Belize 2020

Article by: Marla Cautilli

As families all over the United States gave thanks for turkey, stuffing, mashed
potatoes and green bean casserole on November 28th, a family of five gathered in
Belize to give thanks for their new home. For Emil, Dorette and their three little girls
the house blessing represented the culmination of years of want and need, weeks of
preparation, days of hard work, several sleepless nights, and a dream come true.
When the house they had rented for seven years was sold without warning, they
found themselves without a place to call home. For several months they lived in a
small wooden shack with no electricity, no running water and an outdoor bathroom.
This family of five shared one bed and prayed each night that the cinder blocks on
the roof would keep the tin in place so the rain wouldn’t come in. When the group
arrived to build their new home the weight began to lift from the shoulders of Emil
and Dorette.

When the walls were raised on the second day the smiles grew. More burdens were
lifted. Dorette showed the group where the girls would sleep. For the first time ever,
they would have their own room, a luxury, never before imagined.
On the final day of the build there was much discussion about the color choice for
the window slats. Dorette wanted white, Emil wanted Grey. The group wanted to get
it right. In the end, the rain came and the only thing that mattered to the young
couple was the roof – the good solid roof – nailed down and guaranteed to keep the
rain out. Paint for the shutters could wait. The important pieces were in place.

The house blessing began with the arrival of Shayla, Zaida, and Reeyah, ages seven,
five, and two. It was their first time on the job site since the first day. They stood and
stared at their new home. They were silent. I doubt their minds were quiet. Emil’s
mind must have been busy too. As the house blessing commenced the tears in his
eyes began to escape. It was as if the worry, the fear, the pressure to provide safe
housing for his family was slipping away. Once the keys to his new home were safely
in his grasp the tears were replaced by a confident, relaxed smile. A dream had come
true.

The 400 the house was built, blessed, and handed over to a beautiful family on that
Thanksgiving Day. Like the walls of that house, a family was lifted, and better
equipped to handle the storms of life. Emil and Dorette can now dream loftier
dreams for their family.

As we loaded up the van and prepared to drive away, a new noise coming from the
house was detected. It was the sound of laughter as the three girls ran from room to
room, playing, dancing, singing, and dreaming their own new dreams.