Building Hope Together

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The sound of women’s laughter sang in harmony with the whirl of their sewing machines. At the end of the day, they would go home with a beautiful quilt top they had created with their own hands. But as wonderful as the new creations were, something much more had taken place. You see, these women pooled their resources to build a small house for a family in Mexico. While they spent time sewing together, they were also building hope in a community far from their own.

There is just something about finding a way to bring people together for a common cause. In our case, my friend, Jan, and I took what we had—expertise and an abundance of fabric stashed away in our closets—and traded it for the money needed for building materials for the house by teaching a class on beginning quilt making. More fabric came from someone who could not join us but wanted to help. And yet another woman came bearing ingredients for a delicious lunch. It was almost like the story of Stone Soup as we brought what we had to stir up something wonderful and satisfying. When they returned home, each woman had a finished quilt top and our little house had $1600 towards making it into a reality.

The next step in the process will be a Prebuild Party where families will come together and partially construct the house. Walls, roof, and floors will be prefabricated in the church parking lot and loaded onto a trailer. All the components will then be transported to a site in Mexico near Ensenada where yet another group of people from both the US and Mexico will build it. By the end of the project, more than a hundred sets of hearts and hands will have been part of creating change.

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For more information about the loft house project. Please check out Hands of Mercy’s website here. Perhaps it’s your turn to build some hope. You can also read more about my experience with the project in these posts:

For Goodness Sake
Hope Under Construction


Here’s something exciting!

Since writing this post yet another group of friends, this time from the Oklahoma City area, have decided to come together to repeat the fun of raising funds. I am so excited to be part of the world coming together for good.


 

Our project was a super simple quilt top method called Jelly Roll Race. I think our tops turned out great. Here are just a few.

 

 

Command [those who are rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

1 Timothy 6:18-19

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Don’t Give Up!

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Ethan showed up at just the right time.

The group of adults sat staring at the sandy haired eight-year-old who barged into their meeting. They had just finished praying with their last words being, “Is there a word from God from anyone?” Little did they know it would be Ethan’s job to deliver it. He told the grown-ups he had a story to tell them.

As he took his seat in the circle, he told the group they would first need some background. He was from Ukraine. Not from THE Ukraine as some say. The correct way was just Ukraine according to the people of his country.  Ethan was completely at ease with the people watching him. He went on boldly giving the description of the parks he played at in his city.  Once he finished setting the stage, he launched into his story. He told the grown-ups listening it was about not giving up.

“One day, I went to the park with my mother and sister. I took my Nerf gun with me to play with. I shot the dart into the air, and then ran to the place I knew it had landed. When I got there, I was surprised it was not where I thought it was. I started to look everywhere for it. I asked my mom and sister if they would help me. We looked and looked until the dart was found. That’s my story about not giving up.”

As quickly as he had arrived, Ethan jumped up and ran from the room. He had spotted his dad through the window, but his simple story had impacted the group who needed the message—Don’t give up.

Two points were evident in the small boy’s story.

One—

Don’t quit when you’re faced with the unexpected. Keep going. There will be reward in sticking with it.

And the other—

Ask for help. The people around us are great assets, providing strength when things get tough.

The two together—perseverance and humility— make a formula for success.

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.

1 Chronicles 15:7

 

 

Hope Under Consruction

We sat on the floor of the newly constructed tiny house eating fried chicken legs. This was the first meal this little home would see. In a collaboration with families from California and a minister in Mexico, a young family would move from their cardboard hut to a house with screens on the windows to keep the flies out and a floor that didn’t turn to mud when it rained. It was an occasion to celebrate, the chicken along with tortillas and fresh salsa—our feast.
The day started early as we pulled up to the dirt lot where the house would be built. In anticipation of the new home that would stand in that location, red geraniums had been planted bring a pop of joy to the otherwise drab landscape.

Once decided where the house would stand, a frenzy of hammering and painting mixed with conversations in broken Spanglish and the laughter that comes with it began. The whole process became the conduit for two cultures to come together. And, as the house went up, so did hope for a better life.

When noontime drew near, more friends and family arrived to witness the ‘house-raising’ and prepare a meal for its workers. The ‘kitchen’ in which the chicken was cooked that day was an open fire in the yard. This was where all the cooking happened for this family, and they were experts in dealing with open flame, creating chicken that was crispy, moist, and delicious. Every bite was savored, leaving nothing but the empty bowl at the end of the meal.

The experience of working side-by-side would change communities both sides of the border. The house, as great a thing as it was, was not the star of the day. Relationships were built with each nail that was hammered. Memories were created, and when looking back, they would be listed as some of the best.

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We have always held to the hope, the belief,the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

Franklin D. Roosevelt


I have included some recipes for your enjoyment just in case you would like to recreate our celebration feast. It was delicious.

Fried Chicken

The fried chicken served on this day was literally just chicken fried in oil over the open flame. No flour dredge. No nothing. But, YES on delicious.

 Not keen on boiling oil over an open fire? ‘Yikes’ is all I have to say!

Simply bake or grill your chicken with a little seasoning for a yummy outcome.

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Pico de Gallo

  •  1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
  • salt to taste

Combine ingredients and chill for an hour.

Flour Tortillas

This a new recipe I tried using a food processor and a tortilla press.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1.  Place all ingredients into food processor. Pulse several times until a soft dough ball is formed.
  2. Remove, cover, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Divide into eight pieces.
  4. Press each piece between parchment paper with tortilla press. Reposition a quarter turn and press again.
  5. Cook over medium heat in lightly oiled skillet about 1 minute each side, or until lightly browned.

Enjoy!

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For more on this great ministry along with videos of house builds and ways you can get involved, see Hands of Mercy website.

For Goodness Sake

 . . . make every effort to add to your faith, goodness. . .

2 Peter 1:5

goodness – the state of being good – pure, moral, conscientious, meritorious, worthy, exemplary, upright, beneficial, having admirable, pleasing qualities


Danny, the leader of the Hands of Mercy building project, teared up as he stood watching his team congratulating the little family on their new home. Handshakes, hugs and comments on the success of the day passed throughout the group. Although dinner was waiting, no one wanted to break the moment.  It had been a good day.

I am so glad I was there to witness this life changing event for a young mother and her children.    At the end of the day, theirs were not the only lives that were altered. A team of twenty individuals had answered the call to do something good and this would have a lasting effect on them as well.  That is the way of things when you put your faith into action by practicing what is good.

The word goodness from the focus verse in 2 Peter, is the Greek word areta which means: moral excellence; a virtuous course of thought, feeling or action. This step of adding goodness to our faith is a strategic one. Now that we have put our faith in God, aligning ourselves with him, Peter says, “Add goodness.”  It makes sense that we would follow God in his ways by choosing to do what he does- do good.  It was his own goodness, after all, that has called us out of a life of “corruption. . .caused by evil desires” and “has given us everything we need for a godly life.” 2 Peter 1:4

Romans 12 gives a Goodness Plan for our lives, calling us to become “a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. . .” by being “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” It gives us a way of seeing things differently by thinking and acting in a way that is good. And in this way, we are “not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

That, my friends, points to a major reason to add goodness to our faith – It overcomes evil. Goodness is something definitely needed when it comes to living a godly life. It also allows us to participate in the divine nature which gives us a deeper knowledge of who God is.

The challenge set before us is to continually choose good in everything we do. We not only will be changed by doing good, but it also has a way of affecting others in the most positive way while bringing attention and glory to the Father. So, for His sake choose goodness.

God’s definition of doing good –

     “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me–put into practice. And the peace of God will be with you.”

Philippians 4:8-9

            ”You are the light of the world…let your light shine among others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify the Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16


Hands of Mercy

            Hands of Mercy, a non-profit based in Redlands, California, whose mission is to strengthen the Body of Christ by discipling families and individuals of all ages to love others in tangible ways through building loft houses. A loft house is prefabricated in church parking lots in the US then assembled in Mexico. Though not luxurious by any definition, a loft house gives some basic protection and shelter from the elements. A loft house is a 12-foot by 12-foot structure with 4 windows, a lockable door and a second story attic loft for sleeping that is reached by interior stairs. The kit-house consists of prefabbed panels made from simple building materials, widely available at most home improvement warehouses: 2x4s, 2x6s, plywood and tar paper roofing. The house has a raised wooden floor, covered with linoleum, built on concrete piers. This speeds construction time by eliminating extra days to pour and cure a cement slab. Work teams can build loft houses on land that would not be suitable for slab construction. For about $4,500.00, these homes exhibit a visible testimony to the love of Jesus to the new home owners and their entire community.

Hands of Mercy Loft House

Hands of Mercy Loft House

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.

We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.

1 John 3:16