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A Week In Mexico Builds A Home And A Lifetime Of Memories



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Members of Grace Family Church recently spent seven days in Mexico building a home for a single mom with three children.

GFC Senior Pastor Adam Fredericks called the visit — the third for his youth group to Mexico, and his 24th mission trip — “impactful for everyone involved.”

The group departed from Newtown on July 5. Following an unplanned separation into two groups after arriving at LaGuardia Airport, the 16 teens and five adults reunited in San Diego, Calif. From there they climbed into rented vans and made the 90-minute trip to Rosarito, their destination.

GFC again worked with Baja Christian Ministries for the mission. A Christian church in Chino Hills, California, BCM has been serving the poor in the Baja region of Mexico for over 30 years. It has built over 30,000 homes during that time, according to Fredericks.

BCM arranges for a concrete slab to be poured ahead of a group’s arrival, the local pastor said. It also provides a prefab kit, “so everything is cut, and you get contractors to join you on the site, with all of the materials you need,” Fredericks said this week.

Rafaela, the mother for whom the GFC group built a home, cleans homes for a living. She makes the equivalent of US $37 a week, Fredericks said.

“That’s what they’re living on,” he said.

Most families in the city, he said, are living in structures made of pallets and blue tarps.

“To have our kids hear that, and to see what life is like for her and her family, these trips change your perspective on life,” he said. “I love hearing kids have their conversations during these trips. When they’re silent, they’re doing a lot of listening.

“You can tell when lightbulbs are going off and the dots are being connected,” he added. “They realize their privileges, and the blessings that they have, and their responsibility to give back to others.”

Through fundraising efforts, GFC paid the $9,000 cost for the house kit, according to Fredericks.

“That’s for the full house,” he said. “Around here, that’s a home renovation. Again, it just teaches a lesson to each person who participates in these missions.”

The house was very basic, he said. It was essentially one level, with two bedrooms and a living/sitting room on the main floor. A loft was also built into the attic area.

“The house has no bathroom, no kitchen, no running water,” Fredericks said. It is wired for electricity, but does not have any power.

Rafaela has a small cook stove that can be used outdoors. She and her family share a nearby communal bathroom.

Nevertheless, handing the keys to the new home’s front door at the end of the week was a special moment for all involved. A video shared on the church’s Facebook page of the trip shows Rafaela putting her hands on either side of her face the first time she unlocks the door and looks inside her home.

“She was just grateful to have a door that locked, to keep what little they have protected,” Fredericks said. “To hand her the keys at the end of the week, the look on her face was just fantastic.”

While it may be simple, the home is welcoming thanks to soft whites and blues the Newtown group used through the home.

While in Rosarito, the Newtown group also invested in a few things for Rafaela’s new home. They bought a mattress, a few chairs, some pots and pans, and towels, among other items.

“It wasn’t a lot, but we wanted to make it feel more like a home for her and her children,” Fredericks said. “It was just a few things we thought they could use.”

School & Orphanage Visits

While in Mexico, time was also planned for visits to a local school and local orphanage.

Sixteen orphans currently live in the location the GFC visited, according to Fredericks. That number is down from the usual 35 children, he said, “because a lot of their funding was lost during the pandemic. A lot of children were transferred to other locations, which was heartbreaking.

“It was devastating to them, to have to separate these kids,” he said.

The visit to the orphanage may have been even more impactful on the GFC young adults, he said, than anything else that week. The Newtown group presented a week of Vacation Bible School programming and two after-school programs, he said.

“Being with them, playing basketball and soccer with them, just seeing the fact that when we leave, there’s just nobody else there,” Fredericks said.

With 16 orphans and 16 GFC young adults, a plan was created to surprise the children.

“Every kid got $20 to go and pick a gift that they thought would be good,” he said.

The GFC group also bought a 50-inch Smart TV for the directors of the orphanage, a married couple the children in their care call Mom and Dad, according to Fredericks.

“They told us they would be able to do family movie nights, and would also be able to use that for educational programs,” he said, smiling broadly.

The full cost of the trip for Grace Family Church was approximately $17,000, the pastor said. Each participant was initially responsible for $1,700, but through fundraisers including the church’s annual tag sale, its Easter bake sale, a golf tournament, and even a paint-in event, the per-person cost was approximately $600.

Every penny was worth it.

“These trips just change your perspective on life,” Pastor Fredericks said.

He and others are already planning next year’s trip. They are hoping to return to Rosarito, he said.

“I’m grateful for everything we have,” he said. “The littlest things can set us off sometimes, but these trips keep you grounded. Every time.”


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Sixteen young adults and five adults from Grace Family Church spent July 5-12 on a mission trip in the Tijuana region of Mexico, where they built a home for a single mother and her two children. The group also repeatedly visited a local orphanage and presented a week of Vacation Bible School lessons. —photos courtesy Adam Fredericks
Hampton Cobb, on the left, and Samuel Milo work on the roof frame during Grace Family Church’s recent mission trip in Mexico.
With a pop-up tent providing some protection from the sun, Emily Godbout applies paint during a work session.
Andrew Benton, in the photo above, and Angel Andino, below, were also part of the Grace Family Church mission trip last month.
Quinn Velez helps move some plywood.
Grace Family Church members also spent time leading an after school Vacation Bible School during their visit in Mexico.
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