An Ahwatukee Foothills church group is giving back this week by building homes on the San Carlos Apache reservation in eastern Arizona.

This is the 17th annual construction-related mission trip for Mountain View Lutheran Church. Most of the trips have been to Mexico, although the group went to the Navajo Nation last year and picked another location in Arizona this year due to concerns about border violence, said Associate Pastor Leland Armbright, coordinator for the trip.

This is Armbright’s first trip with Mountain View, although he has done construction-related mission trips with other groups.

“It’s a tangible way of making a difference for someone else. Mountain View has food pantries and we host Family Promise, which is a ministry for homeless families with small kids,” Armbright said. “Those are things most people don’t see. But this is a lasting, tangible way to make a difference in the community.”

About 50 members of Mountain View Lutheran Church will be on the trip, most of them from Ahwatukee Foothills, Armbright said. The group will work on three homes.

Armbright expects to take another group of about 50 middle school students on a similar service trip this fall.

This will be the seventh Mountain View mission trip for Rex Ross, who has worshiped at the church for about 25 years.

Going on a trip to do heavy duty construction is hard work and far from a typical vacation, Ross said. But still, people are drawn to go year after year.

“It’s an opportunity to help where you can, and it’s more than just a small token. It’s a pretty intense deal, and everyone else is doing it, too. Living through that, it’s moving to people,” Ross said. “It alters people’s thoughts, and makes people feel good.”

Going to the San Carlos reservation will be an interesting cultural experience, Ross said. He has heard that the family units on the reservation are very motivated to stick together, even in less than ideal living situations, and he’s interested to see how that works first-hand.

In addition to the service aspect, Armbright is interested in learning new construction techniques. These homes are built using concrete that’s poured into foam forms. The foam is removed when the concrete dries and stucco is applied, Armbright said.

The Mountain View workers will build the homes alongside families who will ultimately live in them, which is another aspect of the trip Armbright likes.

“There’s a great sense of personal reward when you’re able to hand over the keys to a home to a family that has never owned a home, to see not just the appreciation, but the new sense of hope for the future,” Armbright said. “Some families move literally from despair to hope not just with the family having a new home, but a new life.

“It’s not a handout,” Armbright added. “It’s a hand up.”

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