Saturday, June 19, 2010

Depending on God

I'm really terrible at this whole blogging part of this is from the week of June 7...I actually wrote it last week but the boys accidentally tore our wireless out while working on one of their projects outside. :( So here it is:

Stress. I think this is a word that we all deal with on an almost-daily basis. This past semester was probably one of the most stressful times in my life. My advice to you would be not to take 17 hours, teach 2 hours a week, and work all at the same time. I remember that I was in tears just about every week and was just so ready to be done.

We’ve been told as interns that we will at some point come to a place where we need God so desperately, where we think we won’t be able to go on and finish the summer. I really haven’t hit this place yet because I think I’m still ecstatic that I’m done with my spring semester, but part of me hopes that I reach that place. The place where I realize that I need God more than anything else. The place where I don’t think I’m going to make it to the end of the summer unless God carries me the rest of the way.

This past week was our first build without a staff member, and I really think that it went great. We built a single for a young couple with three kids. What was crazy to me was that in the picture I had of the family, Carlos (the youngest) was wrapped in a blanket and laying in his mother’s arms. He’s now almost 3 years old.

On the first or second day we were building, a neighbor came over and began explaining to me how he had been waiting for his house for two years now and he wanted to know when it was going to come.

My mind flashes to many things when I remember this man and his question about when he was going to get the house he was promised. I think about how we complain about when we’re going to get our food at a restaurant because we’ve been waiting twenty minutes and the table next to us got their food before we did. When maintenance is going to come fix our hot water heater because it’s been out for two days.

Can you imagine going up to someone and saying, “Hey, I put in an order for a house two years ago and was just wondering when it’s going to come because my family is hot and my kids have to sleep on the concrete in the dirt that blows in through the cracks in our walls. And everytime it rains our plywood ceiling molds and I hope my family doesn’t get sick from it. And in the winter the cold wind blows through the wooden pallets we put up as walls, and I’m afraid my elderly mother won’t make it.”

Today we went to Starbucks and the guy in the window questioned the Casas logo on the side of Alexis’ truck. He asked if we really went into Juarez to build houses. When Alexis said yes, he responded with, “Are you serious?!”

To those of you reading this, I can tell you that yes, dangerous things happen in Juarez, but it’s not quite what the media makes it out to be. I just wish that teams who are canceling knew this. I think if you came here, you’d be surprised because the most “action” you will probably see is the military stopping cars and searching them or some police driving around town. The scary guys with the guns that they show on the news…those are the good guys.

The places that Casas builds in have been pretty quiet, and I pray that it stays that way. Although Casas has gone from around 400 builds a year to around 150, I still praise God for those families who WILL receive homes this year. God is still glorifying His name even though there aren’t as many houses going up. Maybe it’s even more glorifying because the people of Juarez see Americans coming down to help them even when the news is telling people to stay away from Mexico.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Have you ever stopped and thought about everything you own? House, car, your own bed, good shoes, washer, dryer, refrigerator, and so on. Honestly I don’t really think about these things on a daily basis because they’re things that I’ve grown up around. Although I’ve shared a room with my sister, I’ve always had my own bed. I got my own car when I was fifteen. I can walk to the fridge and get a snack, even when I’m not hungry.

You don’t need to go to a foreign country to see poverty, but being here really wakes me up to the things that are around me when I'm at home. Last week we built for a mom and her husband and one-year-old son Keven. They were living in a one room house with her sister. One full size bed for four people and mold on the plywood that served as the roof is enough to break my heart, not to mention the fact that the house didn’t really belong to them; it wasn’t a place they could call home.

This mom in particular wrote a letter to our team telling us how grateful she was for this house and for the team coming to build it for her. She told us about how her son was her “little miracle” because it took her five years to get pregnant. At the end of the letter she wrote that she was praying for God to multiply what we had already been given, to which my mind automatically responded, “How could I possibly need more than I’ve been given?”

The past couple weeks have been absolutely amazing, but PACKED. We started out helping Alexis (one of the staff members) with her build last Friday. The team she had with her only could bring six or seven people, so we went out and helped. This day was awesome…we poured the slab, stood the walls, did blackboard, almost all the chicken wire and put the roof on and decked it, all in about 8 hours.

The next day (Saturday) we split up and some of us went with Janette and then some interns went with Jason to help lead a team from Cypress church in Houston. Each team built a single. This was the house we built for Keven and his parents.

Sunday night after building we crossed back into El Paso to get ready for our Monday-Thursday build with teams from South Dakota. We stayed at a church called Monte Santo. The pastor owned a dog (maybe part Great Dane?) named Negro who was so thin I just wanted to take him home and fatten him up. There are a TON of stray dogs here, one of which earned the name Zombie Dog because he had almost no fur and red lumps all over his skin (probably mange). The building we stayed in had no AC, which I was actually glad for because it gave me a taste of how the families feel when they go to sleep at night.

I have already met so many great people on this trip. It’s amazing to think that in just the past few weeks I’ve met people from Oklahoma, all over Texas, Michigan, South Dakota, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, and probably more states. This coming week Lisa and I are leading our first build without a staff member, a team from Indiana. I'm nervous, but really excited to meet even more people with a heart for serving God!

So over the past two weeks, I can say that I have:

-conquered my fear of working with electrical
-achieved an awesome farmers tan, which I’m sure will be even more awesome by August
-actually slept through the night a few nights in a row
-gotten to know some amazing people
-fallen in love with the book of Colossians
-realized how desperate I am for God to change me

Please keep the people of Mexico in your prayers this week as the heat becomes life-threatening. It’s supposed to top out at 109 this week and I know that so many families might not make it through this heat.

Miss you all,