Monday, October 24, 2016

House 5,000 | October 24, 2016

House 5,000 came with much anticipation here in the Dominican Republic. Not only was it going to mark a major milestone in Casas por Cristo's history, but it was also going to be built by an entire group of women for a single mother. As in many patriarchal societies, in the Dominican Republic, construction work isn't typically a woman's role. So when the all ladies build crew pulled up Monday morning to construct Maria and her three children a home, word spread, and the community flocked to witness the sight. Normally in our Dominican location, there are very few onlookers. We do, on the other hand, usually have high community participation, but not this time! On day one, we easily had twenty men just watching us, not trying to help, not trying to step in. They just watched in attempts to figure out what these crazy American women were up to and if they really could rise to the challenge of building a home for Maria in under four days.

From the beginning, the women's team from Northside Christian Church of New Albany knew they were going to have to push and stretch themselves past their normal limits. They would have to hold each other up and press on and into the Lord even after swing 30 on the pesky nail that just wouldn't seem to drive into the wood. And press on they did. It didn't matter that day one was a rainy and muddy mess from Hurricane Matthew. They kept their heads held high and built an incredibly beautiful and sturdy home.

House 5,000 was a momentous triumph in Casas por Cristo's history and also in the lives of the family we built for. Maria, a 46-year-old single mother of three, suffers from very poor health. She has battled cancer and always seems to have one health issue or another. The first time I went to visit Maria, she was actually in the hospital with pneumonia. Her body is still weak from cancer, and she no longer has the ability to work. Her son Henri helps provide money for the family and has sacrificed his own education to do so. The home they were living in was owned by a family member because they barely had enough money to get by.

As is the case with most builds, many of the team members' favorite moments occurred while getting to know the family. After day one, Henri helped make sure no detail was left undone. He took pride in building and helping the team in any way he could. Several other members of Maria's family also rallied around to help provide a home that Maria could finally call her own. Upon reflecting on the week, Nicole, the youngest member of our build team shared the following.

"Building a house was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. But building the house isn't even the best part. The best part for me was when we handed Maria the keys, because it made everything we had done so real and so worth it."

Through it all, Maria and her family saw a God that desperately loves them, heard their cries, and sent a group of all women to help demonstrate that great love. House 5,000 represents so much more than just 5,000 homes that have been built over the years. It represents 5,000 families whose lives have been completely changed in the name of Jesus. It represents 5,000 teams that have sacrificed time, money, and sweat in service of others for the Kingdom. It represents countless years of Casas por Cristo staff that have given up their lives to serve the people of México, Guatemala, and the Dominican.

Thank you for serving alongside Casas por Cristo. Because of your love, 5,000 families' lives have been changed for the Kingdom of God.  
- Story by Allie Crabbs, Dominican Field Coordinator

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