Saturday, July 1, 2017

Friday - our last day of work

Es possible!  Two houses in 5 days.  Our First Church of Lombard team worked hand in hand with our Costa Rican friends and the grace of God. It was surreal to see a pile of wood, cement and nails turn into homes for the families of Heiner and Karolay and Dennis and Yesenia, Mercy Home #128 and # 129.  We now feel experienced in framing window and screens.  We finished 2 hours ahead of schedule.
After finishing the houses today there was a dedication service to welcome the families to their new homes. The dedication was attended by all workers, friend and families.  We were moved by heart felt prayers and a song by Laura Gay.  Many children’s faces lit up when they received the gifts we brought to share with them. 
After the dedication we were treated to a fabulous dinner at Maximo’s home.  We were able to visit a family who live in a Mercy Home built 2 years ago by the First Church crew who were here in 2015.  We saw how beautifully it was finished to welcome their new baby.  We are grateful to spend a week making new friends and become closer to those we know. This is truly Agape in action.
Porque sin fe es imposible agradar a Dios.  Because without faith it is impossible to please God.

Margaret McCormick/ Meryl Short
















Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday

It is the end of our fourth day here in Costa Rica and as I am writing this blog, I hear the sounds of laughter from newly strengthened friendships all around me and it makes me smile. That is what happens when you travel to a new country together, eat together, share prayers and smiles, encourage each other and work so hard you can hardly take another step together. We are a team with one mission, to build homes for a family. As the week has progressed, we have had the opportunity to meet the people who are anxiously awaiting the big day tomorrow when they finally get to move into a real home. A home with screens and glass on the windows, a concrete floor, a door that locks and a roof. A roof that will protect their little ones from the pouring rains that often comes in the heat of the afternoons. 
The smiles on the faces of these families show pure joy in their anticipation. Several of them have been working side by side with us each day because they want to help make their own dreams come true. The young children are so happy to see us each day and greet us with high fives and smiles every time we arrive. This is why we are here. This is why the Mercy Home Ministries team does what they do. This is not easy. This is hard. It is hot, it is uncomfortable, we rarely have a bathroom, and we eat on buckets with chickens and puppies around us. They put on metal roofs in the hot sun with nothing to shade them and never, ever complain. These men inspire us all day long. We may speak different languages but somehow we are all able to work together side by side to get these homes built and ready for these families to move in when we dedicate their homes to them.
Each family has selected a verse from the bible which will be painted on a beautifully painted piece of wood that will be hung above their front door. This verse will remind them of God’s love for them and the love of the team from First Church of Lombard who came to help them have a special home to raise their children.
Today the first house has been finished with only the door left to be put in place.  The second house is ready for the roof to be put in place tomorrow morning.  Certainly there have been challenges but there is plenty of laughter and some ingenuity to solve the issues before us.
I had the chance to ride with Maximo today to run errands around Nosara.   It is an amazing experience to spend time with him.  He stopped to show us some of the 40 plus homes Mercy Home Ministries has built in the Nosara area.  Folks are always excited to see him and share stories of their families.  However, more families are in need of a safe, dry and adequate space for their families.  They write letters or have someone write on their behalf to express the need.  He shared the story of a group of students who came to build a house and one of the locals who volunteered to help build asked if he could be considered for a home.  They challenged one of the students to raise the funds to build this hardworking man a home and it looks like it will happen.  Maximo and his entire team are so dedicated to what they do it is inspiring to all of us – to help make a change for one family at a time.
So as we eat our meal tonight we are ready to finish the last hours of work and experience the dedication of these two homes, numbers 128 and 129 for the Mercy Home Ministries team, to see the joy of the parents and children.  We have learned so much from them.


By Stacy and Mark Meyer




















Wednesday

We started our day by watching a group of howler monkeys at our hotel.  There were a number of females with their babies.  Our group was divided into two groups, one stayed at the hotel to finish two panels and paint all the panels for the one house.  The other group went to the site to start to assemble the first house.

Most of us arrived on site for the first time today having spent the last two days at the hotel assembling panels. Arriving on site always puts this trip into perspective. We meet the family and their neighbors and often times we see their current living situation. We realize how little these families have but we also see how much joy they have. They are so appreciative that we are there and quickly join us in assembling their house. Panel by panel we unloaded the truck and panel by panel we started putting the house together. Soon these panels started becoming walls and the walls formed rooms and by lunch we had raised the walls of an entire house. This process is truly amazing and requires teamwork, communication, and of course lots of laughs were had by all as we worked in the hot sun. After a delicious lunch brought to us by the first group back at the hotel, we quickly (well, as quick as we were able) drove over to the second house and unloaded the panels at their house. This site was filled with wide eyed children watching us work, a brand new baby only one week old, and lots of chickens getting in the way.  The family graciously joined in unloading the truck including one little boy who eagerly “helped” us carry panels. We then left this site and returned to the first house to work on the windows and roof. We worked until the weather had other plans, suddenly down pouring rain as we finished up. It was a great way to end a long, hot day, all huddled under an abandoned house next door.  

By: Laura Gay and Julie Schubert









Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday

Taco Tuesday went international today as we celebrated our hard work by enjoying some delicious tacos at a nearby restaurant.

After some of the group enjoyed exploring the beach early in the morning, the group split into two teams. The main group continued to work on the wall panels, while some went on to work on a different task.

A group of four went to one of the sites to work with the local team to lay the foundation.  It was the team's first chance to meet the family, who pitched in to help.  The site was surrounded by the family's children, who were fascinated by all the activity.  They brought great joy to the site.

The work of mixing the concrete, loading it into wheelbarrows, pushing it through the mud, and pouring it into place was arduous.  No one gave up.  The shack that the family currently lives in formed a backdrop to the work...reminding the team of the importance of its efforts.

The group working on the panels powered through all, but the final two panels.  We will finish the final two panels Wednesday morning, since we are waiting on a few more supplies to finish.  After the panels are completed Wednesday morning, they will be moved to the sites.  We have been very grateful for having good weather to complete our work in.  The goal remains to finish two houses this week so that two more families can have decent homes that will keep them safe and dry.

The group is excited to start putting all the different components together tomorrow to create a new house for the homeowner, which they will create into a home.  Some of the work has been hard, but the mission is clear, and the fellowship is strong.


Written by Brianna and Brian












Monday, June 26, 2017

First Day of Work

We all gathered right after breakfast to get our refresher/instructions on putting together the panels right here on the grounds of our lovely hotel.
Our goal is to make today and tomorrow 54 panels in total – half to be painted by us, half to be painted by the new house owner (he will paint those once the house is up).   We split out into 3-4 person groups with each group contributing the number of panels each group was able to make over the course of the day.  We weren’t the quickest off the start but gained speed/efficiency as we went along.  We closed the day with 20 panels done and 34 to go tomorrow.    The weather cooperated with us – no rain but overcast (so sheltered from direct sun effects) and a refreshing breeze every once in a while. 
While others were building panels, Christine and I went with Pastor Carlos and Manuel to help with the foundation on the first house we’ll work on.  On the way there and on the way back, we stopped at the home of the family for whom we will be building the second house.  That family has just been blessed with a new birth approximately a week ago so we were only able to meet the husband, brother, sister-in-law and the four other children who ranged in age from 2 to 6. 
Helping with the foundation consisted of “anchoring” the cement blocks (upon which the panels will be mounted) with our own personally mixed mortar.  After a few hours of that, remaining stuck-on mortar was removed with our trowels and a lot of elbow grease. 
Back at the hotel after sunset, we joined the rest of the group in the pool.  Most of them had been to the beach to enjoy the waves. 
Dinner was out at our local outside pizza parlor “Pepperoni’s.” 

We’re all in high spirits and looking forward to finishing the panels tomorrow. 
Written by Jane Miller











Friday - our last day of work

Es possible!  Two houses in 5 days.  Our First Church of Lombard team worked hand in hand with our Costa Rican friends and the grace of God...