I think we would all agree that a home is more than the place where you eat and sleep. Home is a place where you rest, rejuvenate, and grow as a family. Home is a place where you are able to step away from the outside world and be with those you love. Home is a place where you are freely able to celebrate and to mourn. A home is much more than a place to lay your head. It’s a place to belong.
For many people all over the world, however, this vision of home is simply not a reality. In Guatemala, my new friend Juana and her daughter Kayla had not had this vision of home for some time. Eight years ago, Juana’s husband moved to the United States to seek better opportunities for work. Shortly thereafter, Juana’s husband decided to divorce her and marry another woman, leaving Juana and their daughter abandoned. Following this time in her life, Juana has struggled to make ends meet, seeking odd jobs like washing clothes or harvesting in the fields. Juana’s in-law’s allowed her and Kayla to live with them, but the situation was far from ideal. Kayla’s learning disabilities have kept her out of school, and an unstable home situation has not aided in her need for continued development. Despite all of this, Juana trusted that God would provide and take care of her and Kayla.
Teri Lattrell, a missionary who has been a part of building an unbelievable amount of homes in Guatemala, heard about Juana’s situation and knew that she would be a great candidate for a new home. Teri worked with Juana to secure a piece of property and make preparations for a team to construct her and Kayla a new place to live. Knowing that Vista’s construction team would be headed to Guatemala in January, Teri knew that she had the right people for the job.
Upon arriving at the build site, our team was greeted by a square patch of dirt, a few cows, and a smiling Guatemalan foreman named Santiago. My skeptical nature started to kick-in, and I asked myself, “How in the world are we going to turn this pile of bricks and boards into a house in four days?”. Despite the skepticism, I was reminded of a promise given by the writer of Psalm 127: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Our team knew that God would be working through us during our time in Guatemala, and we trusted that the house would be built according to His plan. It was truly incredible to see the progress made on the house each day moving from a foundation to walls, doors, windows, and finally, a roof.
On our final day with Juana and Kayla, the house was completed and dedicated. Our team was able to pray over the house and over Juana and Kayla. Dave Covington, our trip leader, reminded Juana and Kayla that we came to Guatemala to build the home because of the love that God has shown us through Jesus and because of our desire to show that love to them. A festive meal, balloons, and pine needles served as the signs of a celebration for a new home and a new place for Juana and Kayla to belong.
The Guatemala construction trip is a beautiful model of the message that Vista strives to share in Central Texas and throughout the world -- that each and every person is loved, welcomed, and wanted in the Kingdom of God. Each person has a place to belong -- a home -- in the family of God. Sharing this message can happen through many different mediums. Whether it is building a house for a woman and her daughter in Guatemala, feeding the hungry or supporting the poor in Temple, bringing medical care to the sick in Honduras, or loving orphans in Nepal, there is an avenue and opportunity for every person in our church family to love and serve the world.