Rev. Sharon Wylie – Minister’s Message for November 2019

A story about how Chalice has changed in the past few years…

Back in July 2014, we worked on a Habitat for Humanity project here in Escondido. In order to participate, we had to pay $1500, and at that time, the money came from the Social Justice Team’s budget.

People loved working on the home, and many people expressed hope that we could work with Habitat for Humanity more often. But I told people, “Well, it costs $1500,” and we all immediately understood how prohibitively expensive that was. (In fact, the main reason we have not worked again with Habitat for Humanity is that they have not had additional projects in Escondido.)

Flash forward to January 2019. Local UU organization Casas de Luz was the recipient of our Sunday social justice offering, and we heard about their work building homes in Tijuana for people living in poverty.

By the end of February, our Social Justice Team had led an informational gathering on doing a weekend homebuild project. It was clear there was interest and enthusiasm; we just needed to raise $4700. In contrast to several years before, we thought this sounded like a very achievable amount to raise!

We used the Unitarian Universalist fundraising site, Faithify, to quickly raise the money needed to make the homebuild project possible. We had never used Faithify before and were pleased that it allowed people outside our congregation to easily donate. We received donations from UUs (and non-UUs) across the country!

Now I am writing this just after our homebuild weekend, October 26-27. Twenty-four Chalice congregants and friends traveled to Tijuana to work with the Casas de Luz team to build a 16×24 sf home for a single mother with five young children. We arrived wondering how it would be possible to build a home (albeit a small home) in a day and a half. And then about a half hour after we started, it became clear that we probably had more people than we needed! Or at least we had enough people that everyone could take breaks when they wanted.

We stayed the night at a local orphanage (plenty of rooms), and finished the project by 1 pm on Sunday. Of course you know this was not a fancy home. But when you live in poverty in Tijuana, a home with a concrete floor instead of dirt, and a home with a solid roof instead of a tarp…these are good things.

The homeowner wept when it was time for her to use her key to open the door to her new house. She and her children had worked side by side with us all weekend, and even though language was a barrier for most of us, we nevertheless had a communal sense of all having gotten to know each other. One of her children put her arms around me and cried when it was time for us to go.

As I told the homeowner on Sunday morning, we were blessed to get to know her family, and blessed to have the opportunity to provide needed help.

Bright blessings,