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‘The place we call home’ (part 2) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

‘The place we call home’ (part 2)

 

A tattered photo from a newspaper shows the Johnson family in 1993, on the front porch of their new Habitat for Humanity house. Son Joshua was 5, and his twin sisters, Elishia and Mary, celebrated their first birthday there. Photo courtesy of Evergreen Habitat for Humanity

   
 

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Blessings to share


Moving into a house is one thing. Paying for it is another.

“There was a time or two when I thought we weren’t going to make it,” said Cindy, who works in shipping and receiving for Macy’s. “God told me to be patient and it would work out.”

The Johnsons often had extra mouths to feed because of their open-door policy for people in need.

“I feel like helping other people is my calling,” said Michael, who has received training as a counselor. “This home has been such a blessing to us, and we have blessed others with it.”

Workplace injuries and layoffs kept Michael, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who has been clean for years, bouncing from job to job, including roofing, pressure washing and janitorial work. He is only 52, but glaucoma in both eyes keeps him from working today.

Even during the tough times, the Johnsons did without other things to stay current on the house payment. In part, that is because of their personal relationship with Habitat.

“They would come into the office, and we would commiserate with them,” Bryant said. “But they knew they still owed us. We weren’t just the mortgage guy.”

The house also represented something the Johnsons decided they couldn’t shortchange: hope.

“The house always gave us hope for the future,” Cindy said. “It gave our kids hope for their future.”

Joshua, now 25, still lives at home and is working toward a degree in fitness training. Elishia, 21, also is living with her parents and has plans to attend college in the fall. Her twin, Mary, has moved to Iowa.

“This house gave us a fresh start,” Joshua said. “Now it is the place we call home.”

And now that home belongs, free and clear, to the Johnsons.

“I went to Habitat to pay it off, and they said, ‘Oh my gosh. You aren’t serious.’ ” Cindy said, laughing. “They got out the camera. They were giving me hugs. They were as excited as we were.”