Today was “house build day”. When we come to Guatemala, we always know which family we’re building a house for. We know their faces and names. We rarely know their story. We also rarely know the behind the scenes work that goes into getting the supplies, the family and the land.
The family we built for has a dad, mom, two daughters and one young son. The second I saw the dad, I knew I was going to like him. He was standing at the end of the road waiting for us. He greeted us and immediately began helping us move the supplies to the work site. We had to walk around corn and strawberry fields to get to the site. Praise the Lord, while it was a couple hundred yards, it was flat. Getting set up to work is always the longest part.
All of the men jumped right in and worked very hard. Most have built a house on a mission trip before. Nick and Ben did a wonderful job directing us on what to do. Hopefully it wasn’t like herding cats. The dad continued to help us as we constructed the house.
I was very surprised when I saw Elizabeth washing one of the little girl’s feet. When I walked over, I saw that she was preparing her feet so that she could paint her nails. What a treat…manicures and pedicures in Guatemala. A true blessing that Elizabeth spent so much time loving on the girls today. A lot of smiles from all of them. What girl wouldn’t want to get a spa treatment!
Rick and the guys put the bunk bed together. Bethel is making the beds in their wheelchair shop. They have holes pre-drilled and seem much easier to put together. Bill’s wife Maureen sent a lot of bedding and goodies for the house. Thank you Maureen!!! More on that later.
The final part of the construction is the painting process. Many years ago, Bethel decided to begin painting the house. It’s a really nice touch as it softens the look of the house. Ben painted the roof and Nick painted from the ground. They made quick work of it and it looked really good. I was surprised to see how little paint ended up on both of them. I would have been green from head to toe if I had done it.
After we ate lunch, we decorated the house. As I mentioned, the Wagner family sent a lot of goodies to decorate the house. It really turned out special. Ben said that Maureen and Bill may have another career as decorators. Earlier in the day, we had the wardrobe delivered. It was a REALLY long walk carrying that thing. We also had thick winter blankets to give to each person as well. After we put the bedding over the mattresses, we began hanging balloons. Tom brought a lot of very cool LED balls that the guys put inside the balloons. It was a very cool effect after all were put up. We laughed because when it’s time to go to bed tonight, those lights are probably going to still be lit up. They may not be very happy with us tonight!!!
We closed the time there with the dedication. Ben did a fantastic job speaking to the family and translating for us. The family was very quiet and reserved, but they each shared some special words of thanks for us. Pastor Juan’s wife Ana spoke next. She shared how she had originally met this family and saw how desperate their need was. They lived in a shack that was made of cornstalks. I’ve spoken before about how cold it can get here at night. My heart continues to break for all the families who live here and suffer the cold. This house sat at an elevation of 7,550 feet. That’s much higher than Denver, Colorado. Ana spoke of how she prayed that a team would build for them. It turns out that there were complications along the way. The grandmother actually owned the land. Bethel does not build unless the family who will live in the house owns the land. About a week ago, the grandmother said she would not give the land to the family unless they paid her for it. When I was told how much she wanted, I was relieved…$225 US Dollars. That is an insurmountable amount of money for a family like this. But, thanks to the very generous donations from people like you, we were able to pay that fee and build the house.
A local official got involved in the process to help get the grandmother to sell. He was there today at the dedication. He spoke as well. He began his speech by saying, “Thank you fellow missionaries for coming to work in Tecpan”. One of the guys later commented on his choice of words, ”fellow missionaries”. He thanked us for wanting to come help the local people, but also to encourage the people to open their hearts to God. He told the family that this house was a miracle and that he hoped they would continue to seek God. It’ not often that we get such support from the local officials.
It truly was a blessing to build this house for the family. I closed our time with them by telling the dad how proud I was of him helping with the building process. I thanked him for being involved with his family and staying with them. So many men not only in Guatemala but America have abandoned their responsibilities for their families. The times get tough and they leave. Not this dad. He has stayed. It was so encouraging to see. I pray he stays strong!
Thank you to everyone who donated to help make this house a reality. Next to the wheelchair distribution, it’s the most expensive project we have. But, it is truly such an important project. That family will sleep in a real bed tonight, off the concrete floor. They will be able to lay warmly under their blankets without a breeze blowing through, protected by four secure walls and a door that locks. We literally could not do it without your help. Thank you!!!