an eighth home for the holidays

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I don’t imagine Quinn will love this photo I’ve chosen to start the story of this year’s Thanksgiving “build” in Juarez. But her role is central in organizing and shopping for and facilitating the project every year, and it seems even more daunting to think she pulled it off this year with the use of only three-quarters of her limbs. Randee managed to distance-shadow Quinn to assist when needed, not an easy assignment for a daughter-in-law who prefers to pretend she isn’t slightly disabled from foot surgery.


While Mauri and I road-tripped to El Paso, others loaded “Faith,” the Babies of Juarez trailer. So I had to count on some of the team already gathered to send me a few pictures of that first important part of our Juarez adventure. Marissa, fresh home from college for Thanksgiving, digs into the effort.


Her boyfriend, Kaden, joined in too, though he stayed behind to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. Cassidy and John are always ready to help.


We appreciate even more the blended-familyness for this build, as Erin’s parents joined us for the first time. Sage and Brynn get after a cleaning project.


Here’s the loading team. Dusty is an experienced trailer packer with the spatial awareness required to utilize every square inch of space.


Randee, Krista, and John texted pictures to me while Mauri and I traveled through New Mexico, enjoying this crescent moon over the landscape.


As usual, the team met at Harvest Christian Center in El Paso the following afternoon, where we transfered baby supplies and furnishings for the family to the Missions Ministries trailer that will cross the border.


My man can lift a whole kitchen with two hands!


Conferring . . .

Load?? Thanksgiving 2017

Down at the Mexico team center, the trailers are unloaded, and the diapers and formula for Babies of Juarez pose for a donor photo.


That is followed by a whole-group effort of moving all the supplies back to the storage rooms.







The young ones devised a way to carry all the loose, unpackaged stuff in one swell foop!


Diapers are shelved by size.


Formula by any means to make it fit!


Our days always begin with group singing, devotions, and a hearty breakfast. Then off to the job site.



The previously poured foundation serves as our gathering place to hear Colton’s construction tutorial.


Three generations of Hatch/Macy women pound those huge framing nails.


Cass adds to the hammering cacophony.

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Mauri even found me pounding at some nails.


Feast your eyes on my first nails (top two). Those beauties are 4 inches long!


Krista helps Javier nail the siding to the frame.


The trim team.



The narrow lot means we work in the roadway.


Color coordinated granddaughter . . .


Raising the walls!


One side keeps holding . . .


. . . while the other wall is raised. Don’t let the panorama curve fool you.


She’s smiling, but it was not easy for her to watch and not work.


The interior framing is added while the long walls are held in place.


Then the end walls go on.


And finally the roof!


Leonel gets right on the electrical while the sky is still exposed. Bags of insulation pulled in.

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Sisters Ashley and Sarah take on the less-favored job of measuring and cutting insulation strips.


Once there’s something to walk on, everyone wants a turn with the roofing nails.


Sage is deemed ready to join the roofing team.



Luis enjoys roofing his own home!


The morning’s work is complete, the home halfway finished.


Back at the team center the guys find a change of pace on the court.


At lunch the kitchen crew stopped our conversations to make a presentation. You see, every Thanksgiving our team brings gifts of jerky, peanut butter, and a chocolate treat for each member of the Mexican Missions Ministries staff. So this year the kitchen staff, construction crew, and security guards pooled their resources to give each member of our team a gift. Claudia, the only one who speaks English, said some nice things about Quinn, who is a regular presence there in the dining room.



They were so cute and pleased to present their gifts, I feel compelled to share every picture I took.


OK, last one.

In the afternoon we served food and shared activities with the neighborhood. Sage is learning Spanish in school and was eager to use her growing language skills.




Cassidy shares her skills another way.


And Mauri has discovered a brand new skill. He and his stick-on mustaches proved a big hit with the boys.







You won’t find Dusty at the “Food Outreach” without a babe in arms.


John and Erin made big bubbles to share. Another hit! Visualize Bailey behind me in a dusty soccer game.

The next morning, after devotions and food, we’re back on the job site. Another glorious day!


Everyone is eager to see what colors the house will be.


Kariña was especially pleased with the choice. She digs right in, along with her boys and their neighbor friend.


I overheard Brynn ask, “Do we actually have to paint the whole house?”

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She soon learned the benefit of the group effort.


Meanwhile, inside the house more heavy lifting. John and his dad-in-law are reminded of the advantage (or disadvantage!) of being tall.


While Scott and Mauri bend to reach their targets.


Sage’s turn to learn how to mud the seams.


Marissa and Guh (Randee) hard at work. I’m not sure Marissa received her due kudos for painting that under-eave part. Most of us don’t have the arm strength for it.


A ladder helps!


Scott snaps wife Lea, another champion painter.


The family who paints a baño together . . . what’s that saying?


There was never a more eager or fastidious painter than Kariña!


Neil touches up the spots the rest of us missed.


Cousins Quinn and Krista cooperate for yet another “series” pose, though this year Q is without a brush or roller.


Me ‘n’ my girl.


I don’t dare caption this photo, but I’ve smiled quite a bit thinking of various possibilities.


Now that the inside is swept, it’s time for the family’s attention to be diverted while we carry in the furnishings, etc.


Lea is the master designer, likened to none other than Joanna Gaines. She shops garage sales for just the right items to trailer in. Joy permeates the rooms as she directs the decorating, every detail considered.


She even brought soccer goals for the backyard of boys.


The view from that spot.


While the decorators finish up, Mauri and I stroll around to see the house from the back.


There it is! Can you see it?


Here’s a wider look.


Time to dedicate the house! Scott presents the Spanish Bible from our team.

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Then we gather around to pray for the family and their new home.


A Kodak moment: the passing of the keys.


The anticipation is high, but the family has no idea what awaits them inside. They know only that there will be beds.


Kariña and Luis see their furnished bedroom (with a framed family photo on the bedside table) and are overwhelmed with emotion.


Just look what Lea has done for their boys! “Fixer Upper”—right?


Our family photo grew by two this year. So great to have Ed and Joy with us!

I tell ya—it doesn’t get any better (but it could, if you want to join us next Thanksgiving)!

All of that accomplished in two mornings!


Two years ago a donor gave funds for this house, so the Mexican crew built it on their own. Imagine! Then Lea and Quinn drove a trailer of Lea’s shopping treasures down to finish the inside for this grandmother who is raising eight grandchildren in this small house. The children don’t have official papers so can’t attend school.


They help carry in food and supplies, purchased and trailered across the border.


Krista, hidden in the shadow, makes good use of her Spanish! She learned it was Grandma’s birthday, so we all gathered around to sing, “Feliz cumpleaños a ti!”


She invited us inside, but I took only this one picture—for Mauri. Next time we visit, I’ll ask (through Krista) who plays!


The kids just love to play, which Erin learned by . . . playing with them!


Colton too!


Soon it was time to load the van for our next visit. You can see the love between Grandma and Quinn (and Quinn’s protector mom-in-law making sure she doesn’t fall on that rocky surface).


Erin opened her arms for farewell hugs.


And the kids came running.

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Then a visit with Jasmine. The year we built for her that smile was nowhere to be found.


Then on to Bethel Orphanage! My participation this year involved helping carry all these boxes of food and supplies from the van to the kitchen. Quinn’s recent connection with Midwest Food Bank made it possible. Remember when we toured it last June? What a blessing to be the transporters and deliverers of all this needed food and supplies!


After a brief opportunity to clean up and a quick run-through of the song our team prepared, we were off to church! Any description of this part of our trip would be completely inadequate, so once again I’ll invite you to join us sometime for a first-hand experience. We often practice a song that is well known on both sides of the border, but this year we learned the chorus of “Niño Lindo.” In Spanish! It rang through my head night and day for days and days.


The next morning, all packed up and heading back to the U.S., we added one more highlight to our trip. Here Quinn stands between Pastor Francisco and his wife, Eloisa, and in the background you see the women’s shelter all ready now for its first inhabitants. God spoke to Eloisa’s heart regarding the need for a safe place for women and children in abusive situations. She searched the colonias for a reasonable location and finally found this one.


Her first vantage point was from that window in the abandoned neighboring property. She discovered a decent-looking building with land for growth and a high safety fence. She readily saw the potential but didn’t have access to $15,000 to purchase it. “Eloisa is a force!” says Quinn. The cost would not deter her. So she pulled Quinn from a job site last year to show her what she’d found.


I want to make sure you understand this was all God’s doing. He lets Eloisa and Quinn and all who participated in the fundraising stand back in awe at how much he can make out of our small efforts.



Here’s a glimpse inside. Joanna Gaines couldn’t have made this space any homier than Lea and her crew, who paused their busy lives to make yet another trip from Arizona to the colonias of Juarez, Mexico, to bless and provide a safe place for women and children.


This isn’t part of our build, but now that I’m telling the story I thought you might like to see that representatives from the city have come to visit the shelter and rated it highly. “They were surprised by this place,” Eloise wrote to Quinn (in Spanish, of course, translated by Google), “They said it is a very safe, very happy place.” The women asked how she bought this property, and Eloisa answered: “I believe in the power that prayer has, God opens doors to realize what He has deposited in your hands, people who believed in this project who believed him God.” Now she waits for the final approval to open “Welcome Home,” writing to Quinn.  “. . .we will see the fruits of this project very soon, is not in vain waiting, God will surprise us greatly.”

Can you see why I love this trip, can’t wait for another year to pass?


This photo op could not be passed up! On this trip were three sets of grandparents, each set sharing grandkids with one other set. Mauri and I were the common thread with all five grands in this photo.


I didn’t get everyone on the team pictured here, but I can’t miss a chance to reintroduce Sarah and Colton, whose job description with Missions Ministries is too vast to include here. But two more dedicated instruments of God’s grace could not be found. They do everything with the same cheer that shows on their faces. We are so grateful they give up Thanksgiving with their family to spend it with us.


Border-crossing hacky-sack tradition.


We’ve reached the finale in El Paso. The Andersons pull out of Harvest Christian Center with an empty trailer, ready to be refilled with diapers and formula for their next build trip in March.

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2 Responses to an eighth home for the holidays

  1. Marcile says:

    Once again l am thrilled and blessed to read your adventures. I love seeing the little ones learning great skills of work and relationships. I understand why you love it so much.

  2. Deborah Johansen says:

    Wonderful to see these pictures!! Thank you for posting them along with your fun comments!

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