Claudia lives in Altiplano with her husband and their four children. When they were blessed by the group from Shelton Christian Church who came and built a house with them three years ago, they opted to bless their mother-in-law rather than move into the home right away.
In their Amor house I met Maria Loera, 63, and Montse, 44.
Maria is a widow and mother-in-law to Claudia. Three years ago, Maria found herself homeless. Her grown children had moved out of her house and she couldn’t make ends meet, so she lived moving from house to house.
Maria is very proud of her home. She planted a small garden and recently finished building a bathroom attached to the house.
Claudia didn’t like seeing her mother-in-law living like that, so she asked her husband Danilo to have his mother moved into their newly built house – They have lived in their old house for a while and would find ways to make it work while they continued to save to build a brick and mortar home. And they did.
Danilo wasn’t surprised of the generosity of his wife, after all that’s how they met.
We met at a park in Nogales. He was sleeping under a tree and I thought he was a migrant—One of those men who got off the train (La Bestia). Children were trying to steal his money so I approached them and shooed them away. I was afraid he was dead, but then he woke up and asked me for the time. I offered him my bottle of water and left.
I went to the bank to cash my paycheck. But a vision of the man haunted me, so I returned to the park to check on him. He was still lying where I had left him and asked him if he would like something to eat. We went to eat tacos. He was so shy, he only asked for two. We talked for a long time and I learned that he was not a migrant, but lived on a migrant camp.
He had a drinking problem, and had become a vagabond. His family had moved to Tijuana and like me he was alone in Nogales. I told him that I had moved to Nogales to work and I had left my two children (Adrian and Alejandro) in Nayarit.
We became friends and he stopped drinking. One day, he asked me to become his wife and to bring my children to live with us. We moved to Tijuana and eventually bought a piece of land where we built this house.
Danilo and Claudia had two more children: Jesus and Daniela. They were very young when the groups from United States came to build their Amor house, but everyone else still remembers the “gringos.” For the family it was a time of mutual sharing of their faith, their testimonies and food. A time they remember fondly.
Montse, unable to work, spends most of her time trying to learn English and studying her Bible where she finds strength
Montse is Maria’s niece. She moved to live with her aunt Maria after she became inexplicably ill. For two years she’s been battling disabling pain that makes her extremely weak and she can not work. She lost her social security when the doctors determined they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. Unable to work, Montse was at the verge of becoming destitute.
“I don’t have a very good relationship with my mom, if it wasn’t for my aunt Maria taking me in I don’t know what would’ve been of me. “ Montse said.
“If it wasn’t for Claudia’s gift I wouldn’t have a place to live.” Maria said.
“If the group had not come to build a house, I would still have my mother-in-law living with us... We would have made a way, but I’m glad we had something to offer her, so she could welcome Monste who’s now like a sister to me.” Claudia said.
Claudia, Daniela (who was only a baby when their Amor house was built), Claudia's nephew and Maria pose for a picture in front of Maria's flower garden
“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” Ruth 1:16 (ESV)