Mexico Home Building Mission Trip

June 04, 2014

During Easter week Great Northern District Superintendent, the Rev. Dave Samelson joined members of the Ukiah United Methodist Church and the UMC of the Joyful Healer McKinleyville in a home-building mission trip to Tecate, Mexico. The trip was in conjunction with AMOR Ministries which has facilitated such mission trips for over 30 years. 
The 29 participants drove from McKinleyville to Tecate, Mexico, approximately 1,750 miles round trip, and spent one week building a culturally appropriate home for the Delgado-Molin family in Tecate. This family was selected by the local churches in Tecate. Trip participants brought all camping gear, food and tools needed for the week.  They camped in a secure campground outside of Tecate and cooked their meals at camp. Half of the cost of participating in the mission trip went to buy all building materials, which were purchased from local Mexican vendors/suppliers through AMOR, and delivered to the building site. 
The house was built only with hand tools for safety reasons, as well as to show the local people that they do not need expensive power tools to build a home.  The house sits on a 6" thick concrete slab and measures 11' by 22'.  It has no electricity or running water but does have one exterior door and two windows.  The walls are framed construction and covered with stucco.  During the construction, emphasis was placed on relationship building with the family and their neighbors.  Outreach activities included a (vacation) Bible school for local children featuring music, art, snack and the gift of a children’s Spanish Bible. 
The churches selected this particular mission trip for the following reasons:
-        The home that is built is a major contributor to keeping Mexican families together, as well as providing safe, clean and properly constructed living quarters;
-        The stability and safety of the home helps the family to better itself educationally and economically;
-        The trip is a meaningful service opportunity for our local church as it has multiple benefits to both trip participants and the entire church family;
-        It is a short term mission in which the construction can be completed in one week’s time by unskilled laborers;
-        The focus is on building cross-cultural and cross-economical relationships and international understanding; and,
-        It supports the work of the local churches in Mexico.
Seventeen year old participant Julian Hardage-Vergeer stated that this was one of the most powerful experiences of his life.  He noted, “The trip was less about going to a new part of the world and building a house, but more about connecting with people that are different in some visible ways, but who really are so much just like us.  We all share our gifts, gratitude, laughter and smiles.”
Not only does the home-building project change lives in Mexico, it affects participants’ lives in meaningful ways at home.  According to Corrine Byram, a trip participant from Ukiah, “It was amazing how simple and freely love is exchanged---smiles, laughter and touching are the currency.  Our challenge is to practice this loving approach to life everyday with everyone we meet.  It is curious why so many of us have so much love to share, but it is so difficult to do at home.”