By Chelsea Quackenbush
Photography by Scott Collins
In the Rio Grande Valley, when it’s hot, it’s really hot.
And when it’s cold, it’s really cold.
Just ask the Urbano family. The family of eight used to sleep crumpled up on the floor in a tiny trailer in a colonias neighborhood. They slept there for three years. They had no hot water.
The children – Rocio, now 14; Rafael Jr, 10; Oman, 7; Miriam, 6; Karla, 20 months; and Karina, 8 months – couldn’t go to school. Their parents, Rafael and Aracely, felt helpless.
One day, Aracely and the kids were outside selling fruit to their neighbors who were playing volleyball when they met a girl who knew about Buckner and how it helps families in the South Texas communities. She got them uniforms so they could go to school.
Before they knew it, construction on a new home began where the old, run-down trailer once stood.
They had been promised a new home by a nearby school but the promise was broken. Although the family felt deceived, “we knew there was something different with Buckner,” Aracely said.
When they first moved in, the whole family lined up down the hall to take a hot shower. The Urbanos are diligent about keeping the house clean and put together. They try to take care of it as much as they can, Rafael said.
“We had been praying about a new house and we knew this time would be different,” Aracely said. “It’s a motivation for my family. As God allows us to grow, we want to help someone else.”
The family said they were happy to be able to clean something. They all call it a great blessing from God.
They have ample space to cook, to sit and do homework, and to sleep. The countertops are spotless. The floors of the children’s bedrooms are spotless.
“They’ve been through a lot,” Buckner mission coordinator Gabriel Flores said. “You could tell this family would be successful. Their yard and trailer were clean, which is not something you see often. They didn’t have much but it was clean.”
Rafael and Aracely said their family is more united now and they’re able to help each other. They have a motivation to be better and do something. Also with help from Buckner, Rafael was able to secure a job as the main cook at a local restaurant, Don Felipe. Aracely sells fruit around town.
“They ask the kids to take care of the house, not just because someone gave it to them, but because they want to,” Flores said. “They want them to learn so they’ll continue to take care of things in life. Their family is just amazing.”
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