PENITAS—Mission teams from across the state spent their spring break in the Rio Grande Valley, building homes for families involved with the local Family Hope Center.
“It’s an encouragement to our families and our staff that there are people who are not just actively praying for them, but they are actively raising funds and sacrificing their time to come down for a week,” said Diego Silva, Buckner Domestic Missions team leader.
“They could be at the island on spring break, but they are here. And the mission teams create lasting impacts not only on the families but on themselves.”
Five mission teams scattered across Peñitas, in Hidalgo County. They included groups from University Baptist Church in Clear Lake, Shenandoah Baptist Church in Cedar Park, Valley Ranch Baptist Church in Coppell, Church of Canyon Creek in Austin Pflugerville Community Church in Pflugerville.
Teams worked from dawn to dusk constructing homes for vulnerable families who have earned enough points to qualify them for a house build through the Family Hope Center. Families earn points by volunteering and attending classes offered at the Family Hope Center on job skills, parenting, managing finances and developing strong family relationships.
In addition to building homes, the teams also led economic strengthening classes and a sports camp for children.
“I think it just kind of solidifies or bonds our faith,” said Travis Grindstaff from University Baptist in Clear Lake. “It’s good to take a leap out and be intentional about serving and get away from all the chaos of normal life.”
It marked the second trip for Grindstaff and his family. While he worked on the home construction project, his wife and daughters, ages 11 and 7, helped with the sports camp.
“It’s our calling to serve,” he said. “And we want to teach our daughters to serve and show them that ministry can be universal no matter where we go.”
The construction of a new home is part of helping each family attain its goal of economic self-sufficiency. For Sotera Perez and her family, the new home also offers safety and tranquility.
She and her husband Rafael Vallarta moved to Peñitas five years ago and live in a trailer with their three children. The home is rotting away. The trailer has holes large enough for snakes to come through and during cold days, the family huddles together in one room for warmth.
“It means a lot—so much so that I cannot believe it just yet,” she said, regarding the new house. “When they called and said I was selected, my children did not believe me. They thought I was joking. I could not believe it myself. Here we’re going to be a lot safer, and we won’t have fears, since this house will be very solid structurally.”
She has been involved with the Family Hope Center since moving to Peñitas. Desperate to learn new things, she at first sought out the Hope Center to take the classes. Soon, her husband and children also attended classes and activities at the Hope Center.
In the process, their family grew strong. Her husband stopped drinking. Her children are happier. She learned to be more positive. And together with help from the Family Hope Center, they started a new lawn care business.
“Buckner has helped with everything,” she said. “Buckner cares for my whole family and has helped with any necessity we have had. They are focused on the entire family. Buckner brought something out of me that I didn’t know I had. I was a very negative person. I never thought I could get ahead. They brought skills out of me that I didn’t know I had. They are people caring for people.”