a third home for the holidays

It’s hard to know where to begin to describe our third home-for-the-holidays adventure. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve been a pictorial witness to the beauty of the Mexican people and the hardship they face daily. The opportunity to make life a little easier for one family in the colonias outside Juarez drew us back yet again. And once again I’ll let our photos do most of the talking.

It takes a good deal of planning to pull off a mission trip, from deciding whether or not to go…all the way down to the nitty gritty of what to put in our suitcases. And last Wednesday most of our team, which was larger that the first two, piled into several cars and a truck loaded with supplies and drove from Gilbert, AZ, down to El Paso, TX.

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There we moved the supplies (largely diapers and formula for Babies of Juarez) from the U-Haul to the Missions Ministries trailer.

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Two white vans and the loaded trailer head for Mexico.

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At the team center it was all hands on deck—once again—to unload the trailer for sorting.

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Diapers and formula over here, stuff for “the family” over there, food for the neighborhood outreach in that corner.

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Scott shot this cool panoramic image on his cell phone.

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Type-A Quinn gets to direct how the photo staging goes for all the Babies of Juarez donations—all labels face forward and are stacked in an orderly fashion. She e-mails the photos along with an update to the growing number of donors to that ministry. While in Juarez she gets to see the results from the supplies people have given: babies with chubby cheeks and healthy smiles.

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Once the photo is taken, the mountain is disassembled and hauled yet again to the storage room.

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There it was carefully sorted and shelved for easy access. Pastors from the five churches in the colonias take great joy in distributing the supplies where they are needed most.

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So….you’ve already figured out that our first day is mostly spent carrying boxes etc. from point A to point B to point C to point D. By bedtime we’re all ready for…bed!

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Quinn sings along with John and Mauri as they prepare for the seven a.m. worship singing and devotions. None of us had a turkey to dress but had plenty for which to be thankful. Then it was off to see our job site and get started on the work of the day.

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As always, the foundation had already been poured, the baño already built. The seasoned builders knew without direction how to get the ball rolling. These boards need to be over there, find your nail aprons and hammers.

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Brian Wilson and son Max

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Mama and daughter team up.

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Side by side father and son hammering. What could be more musical than that?

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The Pape family—Darren, Karla, Karlie Jo, Kyle

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That Bailey knows how to wield a hammer!

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Neil and Randee (Dusty’s parents) make a good framing team.

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Every job site needs a supervisor.

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My job was also supervisor, though I will brag that the ten nails I hammered went straight in (an improvement over the past two years).

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These little girls, Eveline and Sandra, will soon have a home! Carlos and Sandra have seven children, with another due in a month. Though three rooms might seem small to us, it will feel like a mansion to them. Right now they live in a rented trailer on the ranch where Carlos, Sandra, and three of the children work. A large portion of their wages goes toward rent. So this home will increase their income, sorely needed to feed such a large family.

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Erin and Sage meet and greet.

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Erin’s bebé belly doesn’t leave much room for two (more) on her lap. Sage didn’t always find it easy to share her mama’s attention, but she’ll be sharing it full time with a brother or sister beginning in January. Erin used the job site as a lab for the days ahead.

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Sandra’s mother (hooded sweatshirt) lives in a Missions Ministries house on the same property, along with her son and his family.

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Krista shows Sara and Israel how they can help.

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No child-labor laws in Mexico.

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Bring it!

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Workers occasionally take pity on the site supervisor (that would be me, the one whose physical limitations has her on the sidelines most of the time) and offer her company.

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Krista noticed the children wore shoes many sizes too big and without laces. Leo noticed as well and suggested a field trip to the team center storeroom, where they could each shop for two pairs of (donated) shoes each. Mom came too, of course.

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Oh, my! This picture makes me want to grin and cry at the same time. Every little girl needs a pair of fancy red shoes.

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You get it! You’re grinning and crying too! It takes only a pair of new shoes to create those beautiful smiles. (Make special note of Israel, the one in the middle. You can’t see it in this picture, but his jeans are so many sizes too big he had to hold them up with one hand to walk.)

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Sadly, there was no sign of a smile from tiny Jeremias.

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Cassidy entertains the littles while the others shop. Later she shared this as one of her trip highlights.

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As we rounded the corner toward the job site, I nudged Sandra (the mom) and pointed to what had formed into a house while we were away. She smiled and said, “It’s beautiful.” Imagine my surprise to hear her speak English after I had sat in silence beside her! Her brother lived in Dallas for several years and learned enough English to communicate well with us.

The work team didn’t wait for our return to raise the walls. How rude! And it’s my favorite part.

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Here’s how it happened.

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Raising the walls….

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Raising the roof!

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Sandra finds a spot to entertain her two youngest with a book of Spanish words that Krista brought for them.

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Looks like Sandra (the daughter) can learn from it too.

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Cass entertains Sandra. I heard her say softly, “Mi nombre es Cassidy.”

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Roofing is serious business for Kyle.

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For Marissa too!

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John’s a serious roofer too but he’ll take time to smile for me.

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Mauri puts the finishing touches on this “nearly perfect” corner.

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Insulation on the inside…

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…and by the end of the first morning we posed for this picture.

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After a morning of physical labor, the team is ready for some R&R. Sage’s baby gets to swing.

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Her parents, John and Erin, enjoy a few minutes of quiet while she naps.

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The team center couldn’t be more pleasant and comfortable.

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Mauri puts his newly replaced knee to good use at the hoop.

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What do you think? Did it go in?

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If anyone gets hungry between meals, they have no one to blame but themselves. The food is delicious and bountiful!

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…thanks to this crew (and others not pictured). They even fed us a delicious turkey/dressing/etc dinner for Thanksgiving.

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Something new this year was a neighborhood prayer walk. We divided our team in half with a translator for each and stopped at homes along both sides of the road offering to pray for specific requests of the neighbors. After a few minutes we offered the family a water filtering system (thanks to a generous donor) and explained how to use it.

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See the other team way down the road?

—–

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Go fix the thermostat of your house to 60 degrees. Next turn on your most powerful household fan to the highest setting. Now put a pile of fine gritty dirt in front of it. Finally, stand five inches in front of the dirt. Now you can fully appreciate our work weather for Day Two….exterior paint day! I had the very important job of holding the paint tray to prevent it from blowing off. My black jacket didn’t stay black for long.

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Sage was a trouper, even gave Krista a smile for this picture.

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But it wasn’t especially fun.

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The outside crew jumped in…all hands on deck.

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Grandma wanted to help.

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Windblown!

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Way up high…

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Way down low…

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The inside crew hangs and tapes the drywall. Not an easy task.

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Mom and son drywall team.

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The Wilson men work as a mud team.

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Back out in the wind, Quinn gets started on the trim.

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My daughter rocks! (Sorry for the momentary proud-mom outburst. Surely I’m allowed one.)

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Speaking of (but without bragging) these two are a remarkable team. This is a rare moment when they can work side by side at a job site.

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Someone said “It looks like IKEA!” Which isn’t far from the intention. This house boasts the colors of the Swedish flag, a tribute to Quinn’s dad and grandparents, who passed on to her their fully Swedish heritage. (My half of the gene pool watered it down quite a bit.)

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Lea’s hands bear a different representation.

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Once the house was declared complete, more hauling followed, with a pause to put together the table.

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Everyone gathered around as Krista reminded the family that their house was built not only with our hands but also by many others who gave of their finances and prayed for God’s blessing. But even greater than that, their house is a gift from God.

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The family is not overcome with emotion, as it might appear; they were merely responding to a wind blast.

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We all cheered as the keys to their new home were turned over.

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Inside they found the table and donated clothes for the kiddos and food and household goods and games and beds and bedding and small pieces of furniture and more.

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The family always receives a Spanish Bible, signed by team members.

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Carlos likes the view from inside.

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We were glad Carlos (the dad) was able to get off work to come to the home dedication. We’re told there’s little grace for missing work for any reason.

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It’s hard to fathom a house with insulation and electric wiring could be built in two mornings, but may I present the evidence? And may I boldly suggest this might be a project you and a team from your church or school might want to undertake? I promise you will gain far more from the experience than you can imagine!

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Check this out. In the colonias (neighborhoods) we are far from anything dangerous. Plus, a mountain range separates us from the city of Juarez.

Quinn works for Missions Ministries now, serving as team coordinator. So just type her name, followed by missionsministries.org and get the ball rolling. Be warned! Once you’ve experienced the joy of building a home for a deserving family, you’ll be hooked.

—–

But the fun continues!

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This is a Missions Ministries church, shepherded by Pastor Luis. He was in the picture of the dedication. This shows us preparing for the neighborhood food outreach.

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We created an assembly line for the lunches. It’s the only meal many of the folks will eat that day.

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There are always plenty of babies to hold.

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Then we offer various crafts and activities for the folks who come. I’m not much use on the job site, but I can be a pretty good craft director (with the able help of co-director Marissa).

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Face painting is always a hit.

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And what little girl wouldn’t want her nails polished?

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Mauri was in charge of teaching yoyo.

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This little guy might need to grow a few more inches before that yoyo will work. Maybe he could stand on the table.

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The object was to play jacks, to actually jump rope. But I handed them out and called it good. Next time I’ll know better.

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No language required for soccer.

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By evening the space was transformed back into a church.

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Sandra shared a few words of appreciation to the team for her family’s new home.

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The empty benches are where we sat when we weren’t…

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…singing.

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The worship team. What do you notice about them? I’ll tell you this much: They made a joyful noise!

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Some fun for me. I took this picture after the service. And here’s the fun part:

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Lolita and her family got a new home in 2007 on the Andersons’ first build trip. Language doesn’t seem a barrier to their ongoing friendship.

Back at the team center we take an intentional break to enjoy some time together.

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A rousing game of Spoons

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The women of these three couples were friends in high school. Lea’s wish of having her husband and friends share this experience came true. It was her second build, while the others were first timers.

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Cousins Krista and Quinn patiently pose for the necessary photo of them for my series that dates back to their first year of life. Oh look, who is that on the wall? Was that there all along?

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Leo and Susy are now family to us.

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The Ratays were in for a treat to meet a staff member’s son, whom they sponsor.

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In the morning we said our farewells. Mauri says a few words to the security guard.

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Cass needed one more basket.

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And of course we posed for the official team picture!

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Another nearly smooth border crossing back into the U.S. The nearly part means Neil got chosen for a random profiling, which took longer than necessary because that’s just how things go. But because Mauri always carries a hacky sack in his pocket, the time passed quickly.

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With this action shot I will close. If you made it all the way here, bless you! Since this is my way of journaling, I take liberty to include the whole story—for my own sake, yes, but also for those who contributed to the success of our mission trip. Before we left, I mentioned the need for clothes for the many children who would live in the house we were about to build. Two of those quickly returned with stacks of outgrown boy clothes, which we happily boxed up to take along. Remember my mention of Israel’s too-big pants? It was the ultimate trip highlight for Lea to see Israel show up at the food outreach with both hands free, no need to use one to hold up his pants. He now wore pants that fit him perfectly!

Take away this one thing: Little turns into much when we follow the God-provoked nudges to give and go and serve. Please don’t miss out!

+++++ Links to the first two builds +++++

a home for the holidays      •      a second home for the holidays

This entry was posted in family matters, travels. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to a third home for the holidays

  1. Tim J. says:

    Thank you for doing all that you do.

  2. Cheryle Takacs says:

    fantastic…this was so touching. I am wiping tears of joy at the smiles and hugs.

  3. What a wonderful Thanksgiving trip you all had. MayGod continue to use each of the ones on this trip,enrich their lives for the time spent in MX.Prayer for those who just received a new home. What a blessing each of you had during this journey.

    Thanks for sharing! Praying for travel mercies as you return home.

  4. Jenn Perez says:

    I’m crying all over my lunch, Sherry. This is beautiful–the work and your telling of it.

  5. Lea Ratay says:

    Sherry:
    Wow! I just got a chance to look through these today. I had no idea how wonderful it was going to be to look back at those awesome memories. You did an absolutely amazing job and you made it so easy for me to forward our trip to other friends and family.
    We soooo enjoyed spending time with you and your family!!!! You are a wonderful group that we were blessed to be with.
    Happy holidays!!!!
    Love,
    The Ratays

  6. Pingback: October and November 2012 » Eighty Three Hundred

  7. Pingback: we nailed it! | Mauri and Sherry

  8. Pingback: a fifth home for the holidays | a little bit of this and a little bit of that

  9. Pingback: a sixth home for the holidays | a little bit of this and a little bit of that

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