Mexico 2019 | Day 5 Blog

By: Stephen Wilkins

This morning started early with Ian, we got up at 5 to be ready for the bus to pick up the kids for daycare. It was amazing to see, despite what we would consider dire conditions, smiling faces and upbeat spirits. The kids piled into the van one by one as we drove through suburbs littered amongst the fields and farms. One of the kids, was about 18 months, sat on my lap so I could hold him while we drove around to pick up the remaining kids. Despite his clean appearance he decided to be dirty a different way, I don’t miss those days.

After breakfast we were on our way to the jobsite when we discovered a parade for the Mexican Revolution. We stopped for a bit and took some photos then proceeded to work. The parade went on for half the day causing some issues getting around. But we made it to the fish tacos.

On the job site we worked on completing the forms for the concrete beams and getting the heavy rebar in place, Andrew, had the daunting task of troubleshooting an existing plumbing line while I completed the new cistern, turns out we will be building another and replacing some lines that have become an issue for them.

After working a long day, Brendan, Corrine and I made dinner for everyone. Deboned chicken isn’t readily available so I had to debone some chicken legs, which was fun, and then Brendan and Corrine started on the veggies and salad. The dinner came together quite well and there were no leftovers. After dishes were done we proceeded to the fire pit and played 2 truths and a lie. It is an interesting way to find out new things about someone.

Mexico 2019 | Day 4 Blog

By: Corrine Tilstra

Today started out with the rice breakfast pudding, then off to the seniors home while the construction crew worked on the site. I kept busy with meal prep, some painting and sorting beans. It seems as if there’s always laundry, laundry and more laundry to be done at the home, in addition to doing some of our teams laundry.

I road along to the dump with Brendan to see for myself if people actually live there- and yes they do! Digging through the garbage for something of use. Very unpleasant smell, as it’s always burning.

Luckily, I didn’t see any children but that doesn’t mean they don’t live there

By: Heather Leong

I woke up this morning with a bit soreness from our first day working at the seniors home. A hot shower and some yoga back bends later, I went down to get some coffee from the eating area at Casa Hogan Bienvenidos. I’m greeted by everyone I pass with a “beunos dias.”

At home I would be leaving for work at the office. Here, the bus has just arrived from picking up the thirty plus children who spend their day here in school while their parents are away at work. The children file past our group on their way to breakfast. They all hold hands and high five us as the pass.

After breakfast we head off to the job site. I’m helping to cut forms for steel beams. The job site is split up into splinter cells with each group managing a different task. Our goal is to get as much done as humanly possible in the five days we are here.

The seniors home has a need for a wheelchair/bed accessible shower. When we arrived the room had four walls, with no roof, and a dirt floor with lines marking where the plumbing will go.

The team working on plumbing dug out the holes and layed the pipes for the cistern the first day. Today they built the cistern. What amazes me is how quickly everything is getting done. The team is working endlessly from sun up to sun down to get the job done. It has only been two days but it feels like it has been a week.

The end of the day saw the guys rushing to beat the sunset to get the forms in place for the next day. Like the children linked in the morning. Our work day ended with the guys linked on the form.

Mexico 2019 | Day 3 Blog

 We have opportunities to serve both at Welcome Home daycare where we are sleeping, as well as The Good Samaritan Seniors Care Home where our construction work is planned.

By: Lanson | Lanstone Homes & Patrick | Armstrong BC.

Corinne and Heather left at 5:50 am with the daycare bus to pick up 40 children from some poverty stricken neighborhoods.

After breakfast with the kids and doing dishes we arrived at the seniors’ care facility to continue the expansion of new shower and sleeping rooms.

The first work day was a productive day for all involved. In addition to the construction, Corinne performed 20 haircuts on the residents. This is the first time she has cut hair on a 100 year old woman.

Today involved leveling the ground for the new plumbing and slab work. We formed pillars for the upper suspended slab and tied steel, jackhammered concrete and John and Roland fixed 5 leaky skylights. Roland hit John’s thumb with a hammer cause he was tired of being directed around.

After a great but long day, the team enjoyed another authentic Mexican meal at one of Steve Neufeld’s (our guide from EFCCM) favorite eateries. All will sleep sound tonight for another productive and fun team day tomorrow.

Mexico 2019 | Day 2 Blog

Our Centra family representing in Mexico, fresh off their 16 hour journey. Time for the work to begin!

Day 2 Blog

By: Brendan Friesen & Stephen Wilkins

Sunday was our day to take in our surroundings and plan out our work for the week. We have opportunities to serve both at Welcome Home daycare where we are sleeping at as well as The Good Samaritan Seniors Care Home where our construction work is planned.

Before that, we started Sunday by going to the local church for Sunday service and heading into town to explore. The sermon being in Spanish, I snuck out to read stories to the kids halfway through.

After Church we met up with Juan, the local director of the senior center for a tour and to check out what projects we are working on. We’ve split into two teams to tackle concrete forms and plumbing this week. My accounting skills have translated into a ditch digging assignment down here.

Juan felt a strong calling from God to look after the local seniors who had been abandoned, his story is amazing and is deserving of a post all on its own. After starting the centre, he has partnered with the Evangelical Free Church of Canada which is how Centra Cares Foundation got connected and we are here now.

We wrapped up the evening with a quick trip to watch the sunset over the Pacific and out for the best tacos I’ve ever had. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be down here and looking forward to getting to work.

Day 2 in the books, after some games of crib and orientation, we watch the sunset and prepare for work tomorrow, it is important to remember on the task at hand, but also to reflect on our FAMILY pillar.

We will spend a lot of time together over the next 5 days building and working together as a team but more importantly growing our Centra family to include the lives that we help with this project now and in the future.

Mexico 2019 | Day 1 Blog

We have opportunities to serve both at Welcome Home daycare where we are sleeping, as well as The Good Samaritan Seniors Care Home where our construction work is planned.

Day 1 Blog

By: Brendan Friesen

Saturday our goal was travel. Langley to Vincente Guerrero, Mexico in 16 hours. The flights passed quickly for those who were sleeping. Once in San Diego we piled into two Van’s and headed south. A few contrasts stuck out to me along the way.

The contrast between Mexico and the United States is immediate at the border. Regardless of your views on walls or migrant caravans, it was a good reminder that the geopolitical events we read about happen in real places and to real people.

The contrast between an off-road Baja 1000 driver and John T behind the wheel of a 12 passenger van is smaller than I expected. The Baja 1000 race was occurring during our drive down. We saw these overpowered off-road machines in for pit stops all along the highway for hours. John gave it his best shot when the pavement ended by creating his own off road 3rd passing lane between buses on one side and a mountain drop off on the other to make sure all of us were staying awake.

At home we complain about the wealth gap but the contrast in Vincente Guerrero is far more noticeable. A town of around 10,000 people, most work in the Strawberry fields which our produce originates from for about $10 per day.

We are staying in a daycare compound for children of these workers, “Welcome Home Ministries” for the duration of our trip. As I fall asleep on Day 1, I hear music and singing from our local neighbours.

Centra Cares Home Renovation 2019

Presenting our winners for the 2019 Centra Cares Home Renovation Contest! For a third consecutive year, we will be awarding a deserving a family a house full of windows.

The past 8 weeks have been an emotional ride and we are so grateful to have stepped foot into many homes and learn about the struggles and triumphs of our local families. We are happy to announce that this year’s Centra Cares Home Renovation Contest is the most successful to date, with 500 nominations throughout British Columbia.

The stories illustrated moments of laughter, sadness, triumph, dedication, and resiliency. From loved ones and neighbours to family members and spouses, each nomination was written with the utmost love and care. Thank you to the Wadley & Harder family for sharing their stories.

Congratulations to the Dunsmore family!

Centra Cares 24th Annual Golf Tournament

The 24th annual Centra Cares Golf Classic at The Redwoods Golf Course was one for the record books. The tournament raised $235,000 and donated the funds to Wagner Hills Farm Society and the Langley Memorial Hospital foundation. ❤️ Each charity took it a step further and raised their own match of $100,000. This amazing gesture lifts the grand total to $435,000 raised at the Golf Classic!

The remaining funds will be distributed to several amazing local charities throughout the year. We are so grateful for the fact that this year’s tournament raised more money than any tournament in the past. Thank you to our title sponsors Country Lumber, PHL Capital Corp. Caliber Projects, and Cardinal Glass. The tournament would not be possible without their support. ⛳

Thank you to everyone who participated and thank you to all of our donors and sponsors! From activities and a delicious dinner to plenty of prizes and an entertaining gala, the 2019 classic was one for the history books.

Centra Cares 23rd Annual Golf Classic

Well another year of our Annual Golf Classic has come and gone!

This year the Centra Cares Foundation chose to support Canuck Place, Dave Lede House. We are excited to announce we will be presenting Lede House with a donation of …. $81, 812

So “Thank You” to YOU, our generous sponsors, our wonderful golfers and our volunteers. We had a wonderful day, gave away some great prizes and best of all; made an impact in the future of local families who use the services and facilities that are so essential to them during care for their children who face life-altering medical diagnosis.

Catch our highlight video reel here, do you make an appearance? Stay tuned for an update on how the donation is used right here.. and our social platforms in the next few days.

Save the date for next year: June 20th 2019, See You There!

Haiti Day 5: Rain, Swimming Holes and Work Crews

Location: Marbial, Haiti

Population: Local; 5,000, Area; 15,000

Weather: Rainy, Cloudy, Humid with little sun

Region: Mountainous

Access: Hiking, Walking and to carry heavier goods like building materials, medicine and farming equipment – Donkeys.

Our day today started with rain pounding on our steel roofs. It rained all night so we felt like we were back in BC. I awoke at 6am and we had breakfast as a group at 7:15am. We had a great breakfast that included quiche and porridge. This was all homemade and very good. Everyone was moving slower as some were sore and all of us were tired of the tropical warm rain that made our mountainous hikes for dinner and to the school treacherous and dirty as this mud would stick to you like clay.

Our school project was going well and we were pouring our breams and posts around the block walls. We had a steel Rebar crew led by ‘Smokey’ Jeff Foster, a concrete block crew led by “Viking’ Kristian and a truss crew led by Dan and Kyle.  Our social crew was finishing school benches and giving candy to our helpers.

For lunch we had leftover goat, quiche, and macaroni – the food was all amazing and fresh. By this point, Jeramy was starting to feel better so at around 3 pm I went up the mountain to bring him down to the river so he could bathe, cool off and enjoy a good swim.  The hike from our bunkhouse accommodations to the river and back was long even with full energy. Jeramy is so tough and I am so glad he was feeling better at this point from Heat Stroke. He was awesome to have along and many thanks to all the care the ladies gave him.

We finished the workday with a great swim in the bathing hole at the river as a group. The river was swift-moving and 12” higher than the day before from all the rain, but it was warm and it felt like a luxury to us all at the end of each day.

The river is the lifeline of the Haitian people in the mountains. In the morning a few of us would get up and climb to the top of our mountain and look around in the valley to watch the activity of the people throughout the hills. Farmers were all over the hillside, kids dressed up going to school, women going to the river to wash clothes and get water. This was an amazing view and from here you can see the world stayed the same in the hills since man came to Haiti in the 1500’s.

That evening was filled with Q & A’s with our host Daniel, a wonderful God loving man who loves his people and giving back to others. Their ministry is very real and filled with love and selflessness. I would like to thank our entire team for being wonderful, caring individuals.

May God bless all of you.

This update by John Tilstra.

Haiti Day 4: Waking up in the Mountains of Marbial

Well, I just woke up from our first night in the mountains of Marbial and aside from some pretty intense snoring, I slept better than I thought. One would think after a 3-hour journey from Jacmel that included a 90-minute mountain hike, sleep would be the easiest part but this was different… Bunkhouse in tropical mountains, surrounded by a mosquito net, wildlife calls you’ve never heard. Needless to say, I was happy to be on the top bunk with Dano guarding me below. What I knew for sure was that I was just a few hours into the most amazing adventure in my life.

After breakfast, we made the short but steep hike to the school to not only see out Haitian friends were already hard at work (Love you Toto!) but the sight of hundreds of beautiful Haitian children of all ages sitting in classrooms learning. I couldn’t help but ask myself how they look so great each day living in this terrain, as we struggle to roll out of bed each day living in the blessed and prosperous conditions we have been fortunate to know all our lives. They were simply so grateful for the opportunity that Marline and Daniel have provided them with.

The work started and to be expected after a few minutes of laying concrete block it became apparent that my job would be to carry block and mortar as my skills didn’t match those of guys like Kristian & Kyle and the Haitians were too polite to tell me to get out of the way. 🙂

The workday came and went with us successfully building two-thirds of the first classroom. Exhausted and soaked in sweat, Jonas & Kenault led us to the local swimming hole which was nothing short of amazing. Marlaine and her kitchen staff cooked us a wonderful meal before J.T. lead us into a group conversation to learn more about one another, our life story and why we chose to take this opportunity to help the Haitian people. There were some tears and lots of amazing stories that made me realize I was part of a wonderful team. At 8 pm, which became the norm, it was back under the mosquito net for another deep sleep.

Thank you to J.T and the entire Centra team, but most importantly to Marlaine, Daniel, Kenault, Jonas, Toto and all my new Haitian friends who have made this an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.

This update by Steve Bartlett.