My second biggest adventure

As I mentioned in my introductory blog post, moving to Hong Kong was the most adventurous thing I have ever done. I’m really not a very adventurous person! I think you’d describe me as risk averse ;)

However, the second most adventurous thing I’ve ever done was quite a fun adventure too – I went to Mexico and built a house for a homeless person. Not by myself, I have to add, but with a team of adults and young people from my old church in the UK. There were 6 adults and 14 young people in our group, and we built the house in a week! Here is a picture of Tom and I in front of the finished house:

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The house build was organised by an amazing charity called Amor Ministries, which work on hundreds of these house builds per year. Teams from all over the US (mostly) go down to Mexico, some locations in the US or South Africa, camp out for between 3 days and a week and build a house. To date Amor have built over 17,000 houses.

The great thing about Amor is that they don’t just come in, build a house and leave. They have networks of local pastors in the places that they build who work with the families both before and after they get a house to look after them and build relationships. In order to get on the waiting list for a house, the family must either own the land the house is to be built on, or be paying off a mortgage on it. This way they are invested in the house and not just getting something for nothing. Amor also works in the local communities that they build in, providing basic needs like food and blankets where needed.

I almost didn’t go on the trip. My husband signed up as a leader after an announcement in church that they needed more male leaders and I was invited along too. As I said, I’m not very adventurous and I’m not a particularly physical or outdoorsy person so the invitation to go camping in the middle of nowhere and build a house didn’t really appeal! But I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity of an adventure. In the end the camping wasn’t that bad – you get used to the smell of drop toilets after a while, and the solar showers that we brought along worked really well (there was no electricity or running water). It was lovely to get to know the young people that we went with, and seeing the house going up was really exciting. The family that we were building for were around most of the time too so it was wonderful to see them watching their house being built and then handing over the keys.

Here are some pictures of the build. First of all, laying the (hand-mixed) concrete slab:

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Erecting the walls, which had also been cut and assembled by hand…

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… and putting the roof on…

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The roof was covered in a couple of layers of waterproof membrane and tarred, while the walls were covered in wire, and then covered by paper:

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At this point the door and windows also went in. The final step was covering the walls with two layers of stucco. This was very hard work!

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Can you believe this is me? I was very covered up against the sun!

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The finished house, inside…

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…and out, with the whole team and two of the family members who are now living in the house.

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I credit Amor with getting me into jewellery making as I needed to fundraise for the trip, and my sister-in-law suggested making and selling jewellery as a way of doing that (it was very successful – I raised over £700 just from selling jewellery!). As my way of saying thank you, I now donate 10% of the profits of Little Koo Jewellery to Amor.

If you ever get the opportunity to do something like this, I would seriously recommend it. It’s so rewarding, both in terms of practically doing something for someone else and helping you to grow as a person. What an experience!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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2 thoughts on “My second biggest adventure

  1. Great story……and inspiring since I didn’t know programs like that existed. I’m sure you came back and felt really good. it will be something that you always remember. I am sure it was nice to have a break from all the “technology” in HK as you get to see what poorer people in those remote areas live like. It is really life changing…. =)

    • Yes, it was definitely memorable! There is another charity called Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org) which is much larger and has projects all over the world – they take individual people (or couples or small groups) whereas I think you would need a big group to do an Amor trip. Just a thought!

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