Last November, with the help of a team from 5ive.14, Love & Hope undertook one of our most ambitious projects to date: we built a house!
We have always viewed Love & Hope as a family, and over the years the shape of that family has continued to change. Even when one of our children is sent “home” to their biological family, they remain part of ours. One of those children, Kevin, now lives about 2.5 hours away from our house in San Salvador in a little town called Alegria with his older sister, her husband, and their two young daughters. When Kevin moved in with them, they were living in a tiny two room adobe house with a tin roof. It was a small space for 5 people, and when it rained (which is does half the year in El Salvador) they would get wet. We wanted to help Kevin and his family know the safety, security, and stability of a proper home, so we began looking into the costs associated with building a house and searching for a team who would be willing to help. When our friend Brett heard about what we wanted to do, he jumped in with both feet to assemble a team, raise the money, and organize a trip. And before we knew it, we had already started.
During their trip, Brett and his team kept a daily journal, so I’ll let them tell you the story in their own words. After a long drive across El Salvador and bumpy ride out to the worksite, everyone was ready to start building:
Upon getting to the work site, we met up with our contractor for the build – Nelson – and his two helpers – Christian & Juan Alberto. We didn’t take long to drop our belongings, and dive right into working. They had already built a retaining wall, and started the first few rows of cinder block. We started with digging holes, mixing concrete/mortar, and helping to move materials around. As can be expected, the work itself tended to take a back seat to connecting and building relationships. Aside from connecting with Nelson, Christian, and Juan Alberto, we had opportunity to meet the neighbors who live immediately adjacent to the home we’re building… and then, we finally got to meet the actual people for whom this project was created– Kevin and his sister, Lilly. They looked to be beside themselves. Kevin’s smile out shined the sun.
Even without proper footwear, you can get a lot of work done:
Today, although a little more physically demanding due to less cloud cover (= HOT), was another very successful day. We were able to stick with the system we developed and continue to make very good progress towards completing the walls of Kevin’s new home. On a personal note, I call any day that you unintentionally wear flip flops (don’t ask) to a construction site and return home with both feet intact and undamaged a success…
Finally, it was time for everyone to head back to El Salvador as the work carried on:
We spent the better part of today putting the finishing touches on our portion of the surrounding structure of the home. Cinder-Block walls stacked on top of each other rising to the sky allowed us to complete each layer by being able to really see the whole project for what it is- a home for a family that will be a light for their community and every person they welcome into it moving forward. The work will be completed in the next few weeks and we are each excited to see the finished project, but will never forget this chance to come to an unfamiliar place and leave it knowing that we are now united with our God family here in Christ Jesus.
After the team left, Kevin, his family, and the contractor continued to work on the house. They added the final few layers of block, put on the roof, and poured the concrete floor. The transformation from start to finish is remarkable.
On our last visit out to Kevin’s house, all that was left to do was install the doors and windows. Love & Hope’s vision has always been for our children to someday bless their own families. We never guessed Kevin would have the opportunity to do it so soon. We’re so happy that with the help of the 5ive.14 team, Kevin has helped give his family a home – a family that only a few years ago he didn’t even know existed!
Read the whole story from the 5ive.14 team in their journal. It’s filled with stories of faith, gratitude, love and hope. It also talks about how we all got stuck in an elevator on the first day, features a harrowing story from our day at the beach, and a very generous gift for Love & Hope.