After being delayed at the border, we got stuck in LA Gridlock. We stopped just over the Grapevine for dinner at a great place that had a lot of options. Unfortunately, while we were there the power went out, and all of the restaurants closed down; leaving some of our students without food. The hungry students are handling it like total champs, and those who had food to share have offered it up. I see this as a testimony to our week's theme of "One Another" our students are living out the lessons on humility, encouragement, service, unity and love. You should all be proud.
We're hoping to arrive at church at 11:30 PM. Please be praying for us on this final stretch. It's been an exciting day, but we're all ready to get home!
Ryan Galleher and Kendall Milton continue to publish content. Below you can see a time lapse of one of the houses being built. This is the house built by the Pink Flower team under the direction of our fearless leader: Tim Galleher.
I'm writing to you from the bus on the way from the border. Our team was delayed unexpectantly; I believe we should arrive back to Saratoga Federated closer to 10:30 PM. The students have their cell phones back, so I expect them to be communicating with you, but I will try to update the blog with a more accurate time later.
Yesterday our team completed nine homes, putting at least one layer of stucco on each of the houses. Santa's Elves, also known as the extra-large team who was working on one-half of a double sized house, was redistributed to help the other teams complete their homes early in the afternoon.
As construction was completed, our team led a "key ceremony;" which is a special time for the team and families we're serving. At the key ceremony, our team members present the families with keys to their new home, a quilt made by women in our church, a decorative cross, and if there are children in the family - children's books.
After the keys were handed over, and the tools were cleaned and put back in the trailers, we headed back for camp. Team Cheetah was delayed when they got a flat tire but were able to pull over to the side of the room and safely change the tire.
We started our program time early, hearing from one of the Pastor's who works with AMOR, connecting families in need with teams like ours. It was great to hear about what these houses will mean to the families, and to find out a little bit more about the community we're serving, and the organization we are partnered with.
After hearing from the local Pastor, we resumed our program time with "The Newlywed Game." One of our adult couples celebrated their 26 anniversary yesterday, and we pitted them against a couple who were married last summer. After I decided that the anniversary couple's score would be multipled by the number of years they had been married -- they easily won.
We then watched a video prepeared by Ryan Galleher and Kendall Milton: the daily videos will all be posted online soon. Ryan and Kendall are also working on a summary video that will be shown at church on Mexico Sunday, which is April 23rd. We're hoping that our entire team will be there to share and celebrate what God has done this week.
We did post a video early in the week that some of you may have seen. I have it embedded at the end of this post.
As I said earlier, I'll try to post one more time to let you know when the buses will arrive at the church.
Thank you for your prayers!
It's the morning of day 3, and I am still using my phone as a hotspot on poor cell signal. I know many of you are looking for pictures: during the day I have been posting to the LifeHouseHSM Instagram story, you can follow us there and see the team in action. These pictures are a poor substitute for the excellent videos and photos that Ryan Galleher and Kendall Milton are preparing for all of you, and we are working on getting (some of) them up tonight to share.
Yesterday the crew worked hard, and they all have their walls up. One team, Santa's Elves, made it even farther along: we were planning to build a double house, but we could not figure out how to put a 22x22 foot house on a lot that was smaller than 22 feet. The family still wanted a single, so as you can imagine an extra large team is pretty far along. They began putting up tar paper before we left the site yesterday at 4:30 PM.
The process for the build is roughly:
Many of our teams were able to start typical "Wednesday" jobs yesterday. I have been impressed watching teams with difficult lots rise to the challenge. One team, Team Hot Lips, has all of their building supplies on the road and is then constructing on a foundation that they can only get to by scaling down an 8-foot ladder. Once they're on the pad, there's not much room to work. But every time I visit their site they're working smoothly and have a great attitude. This team was blessed to meet a woman who helped connect our families with AMOR and has invited the team to eat their lunch under her shaded porch with seating for all.
This team is not the only one to experience hospitality, many of the families and neighbors have offered us ice water and various items of food. Because of our delicate stomachs, we have to turn down most consumables no matter how appetizing it looks. We can accept their help in building the house, and it's not unusual for the family to build alongside us, or even to have neighbors stop and help. And we're frequently assembling wall panels in the yards of our families neighbors. It has been inspiring to see how the individuals we meet have been living out our theme for the week, 'One Another' where we're narrowing on Paul's instruction to "seek to do good to one another and to everyone." (1 Thessalonians 5v15).
Last night we were blessed to hear from Gayla Congdon, co-founder of AMOR, who spoke on service and humility. Gayla is always inspiring, and we were particularly blessed to hear that as they are working to buy the property that our camp is located on, they are going to build a giant tool shed named in honor of our friend, Jim Little who passed away earlier this year. Jim loved this trip, and his legacy of service and humility lives on in the hearts and lives of many.
We're about to call together our team and depart, so hopefully, I will be back tonight with pictures. Remember to look for snapshots on our Instagram Story!
-Matt Hall, Director of Youth and Family Ministries
Our goal is to post daily updates for our friends and family back home. Please extend some grace to us as we are busy, and the internet isn't always reliable!
We began our adventure yesterday, traveling from Saratoga to San Diego. This morning our team of 170 crossed the border into Mexico. The team members who flew down to San Diego transferred to vans, several carrying large trailers of luggage and supplies. The rest of the team crossed in our two large buses, filled with luggage underneath. Because we crossed the border with buses this year, we had to unload the buses and walk through secondary. This was a slow process for the students, it took two hours, but there was no major incident. Thank you for holding our border crossing in your prayers!
We quickly arrived at camp around 1:30 PM, ate lunch and then began assembling our home base for the week. As you can imagine a camp for 170 people, means there was a lot of work to do; but many hands create light work.
Parents, you should be very proud of your students. Everyone has been doing a phenomenal job, working hard and encouraging one another. I'm excited to get started tomorrow morning in building homes for nine families. We will be waking up at 6:00 AM, eating breakfast at 6:30 AM and heading for our worksites by 8:00 AM.
Some of the work sites are going to be VERY interesting this year, so please be praying for our ability to finish nine houses and for team safety and unity.
Director of Youth and Family Ministries