Thursday, August 30

Building Homes

Down here in Ensenada, there are many organizations that will build homes for people. In fact, my coworkers tell me that they have dealt with dependency issues...a mentality that if "you won't build me a house, I'll go to the next group who will." This is a mentality that we do NOT want to encourage or deal with.

Therefore, when it comes to building houses, we rely on the local Christian & Missionary Alliance pastors for recommendations, which we always check out beforehand. The people we build houses for are families/individuals who are engaged with the local C&MA churches, are known by the pastors, and have a genuine need.

We built a second home for a family of 14 who were all living in one 2 bedroom home.
We built a home for a widow, her daughter and granddaughter, whose house was a shanty, close to falling down.
We built a home for a couple who are caretakers of their two (very active) grandchildren, whose house was even worse than the above shanty.

Those are just a few of the stories...a few of the families whose lives have been touched by the work and service of the teams who have paid to come demonstrate God's love, in tangible ways.

I have enjoyed being a part of some of the construction. Something about getting your hands dirty and seeing tangible progress makes construction exciting! I have learned that I love spackling and dislike sanding. I enjoy painting and putting up drywall but don't enjoy nailing as much. Personally I have concluded that I would really rather NOT ever build my own home as I would be likely to take shortcuts just to get done. But it's fun to be part of the process for these people.

However, when it comes to building homes, the thing I LOVE the most, and have been personally blessed by, is praying for these homes. Sometimes I have written prayers on the walls (before the drywall goes up) and other times, I've just prayed while working. But I love asking the Lord to bless the home, all who live there and all who visit. I pray that they will know peace, joy, and Truth. I pray that the home will be a home of hospitality, unconditional love, and abounding with forgiveness.

I love knowing that long after the house is completed, moved into, and made into a home, that the prayers are still "living and active," even if the owners are unaware of the prayers or never know the exact English words. God hears the prayers...and that part of the ministry excites me.

Wednesday, August 29

Summer is over

This summer has been crazy, busy, fun, exhausting, good, very good, a learning experience, and worthwhile.

I also write for the Envision blog, which I've tried to update regularly and have probably done a better job at than my own blog.

I recently wrote a weekly synopsis of what we've done and thought I'd share the links here, in case you'd like to read that.

June-July teams
July-August teams
And our very last team

Hope you'll take a chance to read them, see a few pictures, and learn a bit more as what I've been up to. I still plan to share some highlights from the summer but this is a good start.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 14

Working with love

This morning, I was reading my Bible, specifically the book of James, and reflecting on what it says:

"What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and in need of daily food and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace. Be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use it is? Even so, faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself."

The thought that quickly came to my mind today is what use is good works if not accompanied with love and compassion? To have faith is one thing. To have faith and works is another. To have faith and works WITH love at the core, takes service to a whole other level. And really, if your faith is sincerely rooted in Christ, then your works will be an extension of, and filled with, love and compassion...there would be no variance between the latter two options and that is really what the author of James means, I believe.

So all of this eventually lead me to praying that in my works today, from the chores to the house I would work on, that they would be filled with God's love and compassion. Little did I realize that the Lord would test me on this almost immediately after.

This morning was chaotic. Lunch preparations wasn't ready quickly (we set everything out while people are eating breakfast) and really, lunch wasn't even my staff chore to be concerned with. I just made it my concern and felt my stress and frustration level grow quickly! Then by this time, most people were done with breakfast, so I quickly scarfed down mine so that I could do my staff chore, which is overseeing all the visitor's chores. I was annoyed that I had to now eat so quickly while other staff members were leisurely eating their breakfast. Next, my frustration and lack of patience grew as people slowly meandered to their assigned chore or that some responsibilities were being missed altogether which mean that I ended up doing them. I felt growlish and snippy.

Then God opened my "eyes" to see what had just happened. I prayed to show love in my works and yet for the entire hour of breakfast and chores, I had done everything BUT show love and compassion. Funny how that happens, isn't it? I undeniably felt very humbled and quickly told the Lord how much more work needs to be down in my heart, how much more I need to be softened, how much more I need to know His mercy and love and then offer that to others, how I can't just give love and compassion when it's easy and feels good but also when it's hard and sacrificial.

Wednesday, August 1


I heard a story today...from a new friend who is a natural storyteller.
As she wove her story, about her own life, I was drawn in and captivated.
I shared in her joys and sorrows, in her journey of faith.
Tears filled my eyes and my heart was tugged at what she shared about her history.

Her story has brought to my mind the tugs of my heart.
The same tugs I've had since some of my younger childhood days.
Tugs that have remained, been challenged, and strengthened, year after year.
Tugs that are not presently part of my life.

On some days, I wait patiently, trusting, and content.
On other days, I yearn, struggle, and ache with longing for these dreams to come to pass.
When? When will it be my turn?
Will these dreams ever come to be?