Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In Their Own Words...

Recently, Matt and Amy Carrithers attended the inauguration of the Nina Rae Wesson community center in Mexico. The center holds a special place in their hearts – it's named after Matt's sister, Nina. The Carrithers recently shared their experience with their friends and family and allowed us to share it with you...

Thursday 8/30/07

We checked out of our hotel and went to the opening and dedication ceremony of the Nina Rae Wesson Center…the jewel in the crown of this visit. We were let in first, before the crowds, before the ceremony began. The property is on a hilltop with panoramic views of the city and the mountains surrounding it. The top level is a huge courtyard with a basketball area and a lovely bright blue wall (great for wall-ball!) - then steps go down to the slopy playground, then the two-story center itself. It is gorgeous inside, light, airy and clean. Pots of geraniums sitting in the sunshine. Lovely tiles.

We rounded a corner and there was the huge portrait of our lovely Nina and her children…we had forgotten it was going to be there, and it took several long minutes for us all to recover. The portrait and accompanying plaque are the heart of the main floor of the center, displayed prominently…her sunny smile will be reflected in the faces of the thousands, thousands of kids who see it and read about who she was.

We feel strongly that all the children of Jalisco are also Nina’s children now. We know without question that she would be so humbled, so honored, that we have continued her legacy of kindness in this way. As Matt put it - “My sister has many, many friends…some she never had the chance to meet.”

The ceremony was fantastic. A children’s choir sang. There was a military-style presentation of the Mexican flag (which we quickly learned how to salute!). Many wonderful, emotional speeches in Spanish and English. We had a wonderful lunch on the upper courtyard, during which we were amazed, looking around at all the dressed-up tables: here we are in a foreign country, strangers in a strange land, and we were looking at so many friends. Everywhere we looked: friends we’d made. An all-female mariachi band came, played and sang, and then traditional Mexican dancers with their whirling, colorful skirts. Awesome! All our sponsored kids were there. Sugey was much more courageous today, and she had huge smiles and many besitos (kisses) for us!

Our hearts were so full. We will be carrying Jalisco home with us.
Words could never express our thanks to Jim, Shanna, Jan, Lesly, Oscar, Alejandro, Margarita, Ophelia, Sara and the dozens of others who made our trip so fun, taught us so much, opened our eyes, bettered us as human beings by showing us how to provide “real help” and “real hope,” and made us feel so welcome in our new country and second home. The work you are doing is wonderful! We know we will see you all again soon!!

1 comment:

Shelley Smith Balough said...

To be honest, I haven't had the chance to read the entire blog. I just wanted to say that I knew Nina in college - she was the first person I met and we were best friends for a long time. We lost track for several years and then started corresponding a few years before her death. Those years are a blessing to me. I think of her so often (we have the same birthday); she is a kindred spirit. Thank you for your dedication to her. I never met her husband or children but could tell how much they meant to her. She was a beautiful person.