“So Dad this means we don’t have to eat beans any more, right?” a young boy excitedly asked his father. “Well of course we do son, this is Guatemala, and we’ll always eat beans,” the father replied. “Why do you ask?”
“Because,” the boy exclaimed, “now we’re rich!”
A staff member from Constru Casa told us this story about a family who recently received a new house from the organization. We were told this story over breakfast in Antigua, having already completed two or three houses ourselves. However, this story completely changed our entire mindset about building houses for families and the profound impact that we can have on their future.
To be honest, we came to Guatemala to build houses on a purely needs-based mindset. We knew we had a genuine calling from The Lord to go and help those in need. We had done our due diligence on Constru Casa, and we’d seen our fair share of “before and after” pictures of housing projects. We knew how poor the country was. We knew there were countless families who desperately needed our help. We knew this was a land of heavy rains, earthquakes, and volcano eruptions. To us, the process made sense. We stared at pictures of houses being held together by corn stalks, discarded tin, and basically any other material that could somehow create a shelter. We then saw pictures of smiling faces standing in front of a new, sturdy, cinder block house. The process made sense. People need houses, we build them, and we all live happily ever after.
However, after hearing the story of the boy who received a new Constru Casa house, and was immediately convinced that his family was rich, we realized we had only scratched the surface of understanding the process. It then dawned on us that yes, while they did need houses out of natural necessity, it goes much deeper than that. That young boy swelled with pride knowing he now had a house that he could be proud of. We imagined him going to school and excitedly telling all his friends about his new digs, and for the first time ever, inviting them over to play. We realized that this construction of pride meant just as much if not more than the construction of four walls and a roof. We realized that with a new house, a place that could be kept dry and clean and out of the harsh elements, a family could truly begin to take care of each other. With a new house, a family can finally be able to focus on the other basic needs of life such as health and nutrition. So yea, we viewed building houses within such a small scope that we were blown away once we stepped back and realized the profound impact having a safe house can have on a family. There’s not a more humbling feeling than understanding that having a house, something we’ve always taken for granted, can truly, truly change someone’s life.
We went on to build two more houses armed with a better understanding of the great importance of our work. This understanding helped, because there’s no denying that building houses is awfully hard work. There were days when we didn’t want to wake up for work. There were days when our callouses had callouses, and we literally couldn’t bend over and stand back up naturally. There were days when the language barrier or a cold lunch was tough to handle. BUT, then there were days where The Lord reminded us while we were there. There were days when we ate lunch as a part of the family. There were days when we couldn’t pry laughing, playful children off of us if we tried. Then there were days like the one when our parents got to visit and take a tour of several of the houses that we had built. On days such as this, we couldn’t have been happier, and the thought of back pains or callouses couldn’t be farther from our minds.
Working for Constru Casa was the best experience of our lives. We would recommend it to anyone who feels the call to help. Without delving into too many clichés, we certainly believe we received as much from the families that we helped as we gave back. We learned a lot about ourselves, and learned that it takes working as a servant to truly understand why we are here. We plan on coming back as often as possible, and we can’t wait.
"Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'" Matthew 19:21
Ty and Lee New