October 22nd, 2012 at 1:47 pm
PENITAS – Seven-year-old Osvaldo ran off the bus after school with a whirlwind of energy. Crossing into his dusty front yard, he stopped short. His mouth dropped open. “What happened here?” he exclaimed.
His life changed. That’s what happened.
In the time he spent at school that day, a team of more than 20 female volunteers with Woman’s Missionary of Texas were doing their nails – constructing Osvaldo’s family a new home one hammer stroke, one beam, one piece of siding at a time. Where a pier and beam foundation stood when Osvaldo left that morning now beamed a framed out house, and women were piecing the roof together and running electrical lines throughout the house.
By the end of the week, the WMU of Texas volunteers nearly finished the home – including all the siding as well as installing much of the electrical work, cabinetry, appliances and sheetrock. The home, which cost $15,000 in supplies paid for by Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions funds, will allow the Salazar family to move out of the pull-behind recreational trailer that currently houses five family members.
For the rest of that first day of work, Osvaldo and his five-year-old brother Daniel remained on the construction site. They looked at the new structure from all sides. They had snacks with the volunteers. They were promised they could help paint if they came back the next day.
When the volunteers packed up and left near dusk, the brothers and their mother spent more than an hour and a half in what will be their new home. The brothers tried to figure out which room would be theirs and where they would put their beds. Their mother Maria pondered where the stove would go and what her kitchen would be like.
“All the people who helped build our house are a blessing from God,” said the boy’s father, Osvaldo. “There are no words for how it feels.”
Many of the team members were moved by the family’s reaction to the first day’s progress. Several of them fought tears as they expressed the joy they felt while seeing the young boys bounce through their future home.
“That was just priceless to see that, to make a difference,” said Ruth Heiner, a member of Berean Bible Fellowship in San Antonio.
As affected as they were by the children’s emotions, the team was even more moved later that week when the family’s patriarch came to Christ.
“It was just so cool to hear he accepted Christ. All the glory to God for making that happen,” said Deirdre LaNoue, a member of Valley Ranch Baptist Church in Coppell.
The next day, Maria, the mother, embraced a relationship with Christ. The older Osvaldo said each person who was part of the home-building effort influenced his and his wife’s decision to become Christians. The way they cared for his family enabled Him to see how God cares for each of them.
“All the people here are Christians,” he said, looking over the construction site. “All these people helped us. They are beautiful people. They are full of the Holy Spirit. They came for free and asked nothing.”
His decision exemplifies why WMU of Texas partners with Buckner International and the Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association to build a home for a family in a colonia, said WMU of Texas Executive Director-Treasurer Sandra Wisdom-Martin. Throughout the week, the team emphasized that the house is simply a tool through which team members can build relationships and share the gospel.
“In WMU of Texas … we believe you ought to leave your heels at home and grab your hammer or whatever God is calling you to do,” Wisdom-Martin said. “We just want you out doing it, sharing the love of God, telling people about Jesus and helping people along the way.”
The construction project serves as an opportunity for volunteers to give of their time and resources as well as to learn a new skill, Wisdom-Martin said. They can take their experience this week in Penitas and consider how they might be able to better minister in their own communities. Christ commands His followers to share the gospel throughout the year.
“We believe that being a Christian is more than just going to church an hour on Sunday,” she said. “We want people to be radically involved in the mission of God. You can’t do that by just sitting in the pew. You have to be outside the walls of the church, being the hands and the feet of Jesus. That’s what these women who are gathered here this week are doing.”
Despite 10-hour days in temperatures reaching triple digits, volunteers agreed they were blessed to be part of the building effort. They enjoyed meeting the Salazar family, their neighbors and the other volunteers on the team. By the end of the week, volunteers felt like they were more than a team; they were a family of faith.
“There’s no greater joy than giving and serving,” LaNoue said. “We sometimes get caught up in our world and just trying to make our lives work and that kind of thing. Anytime we are willing to step out of our comfort zone in order to serve, it’s just hard to describe the reward of that.”
For more information about the construction project, including how to get involved next year, contact WMU of Texas at 888-968-6389.
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