We’ve just returned from our fourth “Thanksgiving build” trip down to Kilometer 27, outside Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The similarities between our first build, our second build, and our third build allow us to be at ease, since we know what to expect. We’ve grown attached to the Mexican staff (directors, cooks, builders), calling them by name, greeting them with hugs, and applying feeble attempts at Spanish to our “conversations.” They’re all so willing to serve us and to serve with us.
Over the course of four years, I’ve moved away from using the word serve to describe what we do. Yes, the whole purpose of our trip is to build a house for a deserving family. We sponsor a food outreach and offer a few simple crafts to entertain the children (mostly) for a short time. We haul a large amount of donated diapers and formula across the border and load the team center shelves for distribution. But a mere two and a half days after arriving, we cross back into the USA…different, changed, better. Then we spend the next six hours in the car, traveling from El Paso to Phoenix, processing and dreaming of who we might encourage to join us next Thanksgiving to share in the wealth of this joyful experience.
Let’s consider this a plogpost, a photo log of of our joyful journey into the land of beautiful hard-working people who live within the challenge of poverty. You quickly see past the dust and litter and scruffy dogs and ramshackle homes to see God’s creation in each person, and that includes our own teammates.
So here’s the story of this year’s build, told with mostly pictures and a few necessary (I think) words.
Loading the trailer with donations and “other” takes all hands on deck.
There’s a story about this pic at the end. Stuff heading to Mexico.
In El Paso transferring supplies from the rented trailer to the Missions Ministries trailer.
Once we arrive at the Missions Ministries team center, all of the Babies of Juarez donations are “posed” for the picture to be shared with the donors.
Once photographed, the supplies get moved yet again.
It takes many hands to get the job done.
But oh the joy of knowing babies thrive because of this effort!
Arrival on the job site early Thanksgiving morning.
First we frame.
Then we nail on the siding.
No one is too young or too old to hammer in nails.
We always love when the recipients of the home join with the building. Dad Jorge Daniel shows his son Jorge Daniel, Jr. how it’s done.
Ready to raise the walls!
Held in place while the ends and interior walls are added.
Clear the way for the roof!
We let the guys move the roof.
See the hand from inside receiving the roof frame?
We add the windows.
Then the trim.
All the while, several dogs roam around the job site. Thankfully, this one is chained.
Meanwhile, the inside gets insulated.
But look who gets to nail down the roofing! That back repair earlier in the year made this possible.
Apparently I got too close to the edge for someone’s comfort.
The day’s work accomplished, now there’s time for some recreation at the team center.
These are the cooks who go above and beyond to give us three delicious meals a day.
After lunch, we head to the nearby orphanage to visit with the kiddos.
The girls handed out the donated jump ropes.
Day Two on the job…waiting patiently for paint.
This is my favorite picture (unposed).
Jorge Daniel paints the trim.
Jorge Daniel, Jr., and his mom, Margarita, try mudding.
Of course it was a team of mudders who got the job done.
Maybe you can tell which ones.
This man enjoys a hard-earned sit break.
These hard workers too. What would we have done without them?
While some furnishings and provisions are carried in, the family waits in secret.
Another favorite picture. Can you see what the little guy tossed to Mauri?
The dedication. Bailey reads from Philippians in Spanish.
The keys are handed over.
Such a beautiful family and so grateful for all the extras too! The daughter’s name is Cynthia.
This was so cool! Instead of hoarding, the new owner came outside to share what he’d been given.
I’m kinda glad you can’t hear us slaughter the Spanish song “Yo Tengo un Amigo Que Me Ama” at the church service.
A special attachment has formed since the Andersons built their first home in 2007 for Lupe and her family. That’s the beautiful part of making the colonias outside Juarez a regular destination. Building relationships. Though we don’t have much free time, I was able to see all three homes we’ve helped build in previous Thanksgiving trips.
Our team was able to return to see Jasmine with her two sons, Fidencio and Alvieri.
Dusty was quick to scoop Fidencio into his arms. His slight mother carries him around or pushes him in a stroller as he is disabled.
This goes back two years to when we built Jasmine’s home.
You see how her boys have grown since then!
Oh, joy! The people are the best part!
The team gathers for one final picture before heading toward the border.
An e-mail, shared with her permission, from Quinn prior to this trip: “After 20 years I’m letting go of the sweater. It’s heading down to Juarez to keep someone warm. Dad would like that, huh? ;-) ”