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The Ultimate Reward
By Stephanie Aboutar

As we crossed the Mexican/American border into Mexico, I look around and see the significant differences between America and Mexico. I saw a couple of gas stations, a Wal-Mart, and many MANY houses. I did not see a McDonald’s or 24 hour Walgreens at every corner. But, what I saw changed my life! As I got out of the car into St. Innocent’s Orphanage, I looked around and saw 4 dogs, 2 cats, and about two dozen boys. I also saw the other church parishioners that were there to help us build 6 houses for 6 families. Six families that would have a roof to live under. How amazing it was that these Christians came together to help for this wonderful cause—an act of kindness for a simple roof for these families.

The first day was introductions day. We met with the orphanage boys, with the other churches and we took a tour around the orphanage. To see the smiles on the boys faces was inspiring. I realized that although these boys had nothing, in terms of material items, they had everything. They were happy, content and most of all thankful for what the Lord has given them. Just to have that—was priceless!

When I woke up in the morning, I was ready to shower. But unfortunately, they only had cold running water, so I skipped my shower. This made me realize how much we take the simple things, like hot water, for granted. This showed me how fortunate and blessed I am for what God has given me.

We started out on our hour long car ride to the building site. The building site was a secluded area with some shade and lots of materials. There was a rectangular shaped hole in the ground. It was probably half the size of my bedroom. That shocked me. Imagine living in a 8’ by 15’ house. I realized how fortunate we are living in the U.S.

Then we began the hard work! We started building by making cement. This was physical labor. It was super tough mixing it. The ground had to be perfectly flat so the family we were building for (Moises and Maria) would not stub their toes on anything. Moises, the man of the household, came by almost everyday to help with his house. After a lot of physical labor, we headed home and fell asleep in the car. How tired we were after all that hard work. But we knew it was going to be worth it to give a family a house. After the first day of heavy physical labor, I knew I was going to sleep like a rock that night. Before I fell asleep, I realized how important it was to build that strong foundation for the house. It made me realize how important it was to build a strong foundation in our spiritual lives. It was tedious work, mixing the cement and laying the foundation. Just as I am sometimes too tired to read the bible, pray, go to church, or help those in need. But laying that foundation is so important for the great rewards to come.

On the second day of work, we built the frames of the house. Of course, everything had to be perfect again, otherwise the house could have holes in it or be colder than it should because of cracks. Again, as I fell asleep that night, I thought about putting up the frames of the house. As I thought about my spiritual life, I thought about how important it was to put a solid structure in place so that I may be the best Christian possible. I thought about how important it was to continue reading the bible, praying, and going to church so that my spiritual walls can be strong.

We realized on the second day that we made an error on calculating the dimensions of the house. It was a few inches shorter on one side than originally planned. We wanted to give the family our best work, so we worked hard to correct the error. We all make mistakes in our lives, even in our spiritual lives. But as long as we realize our mistakes, confess them, and strive to work hard, we will become better Christians.

When we got home, we spent some time with the boys, and sang some music around the bonfire. What fun we had! Spending time with these boys listening to music and laughing was more fun to me than spending a large amount of money to see a concert in the U.S.

When the third day came around, we were doing the roof, the inside of the house, and chicken wire. The inside of the house had 2 rooms. That’s it. The chicken wire was hard and hurt our hands. Chicken wire is something that we had to nail to the house in order to put stucco on the house. Stucco (which we did the 4th and 5th day) is the outside coat of the house. This is like the brick or the plaster surrounding your whole house. We also put in bird stoppers so birds wouldn’t make there nests in the corner of the houses. Again, I fell asleep that night thinking about how much we accomplished that day to ensure the house was well protected and strong. It made me realize that we have to continue to strengthen our spiritual lives and protect ourselves from outside distractions.

After five days of hard work, we were finally finished. Seeing the look on Moises’s and Maria’s face when we were finished, made me smile. Moises had tears in his eyes, but was trying to hide it, and Maria was speechless. Building these houses made the lives of six families change. It blessed them beyond what I can write here in words. It made a family—a family.

This trip really showed me how much I really DO have. Yes, most of us have material luxuries that are greater than those of Moises and Maria. But, God has really blessed me throughout my WHOLE life with not only material blessings, but also the blessings that are priceless—like my family and spiritual values. Taking this trip and helping others has really influenced my spirituality. Building a house was hard, but it made realize how hard I have to work to continue to build my Christian faith. And just like the rewards that these six families received from having a home to call their own, when we continue to build our spirituality, we can reap the ultimate reward in heaven.

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