Mr. Contreraz: Imagine, if you will, spending your Thanksgiving in the Andes Mountains building a house with some of the most amazing individuals you have ever had the pleasure to meet. This is how we spent our turkey-eating day in Colombia. We worked with Techo para Colombia, an amazing Colombian organization which is similar to American Habitat for Humanity. Our students have been selling Hot Cheetos and Gatorades after-school for months, raising funds for this project. For many in our group, today’s house building was the apex of our trip to Bogota. Our day began with an early wake up time and breakfast paired with a long bus ride into the mountains surrounding Bogota. They were bleary-eyed, yet cheerful, as we traveled down the long dirt roads. Finally we got to a stopping point as our buses could go no further up the mountain road. We unloaded and hiked up another ten minutes to find a concrete slab and cement squares piled next to the roofing supplies. We had a beautiful prayer as we were wowed by the view from the building site. The majestic Andes truly were breathtaking both literally (the altitude is almost 2 miles above sea-level) and figuratively as we gawked at God’s creations. We then broke into our groups and worked our tails off, building the house in under 6 hours! The cement blocks fit together like a 3-D Jenga game, and before we knew it, we were raising the roof and painting the walls! It was an amazing day where we both witnessed God’s creations around us in the landscape as well as participated in His creation by building this house for a family in need. We capped off the day with an amazing Thanksgiving Feast where we all gave thanks to God and each other for another remarkable day in the “City of Eternal Spring.”
Jose Galvan: My heart bursts with love and gratitude as Edilberto and Oscar welcomed their dream to reality. We knew this day was urgent to us and CASFA, waking up around 5:30, a quick shower, and breakfast, then going on an hour-and-a-half bus ride to complete Edilberto’s dream of having a house. We were separated into four groups: construction, painting, cooking, and planting. I was in construction. I have helped with building garages, however this house was not how I imagined it would be built. Constructing the house reminded me of a puzzle very much with the various sizes and shapes we would have to stack. A couple of hours later, we finished the house. Now what was left was making it pretty. Blue and white was what Heriberto visualized his house to look like, and we fulfilled his wish. After adding the final touches, we saw our masterpiece. Edilberto and Oscar expressed the gratitude that they had when we helped make his dream come true. We were filled with emotion knowing that we all played a part of turning a dream to reality. One of the best ways to celebrate this life achievement was to gather later for a Thanksgiving dinner. We started off with emotional turns of expressing thanks followed by tears and hugs. We gathered, feasted, and celebrated as a family.
Only five days after arriving to my first outside-of-the-country trip, this family has given me one of the best moments of my life.
Edilberto (Left) and Oscar (Right) in front of their first home
Jose Palmas: My experience is also one of kind and I’m very blessed to have this opportunity to help those in need and build a roof over a family’s head so that they have somewhere to sleep and eat. We woke up very early at 5am and took a shower to start off the day with some amazing arepas, hot chocolate, and coffee. As many may know, I am not a fan of coffee and it’s battery-tasting flavor but I’m always excited to try new things 🙂 The day was clearly remarkable and full of impact for all of us. Getting to be part of someone’s home for over 5 hours for them to live their entire life is both fascinating and eye-opening. It’s truly an honor to be part of someone’s life and having an impact for the rest of their days. We drove back into Bogota with tears and pride knowing that we made a change in the world and in society. We then went home to clean off our smelly, sweaty clothes and put on our Thanksgiving outfits and feasted on some delicious turkey and salad, then danced the night away to some traditional salsa, cumbia, and bachata. Sleeping feels a million times better when you know you did something productive in your life.
Video Link: https://youtu.be/N-vrvDi8YLQ