For years, groups of missionaries have been traveling to our village and building houses. The house isn't much - 4 walls, a newly redesigned upstairs loft, and a porch. There's not insulation, no rooms, no dry wall, no heating or air conditioning, no bathroom. Just a 12x24 rectangle building. But in a world where your home before this one was held together by mis-matched pieces of pallet wood and tarped roofs, the gift of a home with a cement floor, walls without holes, and a roof that won't leak is a life changing gift.

I can't count the amount of homes that have been built in our village; I can't even tell you how many I've been able to help with. I'm so thankful for groups who forget the fear of entering a dangerous, foreign country and instead focus on following God's call to help the poor. It's life changing -- both for the people receiving the new home, and for the one's building it as well.

While every family is grateful for their new home, never have I experienced gratefulness like I did last week when Lifepoint Church built a home for our neighbors across the street.

As I went inside the house to check it out, I saw Daisy, the middle child and youngest girl, upstairs with a huge smile on her face. She proudly told me that she had claimed her room and that her sister would get the other one. (The upstairs loft is connected with a bridge of sorts, which kind of creates two separate living spaces.)  I think Daisy brought every single one of her friends upstairs to see it for themselves.

Graciela - the oldest of the kids - experienced it differently. When the house was finally finished, I watched as she ran from our house to hers to see it for herself. I followed her in, and found her upstairs alone in tears. I held her as she repeatedly thanked me for her home. "Es de Dios," I said. And she agreed, thanking God as well.

But the tears didn't end there. As she hugged the team members, thanking them for this gift, we were all brought to tears ourselves -- big weeping tears of joy and thankfulness.

What we didn't know until later is that this house was more than a dry, rat-free place to live for Graciela. As tears filled her eyes, her mom told us how much her daughter had been dreaming of a house like this. Since they moved into our village a year ago, they had been known as the "poor" family. In school, she was picked on for having a house so small, so full of rain water, with only two beds inside where they all slept together; No chairs, no table - just two beds and a stove in a 12x10 space.

This was more than a house for Graciela.

This house was a source of hope for her. Hope that her identity and place in her community could change. That she wouldn't be picked on any longer. She finally felt like she was worthy of more.

It breaks my heart that she ever felt lesser-than. Because she's not. She's truly one of the most amazing people I've ever known. Her family has been through a lot - with a father who was once involved in cartel business, and parents who only recently gave their lives to Christ, a mother who takes care of the children by herself 6 days a week from the time they wake until the time they go to bed - Graciela had taken on a great amount of responsibility to care for her family. Her tears were more than they seemed. They were the picture of freedom for her soul.

My favorite part of building homes in Mexico is the dedication. Once the house is complete, the team gathers at the new house with the family in celebration. We share scripture, people tell stories of what God had done that week in their lives, we lay hands on the house and pray over the family, and finally, we hand over the keys to their new home. It's more beautiful than you could imagine.

And there are more tears.

Always more tears.

In those moments, while I watched that child overcome with emotion for something that most people would view as a glorified shed, my ugliness became so evident. I prayed right then that the Lord would bring that moment back to my mind any time I found myself becoming discontent, every time I complained about where I lived, whether I was cold or hot, when I wanted more more more.

Lord, give me a spirit of gratefulness like Graciela.