"'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."

Grace is God’s action in our lives, revealing divine blessings, leading us to greater connectedness, compassion, and community. When grace is received and shared, it inspires solidarity and action.

Below are reflections from participants of the Casa Building trip on December 5-7, 2014.

Reflections from first time participants

“Casa building was truly an amazing experience. It put many things in perspective and it was very inspiring to see how people can do so much with so little. I felt very blessed to have met and worked with everyone on the trip as well as the chance to be immersed in the country’s culture. If the rest of the world had a similar sense of community and support, it would be a much better place.” – Vi Viet



“When I heard that we would be nailing things as part of our Casa Building service, I felt quite inadequate for not being able to be of much help.  My misgivings flew out of the window when I saw that the entire community, even 5 year-old children and elderly women, were wielding hammers and joyfully jumping in to contribute to the building effort.  I realized that service is to be in communion with others, and not the sharing of our strengths.  In trying to serve, we were served with God’s love in every encounter and smile we exchanged with the people of El Florido.” – Yen Dinh

Reflections from returning participants

“I love that our mission is to not just build homes, but we build community beyond borders, cultures, or language barriers. Casa building exemplifies that love is a universal language. That’s why I always go back.” – Vinh Tran

“When you think of Mexico or Tijuana, you may have certain ideas based on the media or other secondhand accounts. One short weekend with the community will change your perception. The hospitality and love from every member of the community of El Florido to those they have just met is inspiring.  The unknown of travelling to a new place can be a trying experience, but the people will set you at ease as you realize we are much more alike than different.” – Jonathan Golad

“I have been on a few trips to El Florido, Tijuana and every time I ask myself does it really matter if I go or not? Can I really make a difference? The answer is always the same when I come back home… yes it does matter. Even more ironic, the difference happens for me! “Being with” was certainly the theme of this trip. I have come to realize that there is no greater gift that I can receive or give than being with. Yes, money is needed to accomplish the labor in building a house. However, more valuable is my time spent with others to help build a home. This is exactly what I experienced this weekend. I received the grace if appreciating “Being with”. I experienced a deep vulnerable conversation while hammering chicken wire on the walls, was greeted with smiles and gifts of candy from the children, witnessed men being vulnerable with their participation in an emotional Mass and received the answer to my prayers by just listening to a man recently deported from the United States. My prayer has been, “God how can I best be a good steward of the many Graces you have given me?” and the answer was just “Be with and I will take care of the rest.” – Elvira Moran


“Every time I step out of the car when arriving in El Florido I am instantly greeted by the smiles of the children and their eagerness to help us unload the car or just simply hold my hand. What continues to draw me to this community is their ability to be so rich in spirit and love when they have so little in material things. They live simply and humbly while dedicating their time on weekends to accommodate numerous groups of volunteers, coordinating all the meals and place for us to stay. Their attentiveness, gratitude, and love truly gives me an instant sense of home and each time I leave I can’t help but feel a sense of sadness to leave them, but also a burning desire to return soon. I have always come with an intention to give but always receive so much more.” – Anna Viet

Mexico-US Border, on the Mexican side

On Casa Building: The Casa Building experience is less about building a house, it is more about building a community of hope.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to help the families of El Florido who possess abundant kindness and hospitality — giving them my time and effort feels effortless.” – Regina Bunye

On Casa del Migrante: The visit to Casa del Migrante is not easy.  Learning how the men were forced away from their families or have no families is heartbreaking, and gives me a real-life lens through which to see the fight for immigration policy reform (for most of the residents are deported from the United States).  The fight is no longer just a political hot topic, now it’s a cause that has truly touched me.” – Regina Bunye

On Las Posadas: Participating in Las Posadas during Casa Building in December was a treat.  “Journeying” with “Maria” and “Jose,” was a new way for me to prepare for the infant Jesus, and how fun… and delicious.  Homemade tamales!” – Regina Bunye