Mrs. Castillo (Elena)

Heyo! 12th grader Elena Reyna aqui! I'm a missionary at the Cactus House in El Cenizo, Texas where the dogs are cute and the people are friendly. I just wanted to stop for a moment and express the immense gratitude I feel for being able to serve Mrs. Yolanda Castillo. 

Mrs. Castillo is an elderly widow who owns a chihuahua named Cannelita. She speaks no English and The Cactuses (my small group... yes, we know the plural is cacti, it's funny) are replacing Mrs. Castillo's roof, water heater, sink and cabinet, painting her house the color of the sky, and any other odd jobs the Construction Dads find. By work day 1, I already had a soft spot for her as she insisted we all drink the limeade she made for us because — as she puts it — "ustedes es tan dando, pues yo doy," which basically means "you all give, I give." 

These last couple of work days, I haven't exactly been physically working... (save VBS in the morning — kids have energy!) mostly, I've been learning. My Spanish has improved because I've become Mrs. Castillo's personal translator for all who speak no Spanish — even though my friends Aron speaks it way better than I do. I also just love to talk to Mrs. Castillo and keep her company. We have great conversations in my broken Spanish, and she never makes fun of my Spanish. She's extremely patient with me, which is great. I've learned so much about her, and I've also learned how to make her famous limeade — which I go offer to all the missionaries every 30 minutes or so.

Limeade: 6 limes, 2 spoonfuls of sugar, and about 2 liters or so of water.

She dotes on us, constantly trying to give back, whether it be tea, limeade, cookies, candles, and CDs — all of which I've received. She is so similar to my Mami Lucy (my grandma) that it's scary. They both love to feed me or to make me relax. They both make delicious limeade (it tastes exactly the same as my Mami Lucy's) and hibiscus tea. And I love to talk to both of them.

Every couple of minutes, she tells me she is incredibly grateful for all the work "the young people" do. She also says that she thanks God every day for us coming into her life, and that she'll never forget us. I'm incredibly grateful too, for the fact that I have met her and been given the chance to spread the love of God to her as well. Every time I see her, she gives me a hug and asks if I want "aguita."

I'm so glad that for my first and only Mission Laredo, I get to converse with and work for an incredibly sweet, caring, cute, and humble woman. Mrs. Castillo has truly touched my heart, and I'll always remember our random conversations, her killer limeade, and her insistent desire to give us things. She is absolutely a gift from God, and I won't ever forget her. 

Adios de Laredo, 

Elena Reyna

P.S. I have pulled some nails... I'm not just talking all day.