group. We all decided to go back to the hospital where we could talk about what we were going to do.

All the kids were sent into the safety of the hospital as the adults tried to come up with a course of action. No one wanted to leave all our projects undone, so we decided to go back to the orphanages and hurry and get all our projects done so we could cross the border back into California that night.

The group loaded into the cars and headed off once again. Ezra was given charge of the radio so he could translate if our thieves decided to do any more talking.

We were about half way to the orphanage when Ezra heard the voices again.

They said:
“Their all headed to the big ranch, we’re gonna dance at the big ranch, we’ll have so much money to buy beer”

Once again they knew exactly where we were going and they we’re planning on robbing us.

Things were getting a little bit too personal. We decided not to go to the orphanage and met at a gas station where we called the police. It wasn’t long till a bunch Mexican police officers were showing up with M-16s. It was nuts- it felt like we were in some kind of movie.

We told the police about our predicament and they agreed to be our personal guards the rest of the day. With police escorts we felt much safer, they guarded our cars and the entrances to the orphanages while we worked like mad men to finish all our projects.

It was so fun to get to know these special little orphans. Between the working and the projects we were able to get to know their cute little personalities. I made friends with a cutie named Brian he would walk around asking for me, “Jes—ee—ka, Jes-ee—ka. With my limited Spanish vocabulary I told him that I was pregnant:
“dos bebes….ninas”
His eyes went big, “dos?”
“Si, Dos ninas”
A mischievous smile spreads across his face, “no, ninos”
After that our conversation went something like this
“no, ninas”
I finally gave up. But the rest of the day Brian would come over and hug my belly. So cute! If I could have I would have taken him home with me.

Brian with one of the younger kids

Their living circumstances were so bad, so many kids and so few people to take care of them. It was wonderful feeling to know that we helped in some small way. Luckily we were able to finish our projects and even had some time left over to play with the kids.

As we parted we sang a hymn, it was such a special experience. It was so hard to leave the kids but we were all grateful for the experience despite everything that happened.

That night an undercover police escort got us to the border. Back to the good ol U S of A. I don’t know why but every time I’ve ever crossed the border whether to Canada or Mexico r it’s been a comical experience. Maybe it’s because of all the waiting you have to do you just get bored. This time Ezra made up a hilarious little monologue about metaphors and Mexicans.

Thanks to the generosity of some family friends we were able to stay at a beautiful beach house. And thanks to a different family friend we were able to get free park hopper passes to California Adventure and Disneyland. I thought it was going to be a bummer for me because I can’t go on very many rides, but it ended up being really fun. The next day we spent Ezra’s 28th birthday playing at the beach!

So what are we up to now? Because my pregnancy is considered high risk and we have limited medical services in Nanning, I have to stay in the states until the babies are born. Ezra has gone back to work in China but is planning on coming back sometime before these two little fur balls are born sometime in July. Until then we are on skype 3 or 4 times a day and trying to keep busy so we don’t miss each other too much. It’s pretty crazy but we’re doing our best to make it work. Time has really been flying by, only 9-10 more weeks until these babies arrive!


Chris and Paige Bell said...

What a neat experience! It sounds like you had a lot of fun and I'm glad you made it back to the US as well.

Dawna & Justin said...

Wow Jess you sure have some intense international experiences...haha! I can't believe you only have 9-10 weeks left! You'll have to post a cute preggo picture soon :) Take care!!

David and Megan Virgin said...

That is cool you got to do service in mexico! I'm just a little jealous of all this traveling you've been doing! :)

brittany+scott said...

Whatt???! U guys went to tj and so cal without visiting us! we live 10 mins from dland!!!! sad day! looks like u had a fun time anywaysss! ;) what a neat experience in mexico!!