This past Spring Break about 120 local high school students put down the books and picked up their hammers.
Instead of partying on the lake, these teens volunteered with Rolling Hills Christian Church to make the long drive down to Moclovio Rojas, Mexico, where they built nine houses for the town’s residents. For the last 13 years the church’s congregation has reached out to the community east of Tijuana.
“I wanted to do something meaningful,” said Oak Ridge senior Roger Blum, 18.
This was Blum’s third trip to Mexico and this year he served as a senior leader, overseeing the construction of a house. Blum said the memories made in Moclovio Rojas will undoubtedly last longer than those of any other Spring Break adventure.
“In Mexico you’re doing something you’ll never forget,” he explained. “I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
“I’ve never heard of anyone going on the trip and not liking it,” Blum added.
“It’s life-changing,” said Matt Warner, pastor of Rolling Hills’ Student Ministries. “The comment all over Facebook was, ‘Best week of my life.’”
Oak Ridge Senior Bryce Scott, 18, can certainly agree with that sentiment.
“I have more fun (in Mexico) than I would anywhere else,” he said. “The entire time you’re there you can feel God’s presence.”
Scott has also volunteered for the last three years and this year had his own team to manage. They built a three-bedroom home with a loft, about 16 feet by 22 feet total.
By El Dorado Hills’ standards that might not seem like much space; however, Warner said of the families receiving the home, “They’re excited. For them it’s like extreme home makeover.”
It takes about four days to build a house, with the youth volunteers doing the bulk of the work. “Everything but pouring the concrete,” Warner said.
Seeing this gratitude for so little, the students come home with a new perspective and “a new appreciation for their family and their belongings,” said Heather Simons, 27, Rolling Hills’ Student Ministries and Missions coordinator.
The project could not have been possible without the Mexican community’s support and the adult volunteers who organized and watched over all the high school-aged students (freshman to seniors), Warner said. They brought all the supplies they would need to live in a makeshift “tent city” for a week. That included drinking water, 60 pounds of meatballs and 400 slices of bacon.
Since Rolling Hills began its work in Moclovio Rojas the volunteers have built more than 60 homes.
Though they’re working under the hot sun for eight hours a day, Scott said the time goes by fast, adding, “I wish we could stay longer.”