By Heather Molina
The day that I first met Tina* and her family is a day that I will not soon forget. It was a horribly windy and dusty day, and as we pulled up in front of Tina’s home we saw a group of children playing in the street, barefoot and happy. All of these kids were Tina’s grandchildren, running up and down the street pulling their plastic bags by a string, and telling me that it was a perfect day to fly a kite. What simple joys, and what a sweet example of what it means to be content – something that in these chaotic times was a perfectly timed reminder.
Tina was gracious and generous from the moment we met her. As we came to know her and her family a little bit more, the bond between them all was very evident. Her husband passed away years ago, but she and her 10 children had to find a way to survive, and despite their circumstances, they found their way to San Quintin. Here they connected with Pastora Maria* and encountered Jesus. Since then, Tina has held fast and trusted that God would always provide for her – a house of her own was beyond what she even prayed for.
When Pastora Maria submitted her application, the condition in which Tina and her family were living put her at the top of the list. Their home was made of wood pallets, attached together and covered with thick plastic, and that’s all. In that one small shelter they had their beds (thin mattresses over boards of wood), their kitchen (a small gas stove), their clothes hung on strings and any other belongings they had tied up in hammocks or stacked on the bed so as to not be left on the dirt floor. Their need was great.
Tina and her family were chosen and the date was set to build them a house – of course, they were thrilled! And then COVID-19. In the blink of an eye, all the plans that everyone had for this year were turned upside down. But again, Tina was so gracious upon hearing the news that her house build would be on hold – she was confident that everything would happen in God’s timing, and indeed it did.
On August 10, 2020, our One Life team pulled up to Tina’s house with buckets of nails, boxes of tools, and a truck of house build materials to unload – the day had finally arrived! There was a special sense of excitement as we unloaded and prepared to begin – for Tina because after all those days of seeing the foundation set and ready, this was finally the day that it would be built upon. And for us as a One Life team, because after so much uncertainty, God provided for these families that were in such desperate need, and we were honestly so excited that this was happening after all.
Arturo got to work, organizing all the needed materials, and delegating jobs to get things started. We were so thankful to see a car pull up and a bunch of youth from the church come ready to help. It was great to see so many young people helping alongside Tina’s two sons and for them to have that experience with their friends. These young men worked hard and fast, and by the first day at noon, the walls were ready to be raised. As the whole crew worked together to raise the walls, Tina and her other daughters gathered around, whispering excitedly and pulling out their phones to record the moment. When we sat down to eat lunch, they marveled at how this morning there was nothing, and suddenly there was a house!
The next day, we got to work fast to try and finish as much as possible before the sun came out. The men got the roof set and worked on covering it with shingle, and the ladies started helping with the painting. There was a moment when I turned and saw Tina just standing with her hands together over her heart, smiling as she saw the bright blue begin to cover her new home. She was so happy.
We had a lot of help with the painting as Tina’s 7 daughters and their kids were all there to help – some of the little guys had the time of their lives learning to move the brush up and down, covering the house and their hands and their faces and everything else in blue. The older girls were a great help, painting all day long, faces spattered in paint, and shining with smiles. The guys finished the roof and started on the inside details, putting in the windows, building a kitchen counter, and placing the door. The house was almost done.
By Wednesday morning, the finishing touches were done and we unloaded the gifts for the inside of the house – mattresses and blankets for their beds, a beautiful hand-made table and chairs, personal items for each one, dishes and groceries and a new stove-top for their kitchen. We tried to keep it a surprise, but as we worked we would occasionally see a child’s face pop up in the window – they could not contain their excitement. Soon everything was set and we were ready to begin the dedication.
The whole extended family gathered around as Tina and family stood in front of the door of their new home. Pastora Maria stood with them and shared some words of encouragement, and more than anything shared her joy to be experiencing this moment with Tina, knowing that it was an answer to her prayers. Emotions started to run high when Tina shared some words of gratitude with her family, her pastor, the ministry, and the group, New Life Church (Duncan, BC), for having given so generously to make this home for her possible. We prayed together to dedicate her home to God, then Pastora Maria handed her the keys. We cheered as she pushed the door open and stepped inside. Tina was overwhelmed as all of her struggles and fears, her hopes and dreams over these past years culminated at this moment, standing inside her new home. The tears came, but a smile was on her face as she took it all in. God had answered her prayers and used you all to do it.
This year turned out so different than what all of us would have planned, and we wish that you could have been here with us, with Tina, to experience this amazing time with her and her family. Your generosity and sacrifice have changed their lives and showed them that Jesus has been with them all along, sustaining them through the most difficult times, bringing them to that moment to shower his love on them.
*Names changed for privacy
You can help families like Tina’s this summer and fall, donate to One Life’s “More Than a Roof” campaign:
$15 buys a bag of cement
$40 buys a door
$100 buys a window
$200 buys 40 2x4s
$8000 provides a complete home