Building walls; breaking down barriers

Mother & daughter build home and memories 6,000 miles away

Mom and daughter on a Thrivent Builds site in Amman, Jordan.

In March 2017, Stephanie Korte and her mother, Heidi, boarded a plane to Amman, Jordan. They were traveling with 10 other church members from St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, to help build a permanent home for a Jordanian family. It was Stephanie’s first Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity experience and Heidi’s second.

Three years ago, Heidi and her older daughter embarked on a Thrivent Builds trip to El Salvador. “I was feeling sort of spiritually empty and thought, ‘what can I do to feel like I’m making a difference?” Heidi recalls. “A friend from church, Mary Mobley, told me about the trip, which she was leading, and that was the beginning. I was hooked.

“When I found out Mary was leading the Jordan trip, it was natural for Stephanie and me to join the group,” she adds.

Stephanie was eager to get to work. “I do a lot of local community service, and after hearing my mom and sister talking about their El Salvador Thrivent Builds trip, I knew I wanted to participate in one,” she says. “I thought it would be a great way to broaden my perspective and feel more inspired and passionate about giving back.”

Giving back is a family affair

Volunteering is nothing new to the Kortes. “My daughters and I participate in a lot of church-supported service activities – often side by side,” says Heidi.

Those projects include everything from hosting fundraisers to purchasing nonperishables for Detroit-area nonprofits; making blankets and packing toiletry kits for the homeless; and cooking and serving dinners to residents of Wayne County Family Center’s homeless shelter.

“I’ve always encouraged my children to give their time and talents, sharing the blessings they have,” Heidi says. “I consider myself blessed and called to do God’s work by helping others who aren’t as fortunate.”

So, for a week, Stephanie traded her laptop and backpack for a cement-filled bucket and a trowel. And while Stephanie and Heidi traveled across seven time zones to build a home for a Jordanian family, it was the people they met who filled their hearts with long-lasting memories.

They worked alongside the future homeowners – a family of five – including the husband who took a week of ‘vacation’ from the Jordanian army. “It was a magical opportunity to bring people together over the act of building a forever home,” Heidi recalls.

And every night meant a home-cooked dinner with a different Jordanian family. “Everyone we met – the kids who waved to us on the way to the worksite; our in-country Habitat for Humanity manager, Mohammed Malkawi; and our dinner hosts – was generous and kind. The country and its people are truly beautiful.”

Build a forever home

Are you ready to be part of a life-changing event? You can help build or repair homes locally or abroad through the Thrivent Builds program. Find a build with your local Habitat affiliate or find a trip to join.