Day 7 (Last Day)
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Feb 24 to Feb 26)
Home again, home again, Jiggedy Jig
This is the last day, where we try to wrap up what happened, what we learned, and measure exactly how much dirt we managed to get in our electronics.
(Okay, this is gross--we're typing this on a keyboard that is totally covered in cat hair. We've seen cats that have less hair than this keyboard. Well, at least we know what the cats were doing while we were gone.)
Friday night, we all headed out to this place called "Cattleman's" which is a Texas-Style steakhouse, which means that it's located on a ranch that's larger than the entire state of Rhode Island (really).
They've filmed a couple of movies there, and if we'd come on Sunday, we could have seen where they filmed Courage Under Fire with Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan. They left all the props there ("Tanks! We could have seen tanks!" moans Robert), because the ranch is so large that they don't get in the way of anything.
Shortly after Fr. Jim dealt with his "Li'l 'Rangler" we were asked to go off the record, so we did.
Saturday morning, we got to sleep in, because Ed (who is, for all practical purposes, a Saint) booked the flight for 1:00 pm. We take back all the guinea pig jokes about Ed (well, except for that really funny one) and will nominate him for sainthood as soon as we can locate the application form (also, we think he has to be dead to qualify).
The rest of Saturday was the usual boring drill of standing around and waiting and sitting and reading and then standing around another airport because the connecting flight was late because it was supposed to go from Atlanta to Boston, but instead came in from Las Vegas (really, the explanation made no sense whatsoever and we found it disturbing that an airline actually lost track of an entire plane).
We were greeted in Seattle by Moms carrying red, white, and blue balloons. We have to say, this is the first time we've been greeted this way, and it has a certain cachet to it.
There were vans ready to take us back to the church (thereby validating our beliefs). We rode in the van with Fr. Jim, who had one arm around each of his girls. One of them turned to him at one point and asked, "Dad, do you still have pee rings around your ankles?"
So, at least one person has been reading these "plogs" (trip logs—get it?).
We found our nice apartment all in one piece, and the cats safely snoring ("Gone? You were gone?"). Robert stayed up for another couple of hours, putting together a slide show for...
...Sunday morning church. We rigged up a projector and showed a slide show. One was a time-lapse kind of thing (Robert managed to get about 50 shots from exactly the same angle showing the entire building process) and the other was a collection of photos showing everybody working.
[Background music for the time-lapse was "Powerhouse" by B.B. King from the album "Spotlight on Lucille." The music for the other one was "Powerhouse" (same name, completely different song), which was the music used in Bugs Bunny cartoons whenever something was being built. Both of them are available on iTunes, which is where Robert got them.]
In between the two slide shows, various trip members got up and talked about their experiences. (We were tempted to just point everybody towards this plog, but we refrained.)
Every single person tried to find words for Coolest, Most Fantastic, Rewarding, and Inspirational to describe their experience. From the 14 year-olds to the 62 year-old, everybody was moved by their experience. People who were sure they'd be useless found that they were needed. People afraid they'd be too tired or weak found stamina and energy.
Everybody contributed to the house we built in Mexico. And there wasn't a slacker on our crew.
Which brings us to:
Why don't you sign up for next year?
Thanks to Ed, who wrangled a grant from his employer (Washington Mutual Bank), there's enough money to build three more houses. You don't have to sell any candy door-to-door, or get pledge forms signed or anything. You do need to cover your airfare (which runs about $500).
Fr. Jim is talking about taking a bigger crew down next year (2007) and building two houses. He'd like to get some folks from other churches to come along, so they can get all fired up and go back and get the rest of their church involved.
Here's how to get the process going:
Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
This will end up in Fr. Jim's in-box, who will make sure that you don't get lost in the shuffle. (He's also a really nice guy and we have a hard time imagining that he'd turn anybody down, so don't worry about that.)
One last announcement, and then we'll let you get back to your regular lives.
We're having a mid-life crisis (since we're both at the appropriate age). We're selling most of our stuff, and then we're going to get jobs through AmeriCorps helping poor folks. (At this point, we're looking at jobs helping them learn how to start small businesses, because we're pretty good at that. Also, we're arguing about whether or not there will be a "Mid-Life Crisis Trip Log.")
Robert & Laura
P.S. Yup, check out the Mid-Life Crisis Trip Log.