“Over there, the blue one!” Nohemi bubbled out enthusiastically in Spanish. She was pointing to the new home built for her and her children by the YLM servant event team, which could be seen from a distance perched on the side of a mesa, surrounded by brown desert sand. The home had been finished and a blessing service took place on Thursday. Now on Friday, she was telling Pastor Stephen all about the blessing her family has received, and she had come to the mission to thank God in prayer alongside other families at Iglesia de la Santa Biblia, a mission of YLM, about a mile from her new home. Her family along with others have been a focus of YLM’s care in the Anapra community outside Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico.
On another occasion, a woman in Anapra whose family had been blessed with a YLM home expressed her immense joy and her gratitude to God for the home that had been built. She explained to us, “Before… where I was living and caring for my baby, I would walk out of my door in the morning, look to heaven and cry out to God, ‘I feel like a rat living this way!'” When the committee of Anapra residents at YLM’s nearby mission reached out to her, and when her family was selected to receive a home, she was overjoyed. She knew God had heard her prayers and now she is sharing her joy and hope with others as one of the music leaders and teachers at the mission.
Building Homes, Leading VBS
Throughout the summer months, churches are coming to YLM ready to build homes for similar families in Mexico. Here are a few snapshots!
Faith Lutheran Church, Pierre, South Dakota – May 26-June2
This was the first time Faith Lutheran Church in Pierre has come to YLM and they filled their week with the sounds of hammers and saws and also the sounds of evangelism both in Anapra and in El Paso. Everywhere they went, they were ready to insert some Good News into people’s day, including at an El Paso Chihuahuas baseball where they passed out sports trivia cards that on the back side also included scripture about God’s salvation in Jesus and struck up friendly conversations with new friends.
Trinity Lutheran Church, Lincoln, Nebraska – April 14-21
Our first group in this year’s Easter season, Trinity Lutheran’s team was filled with men and women who have come to YLM every year since 2001 (18 trips!) to help our missions and families in need. This year they spent the week building a home for the Villegas-Perez Family in Anapra, Mexico, just outside Ciudad Juarez.
In the month of March, which for many groups is their spring break season, we were privileged to host groups from the upper mid-west, from Michigan, North Dakota, and Minnesota. The groups built homes for families in Mexico, one of the great needs in our mission communities where families often either do not have homes of their own or we can tell that the existing shelter is dangerously inadequate for the family to live in and be safe in the extreme cold or heat and high winds of our high desert climate.
We are blessed this week with a six-person servant event group from MOST ministries helping on the YLM campus. Today they are renovating building 5 and cleaning up building 3. These are buildings used to house volunteers and missionaries who stay at YLM to serve for months or years at a time.
Today we hear life-changing insights from our guests from Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Ham Lake, MN. Hear about the experiences, motivations, and hopes surrounding their construction of a home in Mexico with YLM.
The winter nights were cold for Juan and Alondra Flores and their two children living in the 10×10 home that they had pieced together with scrap wood and cardboard. Juan is employed at a factory nearby doing his best with his wife to raise a family and build a better future. Now, thanks to the servant event from Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Ham Lake, MN, they can do so in the warmth and safety of a new, modest two-room home.
The team from Family of Christ was able to build the new home in three days and spend extra time on finishing details that included decorative trimming, both exterior and interior paint, and a second door to a future kitchen, which Juan is saving up to build someday.
Family of Christ’s International Mission Partner
In 2016, Family of Christ adopted YLM as its international mission partner. We are working together in the care of our border communities through servant events, distribution of aid, repair of mission buildings in both El Paso and Mexico, and financial support of our ministers. We praise God for them and all of you who are praying for us and walking with us in service to the Lord!
In December, after Christmas, we were again thrilled to host the 52 youths, parents, teachers, and chaperones of Mayer Lutheran High School of Mayer, Minnesota, for the construction of four homes. Not only homes, this wonderfully loving group of youths built friendships and joy-filled memories with the families and neighbors they were serving, working with them on the homes, playing games, reading Bible stories in Spanish, and sharing many smiles and hugs. Here are a few of the photos they took and shared with us during our week together. Thank you, Mayer!
The homes were greatly needed by the four families who were identified by members of YLM’s mission church in Anapra named Iglesia de la Santa Biblia (Church of the Holy Bible). One of the families had been living in a borrowed shelter that had only three walls. They had owned land but were suffering in the winter cold as they attempted to make things work in the temporary space. Many families living in Anapra have moved there seeking jobs in the nearby maquilas (factories) and often need to share lodging with more established families until their hard work has earned them ability to begin building their own homes. Unemployment, accidents, and other circumstances can often leave families in great hardship and even great danger as the harsh summer heat or bitter night-time cold of winter sets upon them. Servant events like the amazing team from Mayer Lutheran High School provide a tremendous help to families and show God’s love.
YLM has hosted home construction servant events since 2001 in addition to the vitally needed medical, VBS, and mission-improvement servant event teams that visit our communities each year.
This week we have special guests! Members of the servant event group from Mayer Lutheran High School of Mayer, Minnesota, share about the motivations and experiences connected to their group’s visit to YLM and Anapra to build homes for four families.
YLMHC welcomed St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Des Peres, MO, to campus the week of July 8. St. Paul’s has been involved with YLMHC since the early 2000s; some members of the intergenerational 2017 team were seasoned pros, while others were new.
The team divided and conquered, completing a house build in Juarez as well as putting in long hours in the on-campus warehouse. The construction crew embodied Psalm 22:31’s promise: “…they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.” Their structure will serve as much-needed additional space for a growing extended family headed by matriarch Yolanda. Yolanda’s granddaughter Dulce and her husband and son will be able to move in just in time for the arrival of a new little blessing: Dulce’s pregnancy reached full-term while the group was there! The 8 – soon to be 9 – of them currently live under one roof, but that didn’t stop them from temporarily housing a neighboring family whose home recently burned to the ground. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, six hundred health kits were readied to be stuffed into backpacks and given to the needy on both sides of the border in a few short weeks.
The Lord’s righteousness was indeed proclaimed through the servant hearts and willing hands of the St. Paul’s group. It wasn’t silenced when they boarded their flight home, either! Their congregation’s generous support of their trip allowed them to leave behind backpacks, school supplies, quilts, books, and more; a shiny red new bicycle replaced Dulce’s brothers’ with its wooden seat and missing locknut; and baby will be coming home from the hospital – to a home whose lintel is adorned with a cross – in a white onesie signed by 15 of his or her brothers and sisters in Christ!