I can’t believe I forgot to put the name of the organization we did our work in Mexico with (first post is back HERE).

It is called Families Helping Families (HERE is their site).

Oh boy I can’t say enough good about it.  These guys (who I wish I got a picture of) decided to branch out when they were in the Rocky Point area on vacation years ago.  They met families who really needed help.  They realized they could DO something for them.

So they did.

It started small and has grown into this organization doing all kinds of good.  I’m pretty sure our group was the biggest one yet. People just find out about it through word of mouth and then they go and get hooked.  Many families keep going year after year (we’d love to go again).

I just love that it is a whole FAMILY thing.  We could bring all our kids there.  And they could work hard.  And we could do it all together.

I just loved that.

Here’s some footage of what we did on DAY 2:

We continued on the cement block laying.

By this time we were getting a little better at it (it’s harder than it looks!)

This little level tool became our best friend (along with a trowel handle to knock the block into position after you set it on the cement).

Our team leader even let me and my new friend Anna do a corner (which sets the height and pattern for the whole row on both sides of it).

We were pretty proud of our work 🙂

When you got to the tenth row of block, you get a beam cut to be the “header” for the future window and set it into the brick (with nails).
Then you build on top of it like this:

That will come out later, but is used to hold things in place during the building process.

This is how our teenagers each felt about this part:


I loved looking around and seeing all the progress.

We stood on these things to be able to reach.

Lu and her friend were as content as could be in their little “spot.”

I don’t know what that little room will be in the future, but it sure made a great home for them for a few days!

In the meantime, Claire found a very relaxing place to hang since she couldn’t be up on the scaffolding:

Yep, right in the dirt next to the latrines.


She also helped rescue a new little friend from a hole they dug too deep:

In the down time when there was no more room on the scaffolding Max and Elle made some new friends too.

After the twelfth row of block you do another batch of “slurry” to hold in the rebar and all that jazz:

On that second day a guy came to the job site and sold awesome tacos for lunch.

Then it was back to work finishing the walls on the fourth house that we didn’t start on until this second day.

Grace was super excited we happened to be twins.

We worked our little hearts out and were so grateful to be able to watch the gorgeous sunset on another hard working day.
(We stayed in a hotel about 15 minutes from the job site.)

DAY 3  roofing

By the third day we were ready to get those roofs on.

First we put boards in place on the top of each wall, measuring and drilling holes accordingly to fit where the conduit and rebar came out of the blocks.

See that board there with the bolts coming out of it?

…and how they’re working on one over there too?

Lucy helped a little, colored a little, and got dirty a lot.
This is how she looked within the first half hour of the day:

Let’s go ahead and check that out a little closer:

There we go.

She was happier than she looked.

Then everyone helped haul up all the rafters and Dave helped Dan (our house in-charge guy who was awesome) along with a lot of other people nail them into place.

This was the day I got to use some SERIOUS power tools.  This nail gun that was humongous and the big electric saws.

I may have to do that more often…kind of empowering I tell you.

One of my favorite things was coming in from lunch break and seeing these three lined up together  hammering away on those first rafters when they started the first house the day before.

We did all that same stuff on the other three houses the next day.

Then they put on plywood, tar paper and trim.

A little snippet into how part of the process looked:

The kids loved this part.  They became great hammerers.

They got to use the “whacker tackers” and whack away stapling the tar paper on.

After tar paper came the metal edging stuff:

(I know after all this I should be more technical on the terminology…)

Then they nailed the final roofing stuff into place:

…and tarred down the outer edge on each row.

Now that is where kids got dirty I tell you!

Grace was proud to be in the twelve and older group who were allowed to tar.

Dave conquered his fear of roofs after his fall (back HERE).

Man alive was I ever glad Santa brought this special pony for Lucy in her stocking.  She sure had a lot of make-believe games going with that thing!

Day three was the longest day because it took a while to get all those roofs done.

And to get things cleaned up like this:


Here are most of the people who worked on “our” house:

Yep, we built that thing.

Felt so good.

Lu and her friend said goodbye to their little clubhouse.

…and we waved goodbye to our beloved-by-then worksite.

I know that’s a lot of pictures.  But I also know that some of my kids are young.  How I hope that when they come back to look at these the memories will flood back and they will remember how their hearts felt.
And that they will want to give some more.

More about how we got to give away the completed houses tomorrow if I can get to it!

*** post-edit note:  giving the houses away is HERE.


  1. This is AWESOME! It made me so excited to do this with my own family as soon as our baby girl is a few years older. Excited to see the "giving away" of the houses!

  2. I'm a lurker but I love the blog. I just wanted to say that while some of your kids are young they will most definitely remember the feeling. I was between 6-8 yrs old when my girl scout troop served food to the homeless and needy and to this day I remember the feeling I had being able to help those people. It set the stage for my life and I am sure this has done wonders for your children! Likewise one of my best memories was a World Changer's trip (working on homes for the less fortunate- much like this was for you) as a teenager and I was impacted from that too. So do not worry about them being able to remember the feeling because it will likely be one of their favorite memories.

  3. Oh this is amazing! Really inspiring!! You built a house! A house where a family will live for years to come, make memories in, have parties and many dinners. Inspiring!

  4. wow, Shawni I am soooo impressed with this. What a great idea, wish I had seen this a few years ago, my kids are all grown now, but this would have been a great thing to do, keep it up!!!

  5. Shawni, what a beautiful way to spend your Christmas! I can't even tell you how much I love this. Thank you for being such an inspiration & giving me lots of new ideas for my bucket list with my girls!

  6. I love that the year you got to remodel and, hopefully soon, move into a new home your family helped other families achieve the same goal!! As always, thanks for sharing part of your life!

  7. We went last year. I loved this project. You probally meet Robert Cox from Cedar City. That is who went with last year who is in my ward. I love the pictures they brought back so many good memories.
    So glad you had a great time doing it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *