Imagine a house being constructed in two days. Nine youths from the Summerland Baptist Church youth group, recently returned from San Quintin Mexico, where they helped to do just that.
The youths travelled to Mexico along with parents and local contractors to build a house for a single mother with five children.
The initiative was done in partnership with One Life One Chance, a Christian-based charitable organization with missions throughout the world.
Youth pastor Mikel Laurie has experience in this type of activity, this being his 21st trip to Mexico.
“The mission group we work with have all the plans drawn up,” he explained. “Basically you just follow the instructions and put it together like Lego.”
During the construction of the home, some of the youths used power tools for the very first time. It was a hands on learning experience for all of them.
“The first day when everyone was helping to build in the morning, all you could hear were hammers hitting the nails,” said Cory Berekoff, one of the youths involved. “The best part of it for me was seeing our team work together and build the house in two days, quickly putting it up. Also the joy it brought to the family that we were building it for. They had been living in a house made of cardboard and plastic.”
The house was not only built, but furnished and stocked with food as well.
“When we gave the house over to the family the mother commented on a shelf that we had filled with rice and beans,” explained Laurie. “She was so grateful because her thought had been, that she would have a new house but she didn’t know how she was going to feed her family. There were tears as she spoke through translators, thanking us. She also said she recognized the cost and the sacrifice we had made to come.”
This trip to Mexico was not the first for Jensen Kentel.
“The best moment for me was getting to go back and visit the family we built for last year,” she said. “It was an incredible experience to reconnect and to see how they are growing in their faith and their life through the gifts that we gave them.”
One of the highlights for Delaney McKelvey, was a visit to the pre-school.
“I loved seeing their smiles and hearing their laughs,” she said. “Despite their living conditions they are still able to have fun with whatever they have, which was really eye opening for us.”
Sharing this same sentiment was Vayda Poetsch, who said,
“I really enjoyed seeing how happy the kids were with how little they had. They were so happy with the littlest things. Even bringing out a soccer ball and kicking it around, they would just have the time of their lives.”
The Pre-School was the smallest school that McKelvey said she had ever seen. She described it as being a 12 by 12 plywood and cardboard structure that held between 20 and 50 children, depending on the day.
It was very humbling, Kentel said, to see how the moms would give up so much in order to pay for their children to go to school, even if it meant going hungry themselves. She realized this when she was handing out animal crackers and juice to the children.
“I remember bringing some over for the moms to have and they wouldn’t accept it at first, but when they took it you could just see how hungry they were.”
The church and the community helped extensively with fundraising and giving thousands of dollars in donations in order to make this trip possible, Laurie said.
“It’s pretty cool to see a community of adults getting behind these young people, to send them down to Mexico to do something amazing, impacting a family there.”
The lives of these Summerland youths were impacted as well according to Laurie.
“It’s such a profound experience for these young people in their world view, but also in their faith journey,” he said.
If you know a positive story about someone in our community, contact Carla McLeod at email@example.com or contact the Summerland Review newsroom at 250-494-5406.