Back from Mexico (with photos!) and ready to sing.

Hey there... To try and describe my trip to Mexico is going to be a challenge, but I'm going to do my best! I had an incredible visit, got to see people that I haven't seen since August, and finished the week by passing out a lot of food to a lot of people. (Well, I was actually working the door, so I didn't pass out much food, but I shook a LOT of hands.)

Anyway, our week started at the Center of Operations in Oaxaca, Mexico, which is where Simply Smiles has committed to working. This is the poorest state in Mexico, and Oaxaca is the biggest city, so it makes sense to have a facility there. I couldn't believe how much construction had been done since I was there last summer! It was amazing.

The first part of our week consisted of working in Oaxaca as well as preparing for the upcoming food distribution we were going to be hosting down in the jungle. On Wednesday, we took the super long road trip down to the mountains, and it was as gorgeous as usual, and Wednesday night we arrived in Santa Maria Tepexipana, a village in the mountains of Mexico, and a place that I love to be!

Right away, we felt at home thanks to all of the little kids that always come up and greet us. They helped us get ready for the distribution by preparing the food, cleaning the property, setting up the fencing, etc. I felt like I was working hard, but those kids put me to shame every time! In addition, they also spend a fair amount of time trying to teach us to speak Zapotec, but I'm afraid I may be a bit of a lost cause. :)

On Friday, we passed out food to every single person that was there. No one left empty handed, which is always a great moment. Many of the people you've heard about were there, the little girl with no name (who is now named Mariella by the way!), Rigoberto, the little boy with one arm featured in Bryan's presentations, and a single mother, named Socorro, who I sing about in one of my newest songs, "Lay it Down."

Talking with Socorro this time, was my big experience this trip. A single mother, Socorro, does her best to provide for her children. As a homeless family, they move from house to house staying with friends and family, and some nights end up sleeping on the streets. As she and her children were waiting in line (they were some of the last ones there) 15 or so other families moved aside so that they could go through first, because they wanted to make sure that she and her children would make it through the line. It was an amazing thing to witness, and I couldn't believe how caring everyone was towards this family. What little they could give, they gave that day. And Socorro and her children? Incredibly gracious and kind to those that were helping them.

I've met this family a few times, and am looking forward to not only continuing to get to know them, but getting to finally see some of the opportunities that they'll get to take part in as Simply Smiles becomes more and more involved in this community.

I came home incredibly moved, a little irritable (it's a little annoying to watch politicians whine on the news when you've just experienced a week like this one) and ready to get to work. Songwriting is my job, and I'll do my best to honor my new friends as I write.

Enjoy the photos, Kristen ps...all photos were taken by my friend, Josh Dufresne. He's good!

Loading up the truck to head to the jungle.

Daddy longlegs. They can be kind of pretty, I guess.

The barbed wire that helps guard the property. Don't worry, everyone has it.

Our bathroom! Now we have a toilet that you can flush!

Out after eating some tacos.

Ana Christina.

Chucho...these kids should be models.

A shy cutie!

Denise...this trip she learned 'the repeating game'. Even with a face that cute, the game is still annoying.

Elias, sitting on our huge stack of beans.

The Nurnberger/Graves/Watts family photo!

These little girlies worked with us all day to help prepare and bag the food!

Jungle tree.

Mountain sky.

Little men.

Big smile on food distribution day!

Waiting patiently in the hot sun.

The line of people.

Everyone gets some candy at the end!

My friend Pete, the new Simply Smiles VP making a new friend!

Simply Smiles!

One of the first families we met, coming through the line.

Sometimes waiting in line can be a little frustrating.

My brother-in-law, Timothy. He worked so hard!

Some of the many beautiful faces we got to meet.

With a few girlies at the end of the day, Veronica & Jazmin. I heart them.

Beautiful sunset on a beautiful day.


Bryan and Nayeli.

Baby Wicho!

To finish off the day, I sang, Keep Hope Alive.