April 16, 2007

€œA Hot and Sunny Day€?
By Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn

“Whew! I’m tired! I need a break,â€? exclaimed six year old Alena DeVaughn as she finished hammering a row of nails set in place for her by her mother. The twenty three other ABC team members echoed that sentiment. By that time it was early afternoon, and the two teams had been working hard for hours under the hot Tijuana sun. We’d already measured and sawn 2x4s, carried lumber and equipment down a steep incline to the work site, hammered, hammered and hammered some more. The walls of one house were in place, and that team was busy “walking upâ€? the roof. Team #2 was still working on the third wall of their home. Blisters started forming, fingers were hammered instead of nails, aches and pains became noticeable, but the houses weren’t finished, so the teams continued working.

What would posses this group to stretch themselves in this way? We ranged in age between six and mid-fifties, an equal number of children and adults, most of us not used to the physical demands of hard labor. We had asked friends and relatives to give us the funds needed to buy the materials to build these houses. We had given up a precious weekend to travel over 100 miles to a different culture, where the language and ways of doing things were outside of our comfort zone. We had given up the convenience of a plugged-in world (no cell phones, no TV, no computers, no instant communication or instant gratification). We had given up showers (a significant sacrifice—every one of us was covered in dirt and sweat after our work).

But in the end, the satisfaction of presenting these two new homes to families who otherwise would not have them far outweighed any sacrifice. We had given ourselves to God, to be used by him. We had assumed the prophetic role of speaking God’s Word into the lives of people from another culture, not with words, but with actions and love. There is nothing more worthwhile.

ABCers have been going to Tijuana to build houses for the poor for over 15 years. It is an inconvenient, tiring, character-stretching trip. But its rewards are great.

This year we started a new suburb. Our site was a brand new development, consisting of a dirt road and one home, built by another Mexican Caravan team a few days before we arrived. Ours were houses #2 & #3 in this area. As we built, several people in the lot next to ours were busy clearing brush on their land, preparing for their new home. To get to San Gregorio we drove outside the city limits, passed a chicken and ostrich farm, wandered up and around a hill. The vista was breathtaking. We were surrounded by mountains, the valley dipped below us and the city stretched out on the horizon. No outhouses had yet been dug or built; there was no electricity, no running water—this new community had a lot of work ahead to become stabilized.

Luz del Carmen received the larger home (12’x16’). She and her husband take care of her elderly father. Their children are grown now. Chuyita and her three children received the smaller home (12’x12’). Chuyita will always remember this day for two reasons. She received her dream, her “big gift,â€? as she put it, this home of her own where she was to put down new roots. And she also got a brand new scar. Mid-afternoon she lost her balance on her bicycle, and fell into a rebar jutting out of the ground, puncturing her thigh. One of the leaders from the Mexico Caravan team took her into town to the clinic, where she was given 12 stitches. Still, after we prayed to bless both families and their newly finished homes, she and Luz were all smiles, expressing their thanks and pleasure in their new place. They’d already formed a bond with the other home owner, determined to carve out a new community together.

The TJ Team thanks everyone who gave and prayed, knowing that we all are the richer for sharing our love and our gifts in this way.