Group builds house in four days
Corbett resident Barry Smith, and his son, Scott, are two of 16 people from Columbia Ridge Community Church who recently returned from a mission trip in Tijuana, Mexico.
For them, the trip was a life-changing experience.
'It's very sad to see a lot of stuff down there,' Barry said. 'We take so much for granted here.'
The group, which worked with Amor Ministries to set up the trip, left Thursday, June 29, and caravanned through California to Tijuana.
Members of the group held a number of fundraisers - from preparing a Mother's Day Breakfast to selling oil change gift cards donated by Gresham Ford - to pay their own way.
Although the group had a few hours to play on the beach in La Jolla, Calif., before crossing the border into Mexico, the trip was not a luxurious one.
Members of the group cooked their own food and slept in tents in a field. They had no electricity, and only a couple of worn out portable toilets and a daylight shower.
It was the 100-degree heat that proved to be the biggest challenge.
Despite the sweltering temperatures, tank tops were forbidden out of respect for the culture of the local people.
The first day of work was the most physically challenging, and a few people suffered minor heat exhaustion, but the volunteers quickly adjusted to the physical labor, Barry said.
'Everyone did really well,' he said. 'The attitudes stayed positive.'
The group brought only hand tools and purchased the rest of their supplies in Mexico to help support the local economy.
Although he is humble about his contributions, Barry's experience as a project manager for Konell Construction Co. in Sandy was valuable to the team, said his wife, Michelle Smith.
'They worked so hard,' Michelle said. 'It was all about helping families that had less than them.'
The group did everything by hand, including mixing the concrete to build a foundation for the house and putting up the walls.
'I'll always remember … being amazed at what we did together in four days as 16 individuals,' Barry said.
In four days, the group built a home for a single mother, her children and some of their extended family. The family has no real income to speak of and barely enough food to eat, Barry said.
The meager structure, which is less than 1,000 square feet, has two 11-by-11-foot bedrooms and will be home to eight people.
Although the home may not look like much when compared to those found in the United States, Barry said it was appreciated.
'For this lady, it changed her world,' Barry said. 'The emotion from her was so genuine and sincere.'
For Barry, the best part of the trip was the ability to make a difference in someone else's life.
'It's just nice to do something for somebody who really appreciated it,' Barry said.
'Overall, it was just a really amazing experience,' said Scott, who will be a junior at Corbett High School in the fall. 'I didn't really know what to expect, but it turned out pretty awesome.'