a ninth home for the holidays

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I begin this post with a view of retirement.

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Now that we are both retired, we can enjoy extra days at the beginning and end of our annual Thanksgiving adventure to Juarez with our family. We will count and name our blessings one by one until heaven is our home. How blessed we are the Andersons let us crash in the comfort of their home in Queen Creek, AZ, several days prior to our drive to El Paso — and even provide a furry companion!

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Attending church with them is always a highlight.

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. . . and sharing in whatever happens those particular days. This year it included watching Quinn and Marissa help Sarah assemble “Save the Date” announcements.

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Soon we were on the road to El Paso, where we enjoyed what is now a tradition of Texas Roadhouse food. You know: “When in Texas . . . ”

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As always, we meet the rest of the team — this year thirty-two of us, up from the original thirteen — at Harvest Christian Center to shift supplies and our necessaries to the Missions Ministries trailers.

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It’s always a great reunion as we reconnect with family members and meet new ones.

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After final shopping at Walmart, we cross the border. This year was seamless, with minimal “taxes” paid for the contents of the trailers. In fact, it went so well the end-of-day light provided new vistas as we head toward the colonias.

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I won’t lie. Unloading the trailers and displaying all the diapers and formula donated to the work of Babies of Juarez remains an annual highlight for me. But this is a year-round effort, and other groups get to do the same thing, giving Quinn regular opportunities to offer supporters visual results of their donations. It’s a beautiful sight!

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Helpers Sage (and Brynn, who scooted off before this picture) have learned the importance of stacking the supplies to exact specifications (labels facing forward, nothing upside down, etc). We might have missed one or two, but there’s grace at this hour of a long day.

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And then, the haul back to the storage room,

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a community effort that always brings an even bigger smile to my face.

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And to Cassidy’s face too. She knows her Gus needs pictures!

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We just keep making back/forth trips until it’s all moved.

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There she is! We found Brynn . . .

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Last spring this activity center was added to the mission team center. It’s a wonderful space for morning “assembly,” when we start each day with highlights, worship singing, and devos without the distraction of kitchen sounds. We did miss the wafting smell of bacon though.

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After breakfast we’re transported to the job site and gather around the pre-poured concrete foundation with the family whose home we will build. This year we got acquainted with Carlos, Rosa, Carlos (Charley), and Bianca.

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Quinn checks in with our beloved Leo.

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The work gets going. I climbed a dirt hill to get this shot.


Randee caught me in the act.

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Pano view of the job site.

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The Hatch women.

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My girl swings a man-sized hammer with the best of ’em!

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Cousins who swing hammers together . . .

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You can hear the cacophony of hammering sounds, can’t you?

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Krista and Rafa from the Mexican crew teamed up — he got the nails started and Krista pounded them home.



Time to raise the walls!

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Bailey holds the outer wall while Leonel braces it with the interior wall.


Hardworking Tera takes a break.

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Add a roof . . .

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Time out for Rock Paper Scissors.

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Now the dreaded insulation.


And the brave team who stepped up to cut and install it.

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Inside the windows are cut . . .


. . . while the inspector/catcher waits outside.

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Team Macy installs windows.

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While up on the roof . . .

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. . . preparation for a new kind of roofing, one that will last years longer.

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Hey, up there!

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Hello down there!

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We found photographing these two irresistible. Fifty years from now they’ll be saying, “Remember when we caulked windows together?”


With such a large work team, Mauri and I could take observation breaks as needed.

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During one observation break, Emmanuel told us his remarkable story of war and loss and refugee camps and redemption and hope.

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And by the end of the morning, we had a house with four insulated and windowed walls, three rooms, and a metal roof!


But wait, a high spot still needs a bit of caulk and the ladders are all in the truck.

Are you hungry? Let’s head back to the team center to see what delicious authentic Mexican food the cooks have prepared for us.


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OK, so this picture is really a breakfast shot. What can I say?

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Afternoon on the first day brings multiple options, so I showed up first at the clinic, hoping to get a shot of Cassidy helping in the pharmacy, since I missed her on the job site. But it was hard to be disappointed when I had these two willing to pose — Doctor Scott Finkbeiner and Nurse Sarah Morrison. They offer medical help to the community mornings and afternoons while the rest of us build the house.

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Soon we loaded ourselves into the vans and headed for a few visits.


First a quick stop at the house Cassidy and Maycee (and Quinn and a group from Gilbert Christian Schools) built in October.

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Of special interest, Carmen, the grandmother raising her 14 grandchildren. She always welcomes us with open arms.

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Last year we learned it was her birthday, so this year we showed up with a few presents.

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And we stumbled through “Happy Birthday to You” in Spanish. Sage and Brynn are learning Spanish in school and loved getting to use it on this trip.

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Next, a stop to see Jasmine and her three children. Hers was our second build, eight years ago.

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We especially love to see how Fidencio is doing, each year an obvious improvement over the previous. He’s become a happy chatterbox though his cerebral palsy inhibits his ability to walk.

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Still, one of the biggest improvements noted over time is Jasmine’s brilliant smile. We count on Krista to fill us in later on all Jasmine and Fidencio had to say.

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And then the whole team heads to one of the local churches for what we call a food outreach.

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After everyone who comes is fed, they gather ’round tables for crafts . . .

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. . . or head outside for soccer or giant bubbles.

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We wonder what Dusty would do if no one brought a baby to the outreach.

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Back at the job site the following morning the inside crew put their muscles to work on the sheetrock.

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Outside it’s all hands on paint rollers!

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Progress inside, a crew of happy mudders!

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Carlos is a sheetrocker by trade, so he (I’m sure) appreciated this opportunity to show his son how it’s done.

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Did I mention Bailey and Sarah are engaged to be married in June?

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Jonathan is still smiling as we near completion.

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Emily poses by the door trim she meticulously painted. (We’re instructed not to paint the screen door.)

Cass and Sage

Super cute cousins!

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I must have had a premonition about the house color choices.

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A dirt-pile view of the finished house.

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While the family waits next door, we take in all the items Lea gathered stateside to make the house a home.

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You see here that John manages to do both photography and work!

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Mauri in thoughtful repose waits for the interior decorators to finish their magic.

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The house is wired for electrical, though not hooked up yet. Also, the mud has to dry before the interior can be painted.  And now everything is ready for the dedication.

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Pastor Luis joins the family, and with translator Olga’s help they hear from members of our team and we hear from them. We pray together and dedicate this new home to God.

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We can only imagine how this might feel . . .

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(Thanks, John, for these great shots!)

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Just a few pictures of the afternoon trip to the orphanage.

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That’s Krista reading scripture in the evening church service. The team also went to the front to sing “This is Amazing Grace!” In English, of course, but then the locals sang it in Spanish.

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Our ninth family Thanksgiving build came to a close on Saturday morning.

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Each of the three mornings we gathered in the blue activity center and everyone took turns sharing highlights from the previous day. As we left for breakfast the final morning, I snapped this picture of the expansion of the team center and imagined what would happen here only a few days later. Quinn would return with another team, this time made up of the pastors, elders, and staff of her church: Redemption Gateway. Their 2017 Christmas offering would fund what they built on that concrete slab last week — additional accommodations for future teams. CLICK HERE to hear their lead pastor, Luke, tell a bit about their time here. Careful now, you might get hooked on his excellent teaching and go back for more every week. I should know . . .

It will surprise you, I’m sure, to learn I have many more pictures I could have shared. But I do have one more related story I’ll post separately. Thanks for joining us in spirit through this illustrated story. We know many people prayed for us and gave from their resources to make it happen, and we are grateful.

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4 Responses to a ninth home for the holidays

  1. faye pruitt says:

    Sherry, I always enjoy your blogs and pictures. Your Thanksgiving blogs are some of my favorite! You all are such a blessing to those you serve and those of us who are with you in spirit!

  2. Tom &janet Ridens says:

    Oh Sherry thank you for this update!!
    I so enjoyed reading & viewing each picture!!
    If was such a blessing meeting y’all when y’all stayed in our Cozy Adobe. Some day I’d so enjoy getting to know yall.
    May THE LORD GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS & KEEP you, tom & janet ridens

  3. Randee Anderson says:

    Another amazing post. Loved it! Love and Hugs, Randee Sent from my iPhone


  4. Pingback: don’t give up | a little bit of this and a little bit of that

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