While many families enjoyed leisurely vacations during spring break, 265 high school students and team leaders from Rolling Hills Christian Church in El Dorado Hills traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, to build 12 houses for needy families in just one week.
Vista del Lago senior Sofia Bert worked on what was known as house three. She said she enjoyed working with the other students and called giving the keys to the new owners an “amazing” experience.
“First, our whole team held hands and completely surrounded the house and had a personal, silent prayer around the house for the family,” Sofia explained. “It was a surreal moment giving the family their keys because I literally helped build someone a home, something that many of us take for granted, and now they will have sturdy shelter.”
Sofia said she will never forget when a little boy cried from feeling so much gratitude. “His name is Juan Antonio and he started crying and walked around hugging everyone on the worksite multiple times, thanking us,” she said. “It was amazing to see how we changed his life and how moved he was by our work. This has been my fourth year going to Mexico and nothing can describe the full-hearted feeling that surrounds the camp and students.”
Nick Heagy, a senior at Jesuit High School, said it was “astonishing” to see where the people they helped had been living previously. “It made me think that of all of the places I have been in the states; even the rundown houses are better than the houses these people had. They were built out of scraps.”
Nick described the houses the teams built as “simple” and “only took us a few days to build,” yet, he added, “During the key ceremony I began to tear up because I was realizing what we just built and gave to them. We gave them a new beginning, and a house that will last them for a long time. My tears were tears of joy …What a great thing a group of random high school kids can do in just one week of spring break is amazing.”
This is the 17th year Rolling Hills Church has sent a team to build homes in Mexico at Easter time. In total they have built hundreds of homes working together with Baja Christian Ministries. Rolling Hills Church is currently planning to send a team of college-age students to build houses in Mexico this July.