Modenus editors Florence and Sarah were recently invited to join a mission trip to Guatemala to build a house for a family; a family of six living in a one room hut. When the mother was pregnant with her fifth child, her husband left for the United States to work. Initially, he sent back money for his family each month, but after a year the money stopped coming. They have not heard from him since.
Despite their struggles, the family is happy. Although it may seem like they have nothing, they have each other and find so much joy in little things
The leader of the mission team shared with them her ambitious goal—to have the house built in three days. In previous years, the teams had trouble finishing one house in a week, let alone three days. Florence and Sarah had never built anything beyond a birdhouse in their entire life. Needless to say, they did not share the mission leader's confidence.
The team started building on Monday. A concrete foundation block had already been laid by the time they arrived on the site. Armed with hammers, nails, timber, and the help of the construction director, Diego, the little group set out to meet their challenge. The first step was to cut the pieces of timber down to size and carry them across the property to the foundation, all the while dodging small, village children who were pleading for just one more piece of “dulce” (candy).
After only the first day, the house was coming together.
The next day, the team returned with replenished bags of toys and candy to keep the children away from the heavy equipment. It was time to finish the walls of the house. The back side of the house was at most two feet from the neighbor's fence. There was not a lot of room to swing a hammer. Team Modenus took on the challenge and stuffed the backs of their shirts with paper bags to create a buffer between them and the barbed wire that lined the fence. Some nails went in smoothly from just the right angle. Most nails bent and had to be removed. Two hours later, the back was finished and so were our two ladies; but, they still had another layer to go.
Here is an idea of where the two spent an entire Tuesday.
Once the two emerged from the back of the house, they saw that the rest of the walls were up already. It was just the second day and all that was left to do was the roof.
Wednesday was dedication day. The team arrived a couple of hours later than usual; the roof was to be finished by Diego and their help was no longer needed. At 3 o'clock it was time to dedicate the house to the family. The entire village gathered to see the finished home. The family received their house keys and they unlocked their front door for the first time to find a family room with a dinner table and two bedrooms furnished with brand new beds, mattresses, sheets, blankets, and pillows.
The house was finished in two and a half days by a group of thirteen women. On the night of the dedication, it poured; but, the little family was kept dry.
Sarah and Florence described the experience: “We knew that it would be incredible to be able to put a real roof over the head of a family in need but what struck us the most was the emotion when they turned the key. The key being the symbol of ownership and safety and something we here in the US would take for granted. We came to help but realized that we too have a lot to learn. Thank you to our sponsors, especially the team at American Standard for allowing us to have this life changing experience.
All photography by Chasen West Photography for Kandrac & Kole