The House of Grace will be a place for visiting clergy to live while they minister to our school and community – find out more about it here. This post is a record of this dream coming to fruition, and a way to remember the many, many people who helped make it happen.
Getting ready to Build
Preparations for building began in February, 2019, with truck loads of fill being added to the site. The House of Grace is located on the East side of the school, near our palapa and our upper division classrooms, offering excellent views over the lagoon towards Mara Laguna (formerly Reef Village).
Our local staff then did the back-breaking work of sinking the foundation posts into place.
The First Builders – St Michael’s Episcopal Church
We were now ready for our first construction team to get to work! Volunteers from St Michael’s Episcopal Church in Raleigh, North Carolina did a huge amount of work over the first week of the Easter Holidays, adding the floor and walls. The walls were assembled on the floor and raised as a whole piece.
It was wonderful to have our palapa as a shaded prep and cutting space in the hot weather! So once again THANK YOU to the teams who built the papapa.
Jonathan Stafford and John McHenry, members of the St Michael’s team, stayed in Belize for an extra week to continue building. They worked alongside our own Mr. Freddy and few local day laborers
An incredible amount of work over the second week saw the walls get finished, the roof go up and the front and side decking added.
It was so exciting to see such a huge amount of work get completed in a few short weeks!
We are incredibly grateful to Jonathan Stafford of Stafford Construction for his expertise and generous donation of time, tools, talent and energy.A huge thank you also goes to John McHenry, who has put an enormous about of planning into the House of Grace, has led many teams and is to Holy Cross School and is the man who helped with our solar project.
After the team left work continued using local labor for several months. During this time Mr. Freddy put in a beautiful hardwood floor. This was painstaking and fiddly work, but the results were worth it!
Working Hard in the Summer of 2019
Over June, July and August were incredibly blessed to have several groups of mission teams come down to help make rapid progress.
All Saints’ Episcopal Church
In mid June, an experienced team from All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas returned to help on the house – and many other projects.
First they wrapped the house, and added zinc roofing to the back half of the roof – hot work in a tropical summer. Then they started the huge job of adding the wooden siding.
Christ Episcopal Church
Worked continued the following week with a large and energetic youth team from Christ Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to assisting with other projects all over the school, the team was able to continue adding siding around most of the House of Grace. The wood looks so beautiful!
St Simon’s Anglican Church
The next team was a very hard working Canadian team from St. Simon’s Anglican Church, who did a wonderful job finishing the highest parts of the siding – a tricky job requiring accurate measuring.
A few team members also started exceptionally early one morning to finish off the roofing before the heat of the day set in. This was a relief, as we’re officially in the wet season now and can expect rain at any time (even if it has been unusually dry this year).
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
Next, we were joined by an enthusiastic youth group from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in El Dorado, Arkansas. While most of their effort focused on other projects around the school, they were able to make a start on the interior insulation – absolutely essential to keep the heat OUT!
St Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Our final team for the summer of 2019 was a very capable team from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. They spent much of their time focused on the House of Grace and were able to build stairs, line much of the interior in sheet rock and finish most of the railing. The house is starting to look nearly complete!
After the summer teams, our own faithful Mr Freddy and his new assistant Mr. Enqique have continued to work hard, adding doors, windows and many other small jobs. The most stunning difference was adding the insulating and beautiful mahogany vaulted ceiling.
Mr. Enqique is a parent and neighbor of our school who has helped in many ways. He currently has 4 daughters attending Holy Cross.
Mission teams tend to come either in early in the year or over the summer, so building is seasonal. As the new year approached, we looked forward to the arrival of our next mission teams.
St Stephen’s Episcopal Church
Hard working volunteers from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Edina, MN arrived for a week of building.
Their team spread out all over the house, and painted the entire interior and made a start to the tiling in the bathroom. The house is beginning to look like a very inviting place to stay!
Outside the team worked very hard to move a lot of the dirt near the house to fill in some of the holes left by construction. Not only is this visually nicer, but will make it safer and leave fewer puddles in the wet season.
Last of all, they built a concrete bottom step for washing feet – another very important part of a home in the tropics.
During their visit, local Belizean contractors installed a beautiful mahogany kitchen.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
In February, a small team from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Durham, North Carolina continued the hard work in the house of Grace, as well as doing many other tasks around the school.
St. Luke’s were one of the earliest teams to ever work at Holy Cross. This added a layer of significance to this mission trip, as they contributed to the legacy of their good friend Principal Grace Williams, in whose memory this house is dedicated.
At 85 years young, Janet is so far the oldest of our volunteer workers. But she didn’t think it was a big deal. She’s done plenty of tiling before.