Building New Houses in Mexico

Every spring, Mike & Sandy's church sends hundreds of teenagers and their adult overseers to Baja California where they build simple new houses for poor people. These projects are supported by a ministry in San Diego that works with local pastors to identify families and obtain building supplies, and also operates a large "base camp" capable of handling up to 1000 campers. The following pictures start at the church in Danville, show the stop at the Boys and Girls Club in San Diego, and on through the week.

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The Base Camp ("Hacienda") held about 700 campers, who live in "tent cities," separate for boys and girls, and run entirely by bunches of small generators. There was a campfire program every night, and every morning, local school buses came to take the 14 teams out to their work sites. This map shows our camp and the work site area, about 10 miles apart, and the route we took each day. As seen on the map, we were actually never more than about 10 miles from the U.S. border.

Here's the neighborhood where we worked, the family Mike's team would build a house for, and the family's cooking arangements. (These areas have no running water, very little electricity, and out-house "toilets" are the norm.)

The first step was to hand-mix concrete and get busy creating the foundation slab for the new house. By afternoon, the slab was about half done, and part of the team broke off to start framing walls out in the street. (There's no room in the tiny yard.)

The next day framing continued, and soon it was time to raise the walls. The team took a break to visit a (similarly basic) new church just down the street.

At the Base Camp each day, we cleaned up and enjoyed really good food (here's the line for dinner). Sunset was over the mountain (the building sites were on the opposite side of it), and the next morning at 6am, dawn came again, and we were all up and at it for another day.

Back at the work site, the roof plywood went on perfectly, building paper and chicken wire were attached to the outside walls, the first coat of stucco was laid on, the windows and front door were installed, and we were almost done. With tears all a round, we presented a bi-lingual Bible and door keys to the family.

The rains came, and messed with our good mood, as well as our camp ground. But the week was over, so we packed up the tents as best we could, rolled up our sleeping bags, loaded our big San Diego-based buses, and 13 hours later, we were all back in Danville -- job well done, and hope spread to 14 more families.
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