By Sean Gaffney
The McAllen Monitor
PEÑITAS — Rolando Rosales and his six children plan to tend to his wife’s grave Sunday. As they do, he will carry the answer to her prayers: keys to the family’s new home.
Cancer killed Martha Rosales two years ago, but on Tuesday her final plea was answered when her husband unlocked the side door and the children ran inside to the three-bedroom abode for which their mother had prayed.
Buckner International, a global Christian ministry, with the help of volunteers from First Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., built the $15,000 home for the widowed father, who has struggled since his wife’s death to raise the children and do odd jobs to put food on the table.
“I take it day by day,” the 41-year-old said. “It was pretty hard at first.”
The square home sits raised on concrete blocks in a colonia north of Peñitas. Inside, the children have already divided up the two bedrooms — three girls in one and three boys in the other.
Kevin, the oldest boy, said he took the smaller bedroom for himself and his brothers because it would be easier to keep clean.
“I’m excited to move in,” said the 12-year-old, who wants to be a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
The home is not yet finished. Rolando Rosales and a friend need to paint the walls, lay the linoleum floor, install the kitchen cabinets and appliances and do most everything else to the home’s interior. He also needs to find furniture.
Abert Reyes, the president of Buckner, said the organization leaves the home unfinished in the hope that the new owner will feel a sense of pride by completing the work on his own. Of course, Buckner will help out if need be.
“We’re helping fill that gap that they just can’t cross,” Reyes said.
Rolando Rosales also needs to find furniture, some of which will be donated by McAllen’s Calvary Baptist Church.
The family’s mattresses were stolen last month when thieves broke into a trailer adjacent to the family’s new home. The criminals made off with the children’s toys and even scattered clothing in the yard. Rolando Rosales was slowly fixing the trailer to move his family from their current home at his mother’s house before the church group began construction on the new house last week.
Misfortune and blessings have come two-by-two for the Rosales family. When Martha Rosales battled cancer, aid groups provided her with treatment and Buckner International helped the family rent a new home and leave the shack where Martha sweated inside in the summer heat and watched her children play outdoors through a hole in the wall.
The Rio Grande Valley’s chapter of Buckner International built 28 homes last year for needy families and repaired 450 others. There are more than 1,000 colonias in Hidalgo County that are home to close to a half million people, some of whom live in squalor, said Jorge Zapata, Buckner’s colonia program director in the Valley.
“(Our work) is a drop of water in the middle of the desert,” he said.
Back at the home, Rolando Rosales ventured outside. His young children leaned against the trailer, giggling and looking at their new home.
“I feel very happy and grateful,” the father said.
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