Life in Guatemala: The first home build

Again, my 6 a.m. alarm jolted me awake. My body was trying to adjust to the complete flop in my schedule, trying being key there. Thankfully though, my heart and mind were filled with spiritual energy to help power me through the days! That and caffiene from Guatemalan coffee. 

Today was our groups first home build and house visit day. The group was split in two and I was on the home build team with Saul, Andy, Penne, and Luke. 

Buzzing with excitement, we all enjoyed another deliciously fresh breakfast at the hotel and were ready to hit the road. We met at the Bethel Ministries vehicles as we had the morning prior to say a prayer and reflect before heading off. I asked Chris if I could read my devotional, inspired by Psalm 20:7 

Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. 

Through trials and pains, He sees all and loves us unfailingly. Earthly things can’t predict our future, and His plan is greater than our own. By fixing our eyes this way, we can experience peace.

Prayer followed, giving thanks and asking for His protection and guidance that day, and our group split up. 

Being on the home build team, Saul drove us to the small Tecpan village where Juan lived. Once at the village, we were greeted by Juan on his custom built (by himself) hand powered bicycle. It was quite the site! Juan was an employee at the Bethel Ministries wheelchair shop. He was also wheelchair bound himself; his mother had polio when he was born. He pedaled away with his hands, as we pursued him in a large truck full of sheet metal and supplies for the build. Turn after turn, the roads got more and more narrow. Winding between cornfields, we followed Juan for nearly a mile, and finally arrived. Juan opened the locked gate for us, and we entered the property carrying our first load of supplies.


The land owner had given a section of the property to Juan to build a home. For the past year, Juan’s home was a home not fit for our dogs. The walls were dried corn stalks tied together, with patches of plastic and cardboard, and a roof consisting of old rusted out tin. His entire home was about 6’x8′. 

After seeing this, I couldn’t wait to start building his home. We unloaded all the supplies, and the Smith’s kiddos entertained the local children. The family who had graciously given Juan land to build had several children, and every kid received a toy, from jump ropes to a soccer ball. While they laughed and played away, the adults focused on Saul’s instructions to begin the home build. Beam by beam, and wall by wall, we began to construct the framework for the house. 

Thankful for Saul’s experience and patience, we worked away. Once the walls and roof were laid, we stopped to rest and enjoy lunch. Everyone gobbled down the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Spanish Doritos and chugged Gatorade. 

Back to work on the home build, it was time to give Juan a locking metal door, a couple windows, and his home some color. While we were doing the finishing touches to the house, Juan hobbled inside, set his crutches aside and walked across the floor on his hands!


He was so happy for this house, for what our hands had built for him, for what God had given him. We gathered around him, and Luke lead the house dedication prayer. For the third time, I was humbled to tears. 

I knew I was right where I needed to be. That we all were here with such purpose, and that God was giving to our souls as we gave to these people. 

May God bless you Juan. Thank you for the opportunity to meet you, to build a home for you, and to pray with you. Thank you for showing me such joy and gratitude for the smallest gestures of kindness. 

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