PEÑITAS - Down a road devoid of many street signs, and yet to be tracked by Google maps, stands a brand-new purple house shining at the end of the block. This house now belongs to the Lozada family - Miguel, Julia, Hosea (14) and Miguel, Jr. (4) -built with love by 25 women in Woman's Missionary Union of Texas
The third consecutive year to construct a house in Peñitas, WMU has partnered with Buckner International and the Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association to build a better way of life in this small colonia in South Texas. The home, which cost approximately $22,000 in supplies to build, was hand built by women desiring to spread the love of Christ.
Hosea, the Lozado's 14-year-old freshman, came home from high school each day with a look of excitement on his face as he saw the progress that had been made on his new home. He would grab a hammer and start handing siding or go inside and work on mudding his new room. Their youngest son, Miguel, Jr., sat by one day eating a green popsicle, his eyes wide with wonder. He did not understand the language being spoken around him. He did not understand the work being done. But, he knew that his new home was being built.
Their parents were also involved in each step of the progress, with Julia standing side by side with the women each day lending a helping-hand and Miguel contributing hours of labor. As a low-income family, making ends meet can be difficult for Julia and Miguel, but through Buckner Foundation's Family Hope Center in the Valley, they were able to qualify for a new home at no cost to their family.
The 25 women on the build varied in age and background. Their skill-level ranged from novice to expert, some came only knowing how to hold a hammer, others having vast knowledge of homebuilding. The commonality between the women was a love of the Lord and a calling to serve and minister to those in need.
"These women of varying different skill levels work their heart out and give their best, day in and day out, hour after hour," said Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of WMU of Texas.
Chickens roamed the construction site and the family hound dog stood watch over daily activities. The team for Week One put up walls, set trusses, roofed, installed windows, ran wiring, and placed siding around the house. The second team came in and worked on the interior as they hung sheetrock, put up insulation, painted, installed electrical and plumbing fixtures and more.
"We came to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with this family," said Lanelle Amann, from the Cowboy Church in Smithville, Texas. "We can build the house, but if that's all we do then we have failed. If we can shine and be Christ to them, that they might come to know Him as their personal savior, that's what it's all about."
The Saturday after construction was complete and the house had been dedicated, both Miguel and Julia gave their lives to Christ. Watching the gospel lived out each day for two weeks as their home was being built, the couple realized their need for a savior and now their lives have been changed for eternity.
Looking out from the front porch of the Lozada's home, the turquoise house built by WMU last year is in view, and from the back porch, a blue home is in plain sight - the home they built in 2011. Where once stood dilapidated mobile homes and deteriorating structures, now stand solidly constructed, permanent houses for three families.
The first year, WMU built a house for a man named Juan. His son was very sick with pneumonia and was told that when he was released from the hospital, they would not be able to take him back to their home because it was not safe for his health. WMU of Texas was in town that week, building them a house and when Juan's son was released from the hospital, they were able to move into their new home, safe from the fear of continued sickness for their young son.
Three years later, Juan was still overcome with gratitude for his home built by WMU, and as a way of showing thanks, he helped lay the foundation for the Lozada family just one street over from his own. He also volunteered his time to help with the plumbing of the house, teaching BGCT staff member Pat Ekern, who works in church architecture, the ins-and-outs of laying pipe.
"I can't help but cry when I think about Juan," said Wisdom-Martin. "His story three years ago touched our hearts and now to see him giving back to help us this year is just truly amazing."
The small colonia of Peñitas is being transformed one house at a time, one life at a time, through the love and care of a group of women who are willing to dedicate time, energy and resources to those less fortunate. The need for more homes is great, and WMU of Texas already has plans for next year's build.
For more information about the construction project, including how to get involved next year, contact WMU of Texas at 888-968-6389.