Barbara Brockmeier spent a week carrying lumber, pounding nails and helping put stucco on a new home.
Built in four days, the home was for a young couple with 9-month-old twins in one of the more impoverished sections of Juarez, Mexico.
At age 81, it was Brockmeier’s first mission trip.
“My husband Lowell, who is 82, and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” she said. “I would tell other people to get involved. You don’t know what it’s like until you’ve done it. Actually getting out in the field is so important. We wanted to show God’s love to the people in Juarez.”
The Brockmeiers were among 16 people from St. James Church in Clovis who traveled to Juarez from March 24-29 to work with El Paso-based Gateway Mission Training Center on the house-building project.
The Rev. Ben Wright, rector of St. James, said he was the only one of the 16 who had been on a mission trip before — and that was part of his plan.
“Most career missionaries started with a short-term mission trip like this,” Wright said. “If you take people on a short-term mission trip and they see what it’s like for themselves, they give a very powerful witness when they return.”
Wright, who traveled to Honduras about three years ago with his wife Beryl to help a veterinary medicine and public health team, said he plans to go to Hoima, Uganda, this summer to help with the Blessed Mustard Seed Babies Home, where his wife ministered last year.
Brockmeier said the house that she and her husband helped build, along with their son Alan, daughter-in-law Suzanne, Wright, and 11 others ranging in age from 16 to 82, provided a way for them to demonstrate God’s love through action.
“We didn’t speak a lot of Spanish and the family didn’t speak English, but we did a lot of hugging and laughing together during the week,” she recalled.
Egriciedo and Marisela Fernandez and their children, Angel and Paula, were chosen for the new home by their local church because of their need and “also, because they look for people whom they believe will make a difference in their neighborhood,” Brockmeier said.
“The young husband worked in a factory in Juarez and he would work long hours at night, come home and get a few hours’ sleep and then help us during the day with the house — that’s how dedicated and determined they were,” Brockmeier said.
The Mexican family’s overwhelming generosity and visible gratitude left an impression on the mission members.
“The family gave us lunch three of the days we were there and that was not their responsibility. But they wanted to do that for us,” Brockmeier said. “One of the leaders from Gateway told us that even to feed our team of 16 for one day probably cost them a week’s wages.”
The entire experience served as proof, Wright said, that many people who go on short-term mission trips usually learn more and feel more blessed by what happened to them than they ever could have imagined.