Day 4 (Tuesday, Aug 1) – More than Just Houses

“Yugo is fundamentally about building relationships, not houses. Building houses just happens to be the way in which we build a lot of those relationships.”

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In our construction meeting on Sunday evening, this statement was one of the first statements out of the mouth of the Yugo representative and this statement has been reiterated time and time again. Yes, Yugo is in the business of building houses, but houses are merely a means to an end. The end is relationships. Relationships that we have the opportunity to build with the family, but more importantly, relationships that the pastors and their respective congregations have the opportunity to build with these families. Because, let’s face, we might have a chance to see these families again in the future. We might even become “Friends” with them on Facebook. But, the true and lasting ministry happens locally. It happens when local churches and local church pastors build lasting relationships with local people for the spread of the Gospel, for discipleship, and for growth in Christ.

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But ultimately all of this pales–in an infinite way–to the most important relationship. Yugo is not fundamentally in the house-building business, but in the Gospel-saving and transforming business.

Today, we had the privilege of seeing a small glimmer of that “business”.

After morning devotions, chapel, and breakfast, we loaded up into the van and trekked out to our job site. Once again, the family was waiting for us and after starting the morning off in prayer, we went to work. The work seemed harder today. Perhaps it was the lack of cloud cover that we had yesterday. Perhaps it was the type of work we were doing. But, that didn’t stop our team from working hard. And at the end of the work day, by God’s grace, we had not only completed all of our Day 2 work, but nearly half of our Day 3 work as well!

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About part way through the morning Pastor Nicolas showed up and greeted all of us. He had a young man with him. He introduced the young man to our foreman, Ricardo, and then to me. The young man took a seat in the shade, leaning against the outhouse. After working in silence for a few minutes, Kayla and I began to ask him a few questions. At first, it was hard to understand him, but after talking with him and then talking with Pastor Nicolas and Ricardo about his situation, I think I have a clearer picture of what was going on.

The young man’s name was Jose Daniel and he is 18-years old. He is from Veracruz (on the other side of Mexico) and has nine other brothers and sisters. His parents had been long enveloped in the world of drugs and had basically left him and his siblings as orphans. Most of them are living in various “casas de hogar”–homes set aside for children whose parents have been deemed unfit to care for them because of drug addiction, alcoholism, etc. Less than two weeks, Jose Daniel told us, both of his parents were killed. It was difficult to discern exactly what he was saying but he used the Spanish phrase “killed by animals”. From what I gathered–they were brutally murdered because of the world they had been enveloped in.

For Jose Daniel, he ended up in Ensenada because he had been promised a job when he arrived. He traveled across the country by hitchhiking and walking, but found there to be no job waiting for him. He had been living on the streets for the past few days and this morning he ran into Pastor Nicolas. And that’s where our paths crossed. Pastor Nicolas talked to him at length, heard his story, took him out to eat, and then brought him over to our job site while he made other arrangements. He worked with us, ate lunch with us, and then Pastor Nicolas took him back to his church and to his home where he was going to give him a bed to sleep in. Ricardo offered to bring him some extra clothing.

I highly doubt any of us will see Jose Daniel again after this week. But as I reflected on the day, it wasn’t the checked-off construction milestones that stood out to me, it was the fact that our team of nine from Olympia, WA had the opportunity to cross paths with a young man in desperate, desperate need. And although we couldn’t offer him much more than our broken Spanish, a ham sandwich, an apple, and a cold bottle of water, we had the privilege of watching and in a small way participating in the Gospel-saving and Gospel-transforming business that Yugo (and the church of Christ everywhere) is all about.

My prayer is that although Jose Daniel didn’t find a job here in Ensenada, perhaps he might find something infinitely more important. My prayer is that he would encounter the risen Christ. My prayer is that Gospel of our King would save him and transform him and transform every single one of his brothers and sisters.

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