Helping to make a difference in Jurez

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By Special to the Monitor

The House of Hope Women recently returned from their 22nd trip to Jurez, Chihuahua, Mexico, after completing the latest house-building project. The chosen family, a single mother, Jessinia, with two her boys Christian, 5, and Kevin, 7, were delighted with the three days of activity in their backyard.

This year marked the fourth year that the House of Hope Women, which includes women from many Los Alamos churches, made the trip into the Mexican colonias. The Rev. Dan Klooster, director of Gateway Mission Training and Conference Center in El Paso, was the build leader, and his wife Kathy joined on her first build.

The house was built from the ground up starting with nothing at the site but a concrete pad. The House of Hope women funded the purchase of materials in Mexico, which were delivered to the site, thus aiding the Mexican economy. The basic house was completed in three days with finishing touches such as painting walls, adding glass to the windows, etc. left for the family to complete with their preferences. The House of Hope Women had a special treat this year by being invited to attend the anniversary celebration for the Rev. Federico Zuniga, Rector of San. Mathias, which was the church and compound that builders resided in during the project. Padre Zuiga was celebrating his 20th year of ministry in Jurez.

The group attended the evening church service, celebrated by the Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Mexico (encompassing six northern Mexican states), and then went to the fiesta in the Parish Hall. This was a very special honor bestowed to the group.

The House of Hope Women had four new members this year. Work proceeded on schedule each day and time was shared during breaks, lunch, dinner and devotions for a full day. The usual Mexican crew was with the group.

A house-blessing ceremony was held for the family. The mother, who works at a factory, was granted some time off work to be there for the ceremony. As the group gathered in the house for the blessing, all were surprised when Padre Zuiga and the Bishop both arrived for the blessing. The Bishop spoke the blessing and the newest members of the team presented the family with the keys to their new home.

In addition to building the house, the House of Hope women collected household goods and clothing during the year, and presented all to the family along with a couch, chair and bunk bed set that had been purchased the day before at the open-air market.

The focus of these house-building trips is to have a servant’s heart and a learner’s mind as participants seek to become “Las Manos de Dios,” the hands of God, ministering in a life-changing way to the most pressing needs of some of the poorest of Mexico’s poor. For the last year, the House of Hope Women, and the Los Alamos Piecemakers Quilt Guild, has supplied the “Mujeres con Pasin,” a quilting ministry at San Mathias that teaches local women the skill of quilting and now of dressmaking, with needed supplies.

The House of Hope Women invites anyone who wants to experience this adventure to join them next year during the Columbus Day holiday.