Category: Acuña, Mexico

Casas Por Cristo: Building Relationships

In the field of missions, there is a much needed push to support the effort of relationships over projects.  This idea stems from the bigger break away from the “Savior Complex” often found in short-term missions.  The Savior Complex speaks to the idea that an outside group must come into a new place to fix the problems that the community has developed.  In breaking this down, groups and individuals engaging in the Savior Complex also take on the role of deciding what the individuals in the communities they step into need.

Belmont Mission Trip in Acuña, Mexico on March 11, 2019.

Belmont on Mission challenges this phenomenon by partnering with host organizations that are well established in the communities in which we serve, and who know the needs of their own community.  Through partnering with well established, effective host organizations, the mission seamlessly shifts from projects to people.

Belmont Mission Trip in Acuña, Mexico on March 11, 2019.

Casas por Cristo is our Host Organization for the Acuna, Mexico and Chinandega, Nicaragua spring break International Trips.  For the past few years, students have been traveling to Acuna to build a house with Casas por Cristo.  The organization has been in Acuna for over 25 years, and the people working for Casas por Cristo have developed longstanding relationships with the people living in the community.  As a result of these longstanding relationships, Casas por Cristo was able to develop a building floor plan that matched the needs of the community, work with local faith leaders to connect with individuals who could be served, and cultivate long lasting change in the community by meeting the need of stable housing.  In spending time with those who are served, Casas por Cristo could learn from them what they need, and use that knowledge to shape the ways in which they serve.

Belmont Mission Trip in Acuña, Mexico on March 12, 2019.

This spring, Belmont on Mission will send another group to Acuna, MX.  Additionally, a new trip to Nicaragua will allow more students to participate in the people over projects model for mission trips!  Check out this video to learn about Casas por Cristo’s introduction into Chinandega!

Acuña, Mexico – Student Reflections

Sarah: Despite our limited time, this experience was full of learning.  I learned many new skills such as how to properly stretch chicken wire, stucco the outside of the house, and install insulation and drywall. I also felt God teaching me to switch my mindset off myself and re-focus it on others.  I was pleasantly surprised by the genuineness with which the team engaged with each other, and it was so refreshing.  There were multiple times this past week where a teammate chose to speak a word of encouragement to me at a time when I was feeling drained, and it truly blessed me.  I praise God for Casas por Cristo, and the good work they are doing for His glory.  It was an honor to serve with the team in the community of Acuña, and I am so very grateful to have had this opportunity to learn and grow.

Mason: I was very much aware of the fact going into the trip that we would be building a house, but you can never be fully primed for what God is going to do throughout the journey. We knew we would be serving a family but had no clue that the family would end up being the compassionate people we know now. We also knew we would be hammering nails, but we definitely did not comprehend how many. In a short summary, besides a few bumps and bruises, there are no negative takeaways from the trip. We were able to further God’s Kingdom in exactly the way He planned and further our personal faith through the experience. I love and appreciate everything and everyone that God put in my life over the last week, as well as Belmont for allowing it to happen.

Elania: Coming back to Acuña is always such a humbling and beautiful experience. It teaches me all the things I take for granted each day and reminds me how big God’s love really is. I’m so grateful for the people who went with me, they were so welcoming and kind. Every relationship I built this week, with my peers and the family, I will cherish for a lifetime. I’m so lucky to have been a part of this amazing trip and work with Casas por Cristo. The city of Acuña and the people there are such a huge blessing. Casas por Cristo is such an amazing organization, and I encourage everyone to work with them someday.

Katie: As we leave Mexico, I just feel so joyful. This family now have a roof over their head and a house that is livable. Their previous home leaked every time it rained. I can’t even imagine living in a house that leaked when it rains. It made me realize just how much I can sometimes take for granted at home like a roof. Giving is always better than receiving. I am so glad I went on this trip again this spring break!

Grace: I learned that God can bring different communities together in so many ways and that we could show love to each other in so many ways. It was beautiful.

Jamie: My biggest takeaway from this trip is that God’s love and power have no boundaries. Most of us going on the trip had never met before, but our love for God brought us together to serve in a different country where none of us spoke the language fluently. Even though there was a language barrier, we were able to show the family the love of God through our actions which meant more than words. The most powerful moment for me was when we prayed over the family on the final day to dedicate the house. God was so present in that moment as everyone cried tears of joy and sorrow. I learned many skills on this trip and learned so much about myself and my faith. I know that God will continue to work in Acuña through Casas por Cristo, and I hope to stay in touch with Pastor Cristian and the family.

Acuña, Mexico – End of Week Recep

So much has happened in the past few days in Acuña. By day three, we were all tired and sore from doing construction for two days in a row. We were supposed to wake up at 6 am for breakfast at 6:30, but each day we stayed in bed just a little bit longer. We did a devotional before eating breakfast made by two wonderful ladies from Casas por Cristo. After eating, we loaded up the van and headed to the worksite jamming out to “El Mismo Sol” or the Jonas Brothers. As the house came together, we got more excited to work. Scott started each workday with another devotional and prayer. On day three, we continued putting up chicken wire around the entire exterior of the house for the stucco. While a team worked on that, Mason and I finished up some electrical work by drilling holes in the studs to run wires and by putting in outlet boxes. The family we were building the house for cooked all of us tacos for lunch and bought Coke. Both were so delicious! Today was also roofing day. Mason, Sam, and Jamie were on the roof nailing in the plywood boards, trim, and screwing in the roof. It was wonderful to have warm, sunny, dry weather today, but it was blazing hot on the roof.

  • Belmont Mission Trip in Acuña, Mexico on March 14, 2019.

Just as we put up boards around the outside, someone ran out yelling that Lexi got injured. All of us who were working froze, unsure of what was happening. Scott came out of the house carrying Lexi and brought her to a chair under the shade. She fell off a step ladder in the house while putting up insulation. Luckily, we had two nursing majors on the team who knew what to do. The team finished out the work day by getting the roof and insulation completed while Lexi played with the kids of the family.  We drove to the pharmacy to pick up something to wrap Lexi’s foot with. There was a lot of decision making, but Scott, Sam, Lexi, and Jamie chose to go back to Del Rio to the hospital to get X-rays to make sure nothing was broken. All praise to God that nothing was broken according to the X-rays and Lexi and Jamie got Chick-fil-a and Rudy’s for dinner.

On Thursday, we finished construction on the house and dedicated it to the family. Several people put up drywall on the ceiling inside. The rest of us waited around to start stucco and talked to the family. Once the ceiling drywall got up, a team stayed inside to complete the drywall while the rest of us started making stucco and putting it on the exterior of the wall. The stucco process consumed the majority of the day for many team members as it required much attention to detail. As we worked, Scott played music which really helped encourage and energize the team so the day seemed to pass rather quickly. For the second day in a row, the family provided us with lunch which was above and beyond what we expected. Today, they served us chicken with mole sauce and tortillas which was just the pick-me-up we needed to finish the house off.

Finally, we began to put the last touches on the home! This included installing light bulbs, cleaning tools, sweeping out the rooms, and putting up the final shelf. As the building came to a close, we gathered as a group and poured immensely into our relationships with the family. By playing with the children, communicating with the adults in broken Spanish, and giving hugs, we saw that the project was much more than simply a building. We presented the family with keys to their new home, a Casas por Cristo plaque, and some simple house warming gifts before presenting final prayers and words of blessings. Each Casas por Cristo plaque has a number on it that represents the number of houses Casas por Cristo has built. Blas, the head of the family, nailed in the final nail in the house to hang the plaque. This particular portion of the experience was a standout to our team members and was impactful in ways that exceed words. Seeing a project that we poured our hearts into come to completion and reach others for Christ was life-changing to say the very least and is the root of change in many hearts.

Post written by Jamie, Sarah, and Delaney



Acuña, Mexico – Day 3 Update

Our team in Acuña is off and running after a slow start because of weather. Take a look below for a quick update from one of our student leaders as well as some of the pictures from yesterday!
Hi everyone!  We finished day two strong!  Today, we put up all the walls, and we began reinforcing the outside and placing black board and chicken wire.  We tried to catch up on the work we got behind on yesterday.  It is finally starting to look like a house (or “casa”).  We had fun improving our construction skills and connecting with the family we are serving.  After a night of rain, we were thankful for good weather that allowed us to make some great progress.  We are excited for another great day tomorrow!
– Katie Bieri, student leader

Acuña, Mexico – Day 1-2 Update

  • Belmont Mission Trip in Acuña, Mexico on March 11, 2019.

The whole team made it safely to Acuña on Sunday evening after a long day of travel. We all met at school to catch a ride to the airport at the early hour of 4 am. Daylight savings, of course, had to be on Sunday. We flew from Nashville to San Antonio where we rented two vans to drive to Acuña. Our first stop on the way out of San Antonio was Whataburger, a Texas classic, to eat lunch/breakfast for many. We drove for about 3 hours before arriving in Del Rio. In Del Rio, we stopped to pick up snacks at Walmart. Since we arrived early, we hung out in the Walmart parking lot playing football to pass the time.  We eventually met Scott who is our project leader this week from Casas por Cristo. He directed us on how to cross the border and instructed us on what to do if we got stopped or separated.

We only had to drive for a few minutes before arriving in Acuña. We had no issues crossing into Mexico which was a huge relief. As soon as we crossed the border, it looked like we stepped into a different world. We drove through the city to the place where we are staying for the week, a former church. After dropping off our belongings and setting up our beds, we explored the area around us. Scott brought us to a Mexican restaurant to eat dinner. We all shared giant platters of meat and queso and tried these bubbly lime drinks called limonada mineral.

Full and tired from such a long day, we still had enough energy to visit the site where we would be building the house and pick up supplies. When we returned to the church, we hung out on the porch to get to know each other better and play card games. All of us went to bed early to recover from our travel day and prepare for a week of hard work.

(written by Student Team Leader, Jamie Keith)


Here are some additional pictures from the team’s first day of work on Monday!

  • Belmont Mission Trip in Acuña, Mexico on March 11, 2019.

Student Take: Elania Trimble

Today on the blog, we asked Elania to write about her experience in serving with Casas por Cristo, and how her time serving in the past has influenced her decision to serve with Belmont on Mission!  Here is Elania’s take on serving God by building the Kingdom!

“I have had the fortunate opportunity to not only work with Casas Por Cristo once but twice. I traveled to Acuña, Mexico in July 2016 and again in March 2017. My first time going, I was very nervous because I had no idea what to expect, and I had never gone out of the country for a mission trip before.

The first thing I noticed about Acuña was how small and brightly colored everything is. We met with Scott Dewitt, who was our trip leader and the Acuña field director. He told us a little bit about what to expect in the coming week. I honestly had no idea how a high school youth group was going to successfully build a house in only four days, but we were reassured that it could be done, and we were going to do it.

Our job site was in the middle of town and there was barely any room to move around, much less freely build a house. We had to build a lot of the parts in the middle of the street. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. Scott and his intern Alyssa took us step by step and by the end of day four we had a completely brand-new house. The most rewarding part of the trip was all the wonderful people I got to meet. The family we were building the house for had been living in one tiny house together. There were at least 10 people living there, and they were the nicest people I’ve ever met. I got to meet so many children from around town because they would all come visit us on the job site. They were so sweet and loved to help us out. We ended the trip with a little ceremony, during which we presented the house to the family.

Working with Casas Por Cristo was the most humbling and rewarding experience I’ve ever had. It made me realize how much we all take for granted in our comfortable and safe lives. The people who live there work so hard and get the bare minimum in return. They are so grateful for every little blessing in their lives and are the most kind-hearted people. The language barrier was not even an issue and didn’t stop me or anyone from connecting with the wonderful people of Acuña. When I saw that Belmont had a mission with Casas Por Cristo is was the easiest and fastest decision I’ve ever made. I am so excited to be going back to Acuña and can’t wait to make more lasting memories with Belmont on Mission over spring break!”

If you have any questions about Elania’s experience, Belmont on Mission, or upcoming Immersion, International, or Plunge trips, please reach out!

Host Partner Spotlight: Casas por Cristo

Over spring break, many Belmont students spend a week serving with Belmont on Mission. Groups of Belmont students travel to numerous locations both in the United States and abroad. International trips are a chance to be immersed in a local culture outside the U.S., grow in understanding of the cares and concerns of those communities, and promote fellowship and mutuality in your interactions with others. In other words, while there are opportunities to serve and complete projects, the emphasis is on learning and relationship.

This spring, a group of students will travel to Acuña, MX to partner with Casas por Cristo in the mission of building a house for a family who needs to be reminded of God’s love for them. For over 25 years, Casas por Cristo has been fulfilling their mission of building and serving the kingdom of God; there are now over 5,000 CPC homes in the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and soon Nicaragua.

During their time in Acuña, students will be building the Kingdom of God in more ways than one. Casas por Cristo seeks to build homes, relationships, and opportunities for growth. In striving to build the Kingdom, CPC cultivates opportunities for growth in structured experiences. Through these structured experiences, CPC builds relationships between people who, otherwise, would never have met.

The service that Casas por Cristo provides to so many communities is amazing. Through the building process, there are unique opportunities presented to us by God to serve each other. CPC’s guiding statement is as follows: “We are dedicated to meeting the physical need of better housing as a ways of also meeting the spiritual need for Jesus Christ.”

Belmont on Mission is so excited to be partnering with such a wonderful organization. If you have any questions about upcoming mission trips or Belmont on Mission in general, please reach out!