A team of nine missionary workers from the St. John Lutheran Church in Preeceville left on February 24 to spend a week in Vicente Guerrero, a town situated in the Baja peninsula of Mexico.
Team members were Darwin and Donna Chalupiak, Brian and Barb Melsness, Lynnel and Lois Person, all of Preeceville and Lynne Floyd of Melfort (Lynnel Person's sister), and Rick and Doreen Brooks from Mission, B.C. (sister of Barb Melsness and Lois Person). Each member was responsible for paying for his or her own flight as well as their accommodations.
The purpose of the missionary trip was to build a house for a family in need. This was the third time for some members of St. John Lutheran Church to participate in building a house in the Baja, stated Lynnel Person, one of the missionary group members.
"Through communication with Mission San Quinton Dream Centre, a small mission outreach based in Vicente Guerrero, this was made possible,” he said. "They select the family and the building site is made ready with a cement pad poured and waiting for the team to build the house on when they arrived. The Mission San Quinton Dream Centre provides a foreman to oversee the project. They also provide a trailer full of tools to work with.
"We send the money down in advance to cover the cost of the building materials and paint for the house," said Person. "Because the family is in such need, we were fortunate to have enough funds to purchase beds, mattresses and other furnishings for their new home. In this case a gas stove was purchased along with a table and chairs and a hide-a-bed.
“The house is very small, slightly over 400 square feet with two bedrooms and a kitchen and living area. The cost of building the house was covered by the participating members and the generous support and donations from our church family at St. John Lutheran Church here in Preeceville.
“A family of three generations moved in, consisting of a grandfather and grandmother, with their grown family members and grandchildren. A total of 10 people will live in this very modest house. They graciously accepted the keys to their new house with great joy and thankfulness to God and to their Canadian friends who provided this gift to them.
"Through a translator they told us how thankful they were, although no translation was needed by the looks on their faces when they first opened the door and looked at their new house," he said.
Many of the people in the region work in the fields where large American companies produce much of the produce purchased from Canadian grocery stores all winter long at affordable prices, said Person.
Nine dollars a day is the going rate for a long day in the fields. Although these are very modern corporate farms, much of the work is very labour intensive, involving crops that need to be picked by hand. Driving along the highway one can see huge fields of beautiful crops, such as strawberries, raspberries, vineyards, tomatoes and all kinds of vegetables. Much of the work is seasonal and not steady work, he said.
For many it is a struggle to provide food and shelter for their family and any assistance is much needed and appreciated.
"Our team flew to San Diego and from there we rented a large 15-passenger van and drove down to Vicente Guerrero, about a six-hour drive," said Person.
"The Dream Centre has a very good facility to host groups like our team. They have a men’s and women’s dorm with a well-equipped kitchen and eating and rest areas. The cost to stay at the facility is a modest $25US per day and that includes breakfast and supper which is provided by a local Mexican cook. We prepared our own lunches to take along to the work site which was about a 10 to 15-minute drive away."
"We drove back to San Diego on the Saturday after a busy, but very rewarding week, filled with work and a lot of fun.
“Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive and we all felt very blessed to be a part of giving a little of our time and money, to help a family less fortunate than us," concluded Person.