February 15-18, 2019

MMOL President Laurie Van Dyke was able to help build a house in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, for a family with 4 children. This mission project was in conjunction with Amor Ministries, Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, and Palo Cristi Presbyterian Church. This annual trip was close to MMOL founder Jack Hopkins’ heart, and he participated in over 10 builds over the last years of his life. He was probably the oldest participant a few of those years! This year, his legacy was represented by 2 of his kids, 5 of his grandkids, and 6 of his great grandkids.

Day 1, Friday

Nothing gets built on Friday. The team meets, loads up with tools, wheelbarrows, food, and people. After traveling South to Puerto Penasco, some team members stay at a campground adjacent to Playa Bonita, some stay in close-by hotels and condos. Friday evening, different groups ate dinner at different restaurants.

Day 2, Saturday

The work begins today. We met at the campground to have breakfast, coffee, and  prayer to ready us for the day. This build site was only 10 minutes from the campground, so that was really nice. Other years, we’ve been over half an hour away. This site was a really nice one, with many mature trees shading the sandy ground.

Each morning we actually circled for prayer twice. Once at the campground, once at the building site before we got going. At the site, the prayer got translated into Spanish.

Day 2 is site prep day, foundation pouring day, wall building and roofing panel building day. No power tools are used in these builds, so cement for the foundation gets mixed in wheelbarrows by the hardworking “cement-heads,” then wheeled over to the foundation form for tamping and screeding. While all that is being done, another set of workers start sawing 2×4’s and fitting them together to form walls and roofing panels using hammers and nails.

Readying the ground for the foundation. This site needed lots of levelling and tamping.
Parade of stompers
Getting the wood ready for wall construction
Screeding the cement for the foundation


Mixing cement in wheelbarrows is hardcore!

We had lunch at the worksite. We were thankful for sandwiches, chips, and fruit. In addition, the homeowner made us some delicious eggs and ham to stuff inside tortillas. We also supplemented our caloric needs with homemade cookies and brownies from EPC bakers.

At the end of the day, the cement foundation was complete, and roof panels and walls were stacked in a corner ready to put up the next day.

After spending time cleaning up and walking on the beach, we headed to a condo where we had a fabulous spaghetti feast supplied by the Schratz family. Campers went back to a rip-roaring campfire. What a way to end a hard day!

Day 3, Sunday

Day 3 is the long day on these builds. After breakfast, prayer (twice:)), and caravaning to the site, we put up the wall sections, got them plumb and true, slid on the two roof panels, and nailed everything together. The roofing crew climbed up with 6×8 plywood panels, nailed them to the structure below, and put on a membrane with white roofing paint.

But wait! There’s more! We wrapped the walls in bailing wire, then tightened the wire by nailing it to the frame members in a chevron pattern, tightening as we went around the frame-up. We then affixed tar paper over the tight bailing wire with the openings for the windows and doors cut out. On top of the tar paper, we hung chicken wire, again taking efforts to get everything as tight as possible, so that there would be a good surface for applying the stucco.

And still more! Another crew had to screen all the rocks out of the aggregate, so that we had fine sand for the stucco mix. Then the “cement heads” on the mixing crew got back to the wheelbarrows to hand mix the sand, concrete, and water for the first coat of stucco. Finally, we troweled on the first coat of stucco. Here’s some pics:

Putting up the first of the wall panels
Roof panels going on, plus some bailing wire is already on
Roofing membrane being applied
Getting the door installed, chevron-ing the bailing wire, and roofing at the same time!
The roof is almost done and tar paper is getting nailed up on the back wall
Ready for stucco!


The trees were great for shade!


About half-way through the first coat of stucco

We finished a little after 5 pm, went back to our respective camps, cleaned up, and ate a fabulous pulled pork dinner with coleslaw, provided by the Bintz family. We spent a little time after dinner talking about what the trip meant to us. Pastor Jen led us with a reading from Amos. It was nice to hear from people who had done this trip many times before and also from first-timers. Then back to camp, campfire, sleep!!

Day 4, Monday

We broke camp, ate breakfast, drank coffee, prayed, and headed to the work site one last time. Today the only thing left to do was a final coat of roofing paint and a final coat of stucco. Well, we also made a stoop for the door and put up curtains in the windows.

The work team this year was comprised of 37 people ranging in age from 15 months to…well, old. The family we served was very grateful for their new home and the house-warming gifts. We were grateful to be able to help them!