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Lupe and Roxy Sanchez opened a new chapter in their personal journey with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) in November.

That’s when they made the 20-hour drive from their home in Bloomington, Texas, up to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where they volunteered to install electrical panel boxes for a new volunteer center.

The center, being built through a partnership with MDS and the Pine Ridge Long Term Recovery Committee, will help accommodate volunteers who continue to serve in the community.

MDS has been active at the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to some 38,000 Oglala Lakota, since 2017, helping people recover from storms.

The Sanchez family knows firsthand the impact caring volunteers can have on storm survivors.

When they lost their home to Hurricane Harvey in 2017, MDS crews built them a new residence two years later. Since then, Lupe, an electrician, has been hired by MDS to wire additional homes built by volunteers in Texas.

The family decided to express their gratitude to MDS by volunteering at Pine Ridge. Lupe, Roxy, and their children, both in their 20s, stayed at the Hands of Faith Ministries in White Clay, Nebraska, driving to the worksite each day.

“We put up almost all the electrical panels,” said Lupe, who vividly remembers the beautiful scenery in South Dakota. For Lupe, MDS was a chance to work alongside his family.

“I’m glad my son and daughter came with us, because the work was heavy,” he said. “We set up panels, and Roxy cooked for us all.”

Alyssa Sanchez, Lupe and Roxy’s daughter, smiled as she described a volunteer experience she’ll never forget. “It was a great trip and I will go back. There’s no job like it.”

Roxy agreed that the trip was a great service opportunity for the family. “I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she said. “There’s no ‘ands’ or ‘buts’ about any of this.”

Remembering a time when her family didn’t know where to turn, Roxy said being able to help someone else in need has a deep meaning. In fact, the hardest aspect of the trip was having to leave, she said.

“You want to do so much but you can’t,” she said. “My heart just hurts for people there.”

Attending church with people from the community, Roxy said she could see that some people were really hurting. “People are so poor,” she said.

Roxy decided to express her sense of caring by cooking dinner for those in the church. She put on a big pot of soup and ended up feeding 20 people.

“I figured they had been feeding their souls at the church, so I could give them something to warm up their bodies. We will pray that God does something. It just broke my heart,” she said.

As Christmas approaches, Roxy has decided to put together a parcel of small gifts from her family for the children at Pine Ridge. As she gathers items, she plans to pass them to the next set of volunteers traveling there.

“We might not have lots but what we have—we can share with you. Don’t lose faith. Just keep your faith in God,” she said.

Read more about the Sanchez family here.

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