Have you ever wondered how it would be to spend Christmas vacation in old Mexico, enjoying the fiestas, siestas and basking under the clear blue Mexican skies? Seems like a great way to spend your Christmas vacation.

Forty families, consisting of 150 plus members, including children (of course), traveled from Salt Lake City, Cedar City and the Phoenix area to visit old Mexico with an agenda of humanitarian service. Each family who signed on with the non-profit organization “Families Helping Families,” contributed between $1500 and $2500 for the purchasing of land and materials, with an added commitment of time and donated labor to build homes for some very fortunate people in Rocky Point, Mexico. Their vans were loaded with gifts, tools, building supplies, furniture and toys as they crossed the border into Mexico.

Many of the families decided to put all of their resources into the service project, sacrificing the exchanging of Christmas gifts among family members so more of their resources could be donated to the Mexican people.

Upon arrival at the designated area, the crew of family members was ready to begin the project of building brick homes for some fortunate families living in Rocky Point. Each home was designed for three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room.

Local contractors had the cement pads in place and the corners bricked up five high, so the workers could begin their project. Men, women and children mixed mortar, cut and placed bricks. The women especially liked to cut the bricks, as the men did the heavier work. Within three days, three houses were erected as far as they could be, complete with roofs, ready for the finish work. Within two or three months, families will be moving into the structures.

The children were shocked by the living conditions of many of the people who reside in Mexico. It was not uncommon to see mere blankets thrown over trees or bushes for shelter. Shacks were made from cardboard, pieces of tin, pallets tied together and any other materials that could be used to cover the shanties, in an effort to keep warm.

Greg Cox, a young man, spoke of humility as he observed the contrast of everyday living among the impoverished Mexicans, in contrast with the lavish resorts where visiting families spent their nights with most of the comforts of home, as others were exposed to the elements of cold and inconvenience.

It was not all work and no play for the families who signed on for the humanitarian project. Each family brought food, clothing and toys, and provided a Christmas party with turkey and all of the trimmings. They fed hundreds of very grateful Mexican people.

Robert (Gus) Cox, father of five, spoke of their newfound friends as happy, grateful and warm folks, who exhibited a humility and love for one another.

Some of the visiting girls were true blonde, blue-eyed girls who found they were admired and appreciated by both young and old as their complexions were in complete contrast with the brown-eyed, dark-skinned Mexicans. Little boys loved to touch their golden tresses and hug the light cheeks of the fair young ladies.

Some of the families were most eager to sign up for next year’s humanitarian service project. Perhaps the visit was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some, as the families shared resources, labor and love to others who are not so fortunate in their living conditions and educational opportunities.

Many happy families traveled back home with stories to tell, and a new outlook on life. They had experienced first-hand the hardships that some endure, with optimism and gratitude towards those who gave them an opportunity to give of themselves and their resources to help someone else.