By David Estep, adult volunteer with First UMC in Turlock, CA
For me, this place is Family. For me, it is History. And for me, it is Family. Wait! That is a full circle. Let me explain.
In the early 1990s, after I was grown and beginning to develop a life and family, my Dad was tasked with a new job. This took Mom and Dad to Southern California, settling in Chula Vista for 6 years. You see, he was a civil engineer working on rapid transit, dams, and hydroelectric projects. With the movement of water through mountains, he also became a tunneling specialist.
Dad’s project was the South Bay Ocean Outfall Project. This was multifaceted and designed to clean up the drainage that comes from the Tijuana Valley watershed, which had previously created unhealthy conditions on nearby beaches.
“…this summer while I was staying in San Diego for SSP, I felt his presence. You see, the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Campground is built in that Tijuana Rivershed where he worked.”
The project was a water treatment facility, and piping that took treated water under the ocean 3+ miles, controlling the direction of that treated water based on tidal influences. I remember visiting my Dad on his site, putting on a hardhat, taking an elevator down the main shaft, and riding a rail system out to the drilling machine that would build the pipe behind itself as it drilled. At the end of the project, that drilling machine became an ocean reef that encourages marine life.
Unfortunately, my Dad passed away from cancer 3 years ago. But this summer while I was staying in San Diego for SSP, I felt his presence. You see, the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Campground is built in that Tijuana Rivershed where he worked.
On Adventure Wednesday, we walked from the campground past his project site, to Friendship Park. Unfortunately, Friendship Park has changed significantly since our church last visited with SSP in 2017. At that time, we were able to send half of our SSP group to Tijuana, and the other half to the US side of Friendship Park. We were able to pinky kiss through the fence and understand what families experience living across a border. That was not possible this year, though I believe it can change back to my previous memory.
“Unfortunately, Friendship Park has changed significantly since our church last visited with SSP in 2017.”
I am proud to carry on the Estep family name, participate with SSP for 10+ years, and share with you a piece of the legacy of the South Bay Ocean Outfall Project that connects the history of the Tijuana River Valley to the SSP 2022 volunteer experience ‘In This Place.’
Editor’s Note: The US side of Friendship Park has undergone dramatic changes since SSP first began working with volunteers in this region in 2015. To follow along with updates from Friendship Park and the surrounding borderlands, follow Friends of Friendship Park on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and their website.