The year, we build with Casas por Cristo. Casas is a fantastic organization, and I learned a lot through our experience this year that will be helpful as I pursue building 100+ houses in Guatemala.
Today, I’ll give you a glimpse into the building process. Our large team split into two smaller teams, and we both completed our houses in 2 1/2 days. The actual construction may have gone fast, but there were other steps before our build that paved the way for our visit.
In order to get a house, the pastor of a family in need must complete an application. Through this process, the pastor and associated church commit to coming around the family in an effort to disciple them and help them with their ongoing needs. The families selected make an average of $60 per week, and they typically live in huts made of cardboard, cornstalks, or bamboo.
The job site is prepared in advance of our arrival. In our case, the church community dug dirt out of the hill in an effort to level the site for the house, and they carried all the wood, stone, concrete, sand, and other building supplies down a huge hill to the job site.
When we arrived at the site, we gathered to meet the family and pray before the fun began. It didn’t take long to set up the cutting station and build the forms for the concrete foundation. Making sure the ground was as level as possible was critical to the next step.
Next we mixed the concrete with two mixers. Each batch of concrete included just the right mixture of sand, stone, concrete, and water. Before lunch on the first day, we had completed the concrete slab. This was a critical step, and we were reminded of the importance of having a firm foundation in our own lives to withstand the storms of life.
Wall construction started on Monday afternoon and rolled into Tuesday. We build the walls on the ground before lifting them up onto the slab. Once the walls were square and attached appropriately to the concrete floor, we began the process of installing the exterior tongue and groove panels.
While the exterior walls were being covered, a few members of our team climbed to the top of the house and began installing the roof. The roof consisted of wooden beams which supported the metal roofing material. By the end of the second day, the roof was installed and the exterior walls were mostly complete.
Wednesday morning, we arrived on site, and we quickly worked on finishing the house. The exterior panels were completed. The front door and windows were installed. The interior walls were covered. The electrical was installed and tested, and the trim work was completed.
This was my favorite part! After completing the house in the morning. Lydia and other ladies from her community cooked us all lunch (chicken, rice, corn tortillas, and a delicious red sauce). Our team sat down at a long makeshift table in front of the house, and we enjoyed the meal before a quick rainstorm interrupted things. When the rain died down, we all gathered in front of the house. Lydia received a Bible and a set of keys for her house. And we nailed a “Casas por Cristo” plate above her front door. After a time of sharing, we laid hands on Lydia’s house and prayed for Lydia, her new home, and her family. Listening to her pastor pray was one of the most moving experiences of the trip. He wept as he prayed aloud.
Missionaries from Casas por Cristo will head back over to Lydia’s house in a few months to see how she and the house are doing. And the pastor will continue to keep an eye on her as well.
Lydia and her family have been living with her father (or father-in-law – I’m unclear on this detail). He tries to help, but his health is failing. His desire is to make sure Lydia and his grandchildren are safe and secure with a roof over their heads.
Lydia has four children. She has three boys and one daughter. Her oldest son, Eddie, is eleven years old. They are a beautiful family.
A house represents security, shelter, and stability. As a result of this new home, Lydia and her kids will have protection from the rain, protection from potential abductors, and a place to rest. A house provides hope and a springboard to sustainability for her family.
We all need a fresh start from time to time. For Lydia, this house provides the fresh start she needs. It’s an opportunity for her to practically experience God’s provision in her life, and it’s a great way to connect her with her community and with us – the team who helped this become a reality in her life. It was such an honor and privilege for our team to be part of this new beginning for Lydia.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’