a tenth home for the holidays

It’s hard to assimilate this year’s Thanksgiving build. Going into it I thought, as I often do, I’d go light this year on the pictures, then pick a few favorites to report here. After all, you who follow this blog have already taxed your scrolling finger through nine similar posts. What could this tenth post possibly add to your imaginings of this “thing we do” every year?

For starters, we’ve never dealt with pouring rain in El Paso!

The Ratays weren’t able to join our team this year, but they shopped as usual to provide household furnishings and decor and extras for two houses. They rented a truck, hauled it down to El Paso, transferred it to Mexico-bound trailers, then flew back to Phoenix.

We were a small but mighty team, similar in size to our first Thanksgiving in Juarez. That year Sage (orange jacket) traveled in utero! Erin noted that Brynn (pink jacket), now six years old, is the same age Cassidy (red hood) was on our first build.

The rain did not let up as three vans pulling three trailers crossed the border and headed toward the Missions Ministries team center. Some rooms needed to be reassigned to accommodate the unusual flooding there. Many (most? all?) of us wondered what we’d find at the job site the following morning, as more rain was predicted.

But even without a rainbow, God stopped the rain and we had perfect weather to accomplish the task at hand.

Please take a moment to admire the perfectly poured foundation, the work of Lencho.

Let’s give a round of applause to this faithful work crew we’ve grown to love! Leo, with his wife, Susy, heads up the Mexican side of the ministry. Leonel is their son. More lovable people you will never meet. Juan Carlos and his family visited Quinn and Dusty in Arizona last summer; Juan Carlos was baptized at their church.

Time to get down to business!

Sarah, on the left, and her husband, Colton, serve year round as ministry team leaders with Missions Ministries. They give up Thanksgiving with their own families to be part of our family every year.

Oh, look—it’s me! I take pictures more than hammer nails but make sure I do enough work to legitimately say I helped build a house. Dusty caught me pulling my camera (a.k.a. phone) out of my back pocket.

Here they are—the family whose home we built together. Mundo, Karem, and Ennis are so precious!

Part way through the morning Karem carried out food from a neighboring house—gorditas, oatmeal, and the following day sandwiches—to serve us! Their income comes from selling food at a local food cart!

My niece Krista and Leo.

Raising the first wall—a group undertaking.

Interior walls added for stability (meaning we can let go now).

The roof framing goes on next.

And the insulation team gets to work.

Cassidy entertains her younger cousins when there’s no more work for them to do.

Cutting windows takes no small amount of muscle and endurance!

The Macy men (and others) stood ready to caulk, insert, and trim them.

No caption needed!

The Anderson family team tackles the front windows: newlyweds Bailey and Sarah; Sarah’s brother, Seth; and Papa (grandpa) Neil. Sometimes it takes a village.

But once work at the job site is complete for the day, and we’ve filled our bellies with more delicious authentic Mexican food, we can finally unload the trailers because—look! Blue skies!

Sage helps sort and stage the diapers and formula collected or purchased from donations to Babies of Juarez. I’ll write a separate post about this (especially but not exclusively for the donors to the matching-gift campaign we ran in October).

Once the contents of the trailers were unloaded and sorted, we headed for Pastor Fransisco’s church to hold a food outreach.

I admit to significant joy in watching my grandchildren enter into this sharing opportunity. The impact it makes on them is immeasurable, the positive effect it will have on their adult lives profound.

Cassidy, for example, has been part of these house-building expeditions for 13 of her 16 years of life—no fewer than five a year. Here she greets a family she grew to love as she helped build a home for them a few years ago.

And here Sage uses her Spanish (she’s been learning it in school and at home for four years now) to help these women make attractive tissue-paper flowers to add color to their homes.

Here, grandson Bailey (a Spanish major) counts off a sack race for these boys.

You’re wondering about that mustache, aren’t you?

He’d been inside earlier, where Jonathan carefully peeled and placed each one.

When Dusty was nearby, he’d snap a picture so the boys could have a look.

My slap bracelets were a hit with both boys and girls!

Stickers and coloring. Something for everyone, inside and . . .

…outside. John made sure even the littlest guy made a basket.

And Quinn made sure the latecomers (and comers for seconds) got enough to eat.

“What craft did you bring, Dusty?” The answer is always “holding babies.”

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, the Missions Ministries staff invited all ten of the families to come to the team center for dinner. They even provided transportation!

Six of the ten families came and enjoyed games and conversation, thanks to the presence of two interpreters.

That’s what made it possible to set up photos with each family and those of us who worked on their house. This is our 2011 family—Jasmine and her three children.

Here we are in 2011! A sudden rainstorm washed away our fresh paint.

Fidencio, now 13 years old, makes some progress toward standing and maybe walking, with the help of a new walker and Sarah’s expertise as an occupational therapist.

We posed with all six families, but I share only one more comparison.

Here we are in 2017 with Karina, Luis, their boys Miguel and Javier, and their new home.

It’s always a treat to arrive at the job site the following morning and see what color we’ll paint the house.

Everyone jumps in, the brave ones taking the high parts.

There’s “high” work inside too that also requires bravery!

Daddy/daughter mud work. What could be better?

Don’t forget the baño!

Final step before moving in!

We do our best without the Ratays to direct us in their vision for decor and placement.

Here’s where we express blessings for Mundo, Karem, and Ennis, give a signed Spanish Bible, and pray for them in their new home.

But something happened in our blessings—Ennis had something special to give Bailey, now a coach for the Ottawa University Arizona football team! Ennis, a high school senior, was named MVP after a winning season for his school team and gifted his prized jersey to demonstrate his appreciation.

Pastor Francisco hands over the keys!

Finally, it’s time to go inside!

Karem squeals with delight!

Ennis discovers his desk and computer!

They are overwhelmed and just a cute as they come!

No words!

After lunch the team visits Bienvenida a Casa, a safe place for children at risk, overseen by Pastor Francisco and his wife, Eloisa.

With God’s direction and help, Eloisa manages to look after a flock of children.

Apparently we take off our shoes to use the slide.

Our next stop is a visit to a new-to-us orphanage to drop off food from Midwest Food Bank in Gilbert, AZ. Quinn’s non-profit “Blessing for Life” allows her to shop for their needs and haul it to Mexico. Victor, the man who oversees this orphanage, spends much time praying—and God always meets the need. Always!

Krista explains the three-legged race—in Spanish, of course.

After dinner we attend the Friday night church service. Sarah, fluent Spanish speaker, interpreted the whole service. We’ve dubbed her “Goodness and Mercy” because when Pastor Francisco preached on Psalm 23, he asked her to follow him across and around the platform while he illustrated how “Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life….”

A rousing game of foosball to end the day.

This is our granddaughter Esther, daughter to Leo and Susy. We’ve watched her grow up over the past ten years, and she invited us to come down for her graduation from high school in July.

Here she is (the next morning before we headed out) with all four of her U.S.A. grandparents.

We loaded up and headed toward El Paso, where we said goodbyes to most of our team. Mauri and I pace ourselves, staying over a night before the drive back to Phoenix, and arriving in time for evening church at Redemption Gateway.

Waiting a few days to fly home was easier on the checkbook and gave us a little more time with the Andersons. Cassidy led the student council Christmas decorating committee and we got to watch her in action.

I even got asked to make bows for the wrapped empty boxes.

We watched her in action on the basketball court.

A lopsided win is still a win!

Marissa, a junior at Grand Canyon University and employee at the Apple Store, missed out on our Thanksgiving trip because when you work in retail during the holidays you aren’t given a lot of choice. But here she is a long drive from school to cheer for her sister.

Quinn cooked a delicious dinner for us, but these cookies were devoured by the Gilbert Christian student council as they decorated the school for the Christmas holidays.

No need to feel sorry for us! We learned about Crumbl Cookies, a short drive from the Andersons’ home in Queen Creek.

We were kind and saved a few “crumbs” for Cassidy when she got home.

There’s no better finish to this story than a sweet look at a good man loving on a good dog. Having a few extra “chill” days before returning to our full December calendars felt luxurious and gave us time to process our remarkable and memorable days in Juarez.

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

3 Responses to a tenth home for the holidays

  1. Deborah Johansen says:

    Love all the pictures and your comments, explanations etc! Thank you for sharing these amazing trips!

  2. John Nill says:

    What a special ministry y’all enjoy as a fam! Great blessings!! In NYC for Cru Inner City event & Christmas fun. Brooklyn Tab this morning! ❤️

    On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 10:15 PM a little bit of this and a little bit of th

  3. Becky Williams says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey and ministry with me! I enjoyed it immensely! Blessings on you who are the feet of those who can not go with you! What a blessing you gave and what a blessing you received!

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