homebuilding

Love Your Neighbor by Anna Cunningham

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Home building season is upon us and we started our first week with a training build to teach our summer interns the ins-and-outs of the construction. Because this is the first build of the season, we chose the family with the most immediate needs. In this case our “family" was an elderly woman, her dogs, hens, and plants. 

She makes cookies and sells them in the market for money. All of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren live in southern Mexico and do not have the funds to visit her very often if at all. Because of this, she relies on help from friends in the community and refers to her dogs as her, “familia.” She has limited mobility in her knees and recently had surgery to regain movement in the fingers in her left hand.

She was living in a quaint apartment in Rosarito for years, but the landlord decided that he didn’t want to rent out that unit anymore and told her she had to leave by mid-April. Through the glory of God she had a lot of support from friends in the community who saw her through this difficult time. A friend she works with in the market told us about her situation, so we decided to build our first house of the season for her. Another friend owned property near where we were building the new house and let her stay there during the 45 day transition. Someone else has been looking after the dogs.

Her friends constructed temporary housing near the new home out of left-over wood, boards, and bricks. Tarps were stretched over the top to create a roof. The space was well-constructed, and she was able to adjust her routine to acclimate to it. But each time we went to see her there was a new leak in the tarp roof. 

The land she bought is in a beautiful, peaceful area out in the hills on the outskirts of town. The owner of the land gave her 200 cinder blocks to use as she wished. Similarly, when we arrived on the first day there was a water tap conveniently located near the build site. She told us that a neighbor had put it in the night before so that we would have water during the build. She also prepared the land by hiring out a man with a machine, as many families do, striking a deal with him to exchange a chicken for his work.

Her community stepped up and helped her every step of the way above and beyond the services we provide. Project Mexico arrived with the gifts we are able to offer, built the house, and secured her living space. Project Mexico survives and thrives by blessings from God in the form of donations, interns willing to give their summers building homes, volunteers who work with us, and the local community that has welcomed us since 1988. 

“Let a friend be with you on every occasion, and let brethren be useful in necessities, for they are begotten for this reason.” (Proverbs 17:19, Orthodox Study Bible)

Glory to God for help from friends! 

Summer 2019 Home Building Registration Open Now

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Hurry Up and Register Today!

Home Building 2019 

Wow! We’re at 50% full for Summer Home Building 2019 and Weeks are filling up quickly!

Time to gather and register your group before all the spots are gone!

Week 1 Thursday, June 6 - 12 (25% full)

Week 2 Tuesday, June 18 - 24 (90% full)


Week 3: Thursday, June 27 - July 3 (80% full)


Week 4: Tuesday, July 9 - 15 (55% full)


Week 5: Thursday, July 18 - 24


PM OCMC‌ Building A Home For Missions ‌week

Week 6: Tuesday, July 30 - August 5 (90% full)


Week 7: Thursday, August 8 - 14 (OPEN)

Building Homes and Relationships by Olivia Neslusan

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As I sit on an old wooden bench, warm Mexican sun beating down on my hair, and the laugher of young boys playing on the soccer field in the distance, I cannot fathom the fact that my time here at the ranch is winding down. This summer has gone by in the blink of an eye, but contrastingly, it feels like I have been here forever. Looking back at this time last year, I was an eager group member dreaming about being accepted into this internship position. One week simply just wasn’t enough for me, and I couldn't wait to apply and spend three months here at this incredible ranch.

I had so many expectations of what I thought this summer would be like based on my past experiences here and what I heard from past interns, but quickly I learned that it is so important when doing mission work similar to this, to have no expectations and have an open mind. The summer was full of laughter and tears, and certainly was exhausting at times. Building a new home every week and having the energy to greet each new team like it was your first is something that is both beautiful and challenging. But more than the build, this place and this summer for me has been about building relationships.

Theodora and I arrived two weeks later than the rest of the young adult interns that would dedicate their summer to leading home building. In my journal on the first day of arrival I wrote about how I was nervous that close relationships and friendships had already formed, and perhaps we wouldn't get to know the other 17 interns as well. This trivial worry quickly faded within the first couple days. It is so beautiful and easy to connect with other young Orthodox Christians. Growing up in the faith and sharing the same values is something that allows us to truly connect on a deeper level, and I know that these will be people I stay in contact with long after this summer is over.

Connecting with the 19 boys here at the orphanage, though, has been by far the most rewarding part of this experience. Boys ranging in age from eight to eighteen live on this ranch, and each of them have their own vibrant and inspiring personalities and stories. Between group activities and home builds, we get the opportunity to spend as much time as we please with them. Despite their backgrounds of neglect, these boys are some of the most loving people I have ever met. They are eager to learn more about you, make you laugh, and if you are lucky, they sometimes share their personal stories about their past.

This summer the ranch was blessed with three new little boys ranging from eight to ten years old. Immediately after arriving here in this new home, the boys were always eager to participate in church and had so many questions about the faith. It was truly something special to see how they transitioned with such grace. It is a challenge, however, especially with these three new little boys, to connect with them without getting too close and allowing them to get too attached. It is so obvious that they need love from the way they run up to almost any female who they are familiar with and cling to them calling each one “Mama.” Although this can be tough at times, it is comforting to know that the family here at the ranch will indeed give them the love and permanency they so desperately need and want.

That is what is so special about this place.

It is a community where everyone is a part of the family that makes up St. Innocent Orphanage and Project Mexico. It is going to be bittersweet to leave this country and its people, but I leave knowing that this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and also knowing that it was not really me who made it, but rather God who called me to be here.


Home Building Registration Opens October 18

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2019 Home Building registration opens Thursday Oct. 18, 2018 at 9 am Pacific Standard.

We're excited to build hope with you next year!

Summer 2019 Dates:

  • June 6 - 12

  • June 18 - 24

  • June 27 - July 3

  • July 9 - 15

  • July 18 - 24

  • July 30 - August 5

  • August 8 - 14

Prayerful Preparation by John Touloupis

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The Lord is my Shepherd
I shall not want 
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me besides the still waters. 
He restores my soul; 
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake. 

I knew I wanted to work on my prayer life as part of my preparation for interning this summer at Project Mexico. During the school year, I get distracted by classes, assignments, and friends, often neglecting my prayer life. I’d stay up late studying or working on side projects and then crash without saying my evening prayers. In the morning, I’d sleep in after a late night before dipping out for class, skipping breakfast and simply grabbing a black coffee to start my day.

So, to prepare, I started at ground zero.

I keep an Orthodox study bible on my desk--thanks to my mom who slipped it in my suitcase when I moved to college. I cracked it open to a bookmarked page and read Psalm 23, one of the most famous Psalms and my personal favorite. 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; 
For you are with me; 
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 

In my previous Westward Bound, I wrote about how excited and scared I was to embark on my internship this summer in Tijuana. While I’m excited about the opportunity to meet new people, spend time in the outdoors away from distractions and to serve others, I’m still scared of the unknown.  But something began to change the more I read Psalm 23.

Whereas previously I hardly prayed, I found myself reading the Psalm once a week. Once a week turn into twice a week. Now, it’s several times a week. A prayer life began to emerge in my life, and as a result, my fears slowly started to fade away. 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; 
My cup runs over. 

As an economics major, I love logical reasoning and thinking analytically through problems. One of the fundamental rules of all economic principles implies that people are rational thinkers. I need facts.

Plans.

Order.

I consider myself a highly organized person who pays close attention to detail to ensure nothing goes wrong. 

And that stresses me out in life.

But I found when I kept reading Psalm 23, my fears and anxiety began to slip away. I found the answers to my stress in scripture. The Lord is my shepherd. He continues to guide me throughout my life with blessings and opportunities I struggle to be thankful for every day. I’m trying to be more thankful and mindful because the Lord has always taken care of me. 

I don’t need to be afraid this summer because my Lord will always be with me.

But my mind still needs more logic and reason, and as I continued to read more scripture, I found more answers. 

In Matthew 13:29-30, Jesus says not to pull the bad weeds from the wheat, “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” 

The weeds represent suffering, pain, and evil while the wheat represents the good. The kingdom of Heaven allows these things to coexist while we are on Earth because we wouldn’t know one without the other. 

Without night, we wouldn’t know the day.

Without heat, we wouldn’t know cold. 

Without fear, we wouldn’t know excitement.

As the final days count down before I leave, I try to let my stress, fear, and anxiety go. My lord will shepherd over me and protect me.

As I prepare, I’ve learned to place all my trust and faith in the lord, because surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. 

Painting Hope

When we think of paint, what comes to mind?

For many, we think about someone, an artist perhaps, sitting comfortably in the process of depicting a colorful picture with vibrant colors or using a specific color to paint a certain room in a house.

But, what do these images have in common?

Both reveal that it is a preference to some people to reveal their own uniqueness through their color choice or what they are composing on a canvas; a method of expression.

That is exactly what Project Mexico reveals through the use of lime whitewash used to finish families’ homes around Tijuana built by our generous volunteers. Through our work with Project Mexico, we bring to light our uniqueness.

The lime wash is not just a color but it is a symbol of hope. Project Mexico is an organization that was built on hope and when we finish a home with lime paint, it tells a story.

A story, experience, and communion with humanity shared by those who worked long hours on the home to provide shelter for a family in need.

Each time we pass by a white, lime-washed home built by volunteers and missionaries through Project Mexico, it instantly uncovers a story of hope and a symbol of love and strength.

It reminds us who we are as an organization and what we stand for.

By Emilia Gimmaka