Volunteers build community one house at a time

Jeanne Ballard (left) from Lake Arlington Baptist Church in Arlington and Peggy Moulden from Lakeside Baptist Church in Dallas set the trusses for the roof of a home in Peñitas. The homebuilding project involved volunteers with Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Buckner International and Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association. (PHOTO/Kalie Lowrie)

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PEÑITAS—Down a road not tracked by Google maps and devoid of street signs, a brand-new purple house sits at the end of the block—built with love for the Lozado family by 25 volunteers with Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas.

wmu valley laurajames300Laura James from Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas works on a homebuilding project in Peñitas involving Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Buckner International and Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association. (PHOTO/Kalie Lowrie)

• See a video of the project here.

Parents Miguel and Julia Lozada and their sons, 14-year-old Hosea and 4-year-old Miguel Jr., are the latest beneficiaries of a partnership between Texas WMU, Buckner International and Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association. It marks the third consecutive year volunteers have built a home in Peñitas, a small colonia west of McAllen.

After school each day, Hosea Lozada arrived at the building site with a look of excitement on his face as he saw the progress made on his new home. He typically grabbed a hammer and began to hang siding or stepped inside to work on mudding the walls of his new room.

His brother, Miguel Jr., sat eating a popsicle, his eyes wide with wonder. He did not understand the language spoken around him. but he knew his new home was being built.

wmu valleybuild400Volunteers raise a wall for a new home for the Lozada family in Peñitas. (PHOTO/Kalie Lowrie)The boys’ mother worked side-by-side with the women each day, and their father contributed hours of labor. Through Buckner Foundation’s Family Hope Center in the Valley, the Lozadas qualified for a new home at no cost to their family.  

The 25 women on the building project varied in age and background. Some arrived only knowing how to hold a hammer; others had extensive building experience. Their love for God and their sense of calling to serve and minister to people in need formed their common bond, Texas WMU leaders noted.

“These women of varying different skill levels work their heart out and give their best, day-in and day-out, hour after hour,” said Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of WMU of Texas.

Chickens roamed the construction site, and the family dog stood watch over daily activities. The first-week team put up walls, set trusses, roofed, installed windows, ran wiring and hung siding around the house. A second team arrived the next week to work the interior as they hung sheetrock, put up insulation, painted, and installed electrical and plumbing fixtures.

wmu valley lozado300Hosea Lozada hangs siding on his family’s new home, built by volunteers with Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Buckner International and Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association. (PHOTO/Kalie Lowrie)“We came to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with this family,” said Lanelle Amann from the Cowboy Church in Smithville. “We can build the house, but if that’s all we do, then we have failed. If we can shine and be Christ to them, that they might come to know him as their personal Savior, that’s what it’s all about.”

After watching the gospel lived out daily for two weeks as their home was built, the Saturday after construction was complete and the house had been dedicated, both Miguel and Julia Lozada committed their lives to Christ. 

Looking out from the front porch of the Lozada’s home, a turquoise house Texas WMU built last year is in view. From the back porch, a blue home—the house volunteers built in 2011— is in plain sight. Where dilapidated mobile homes and deteriorating structures once stood, three families now live in solid permanent houses.

The first year, WMU built a house for a man named Juan, whose son was hospitalized with pneumonia. The family previously had not been able to take him back to their old home because it was not safe for his health.

wmy valley house400With the work on the Lozado’s home almost completed, the project marks the third year volunteers have built homes in the community.Three years later, still grateful to Texas WMU for his family’s home, Juan helped lay the foundation for the Lozada family, just one street over from his house. He also volunteered to help with plumbing the house.

“I can’t help but cry when I think about Juan,” Wisdom-Martin said. “His story three years ago touched our hearts, and now to see him giving back to help us this year is just truly amazing.”

 Volunteers are helping transform Peñitas one house at a time, one life at a time, she noted. Texas WMU already has plans for next year’s building project.

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