Instead of pageant, church builds Habitat home
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 9, 2012 at 6:09 a.m.
Updated Dec. 10, 2012 at 6:10 a.m.
A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
• PARTNERS: Habitat for Humanity, ReStore, Wells Fargo, Interstate Battery, and Northside Baptist Church.
• DONATIONS: Area donations for the house totaled $41,000; Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Bootstrap Program lent $37,000.
• HOME VALUE: Sale price, $78,000. Anticipated appraisal value, $96,000.
• MORE INFO:goldencrescenthabitat.org
An eager crowd gathered on Ricky and Sophia Lamas' driveway, applauding as the couple received a new copy of the Holy Bible.
Lamas clenched the blue book in his hand, offered as a gift from Cynthia Staley, executive director of Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity, as she also handed over the keys to their new home.
"We give all our new homeowners a copy of the Bible because we believe, as do Ricky and Sophia, that Christ is the very cornerstone upon whom we build our lives. And that he is the solid foundation," Staley said.
Earlier this year, the Lamases partnered with Habitat for Humanity, ReStore, Wells Fargo Bank, Interstate Battery and Northside Baptist Church to build a home from the ground up during the church's first-ever "A Home for Christmas" program.
Since the Victoria couple married 13 years ago, they've rented homes in the Victoria area. But they've never been able to secure financing to purchase a home of their own.
"We wanted to be homeowners for all these years. It's been a dream for a long time," said Sophia Lamas, 42. "When we got accepted with Habitat, I was really surprised because we were finally going to have our own home."
The couple and their four children, Ricki, 16; Chelsi, 14; Amber, 13; and Lorenzo, 12, joined more than 100 Northside Baptist volunteers in recent months to build their one-story four-bedroom, two-bathroom dream home on Swan Drive.
A few months ago, the property was a grassy lot. On Sunday, however, the couple stood on a newly poured driveway and stared back at a brick and white siding home they could call their own - just in time for Christmas.
Ricky Lamas, 38, a maintenance man with Woodhouse Day Spas, spent early mornings and late evenings working on the home. And every day that another wall went up, he gave thanks to God that his dream was coming true.
Lamas said the home is symbolic of answered prayer, and every part of the home is blessed by God.
As volunteers signed up to build the home, Lamas said they picked up a pen and marked the beams with spiritual encouragement.
"All the beams throughout the house have scripture written on them. You can't see them when you look at the house from the outside because they're inside the walls. But they're all over," Lamas said.
Lamas even decided to bury the first Bible he's ever owned in the concrete foundation, so that every time the family walked through the home they would be reminded their home and family are first built on God.
"We poured the concrete over the Bible, and it's a part of the foundation now," Lamas said. "Just walking in the house is an awesome thing. The home is filled with God's word, literally, the foundation, the walls and the people living in it."
Sophia too, is pleased her new home is marked with God's blessings on every beam.
"I think it was awesome," Sophia said. "And now I know when I stand in my house, I know I can stand on God's word."
Northside Baptist senior pastor Tim Williams said the home-building project was focused on more than helping a family get a new home for Christmas.
It was about service and sacrifice and working as a congregation to better a community.
"Since we weren't doing (the Christmas) pageant this year, we said, 'Let's go out to the community instead of having the community come to us,'" Williams said. "This was the effort of a lot of people, and the church has really come together and made some pretty big sacrifices of their time."
The Lamases said they plan to move into the home in the next few weeks. And with twinkling lights already stapled to the roof's edge, the home is ready for Christmas.
"I thank God and everyone who has come out here to help us, and all the mighty men and women who've made this possible through Christ," Ricky Lamas said.
"It's going to be a good Christmas," Sophia added. "Really good."