St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Milford will be sending 15 parishioners for the eighth year to build a house for an impoverished family in Juarez, Mexico, April 12 to 18.
Conrad Green is one of the group leaders and he has been taking part for the last seven years.
“You see how people live. There are dirt floors in a lot of houses, but not the ones we build,” he said. “It’s nice to see something is happening down there, and we’re a part of it.”
Different male and female parishioners, ages 16 to 60, have different skills and everyone helps out in different ways, from carrying materials to wiring the house, which is on a concrete slab floor. It’s made of stucco with three rooms, a main room and two smaller bedrooms, all measuring a total 450 square feet about 16 feet wide and 20 feet long.
St. Peter’s has been dealing with the Gateway Mission Training Center in El Paso, Texas, which is right across the border from Juarez. The group stays in men’s and women’s dormitories at San Matias Church in Juarez and goes to the job site in vans.
The family for whom the house is being built is chosen based on greatest need from the various parishes in the area at the recommendation of their pastor.
Building the house takes four days. The first day, Monday, the lumber and materials have been delivered to a concrete slab on the job site where the lumber is cut to predetermined size, the framework put up, and plywood hammered on. Tuesday deals with putting in insulation, running wires and setting up chicken wire on which to apply the stucco.
Wednesday is finishing the sheet rock on the inside, finishing the wiring and starting the stucco if there is time. Thursday is spent finishing the stucco and hanging combination light fixtures-fans in each room. The water supply comes from a spigot outside and most people use outhouses.
By noontime Thursday, work is completed and the home dedicated to the family. There is a celebratory dinner Thursday night. Then the group leaves for El Paso Friday morning, spends a day and a night there and flies home Saturday.
“It’s a spiritual thing,” said Richard Hebert, who has been making the trip six years as has his wife, Kathie. “You feel you are doing God’s work, with all preaching aside. You have to be there.”
Kathie Hebert said she likes the fellowship among both the Americans and the Mexicans they are helping.
“I like the camaraderie and fellowship,” she said, “with those who go there and the people we work with there. We don’t speak the same language, but we really get along anyway.”