Andrea East on Empowering Communities One Home at a Time

Written by Matthew Ludden / October 17, 2023 / 35 Minute Read
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Andrea East is the Director of Development for the Youth With A Mission San Diego/Baja Homes of Hope Program.


Episode 3

When it comes to mission-driven endeavors, Andrea East’s dedication shines brightly. As the Director of Development for the Youth With A Mission San Diego/Baja Homes of Hope Program, Andrea’s commitment has been unwavering, from her early involvement as a young child to her current leadership role.

In today’s episode, we explore the world of mission-driven businesses, guided by Andrea’s heartfelt anecdotes. Learn about the transformative impact of the Homes of Hope initiative, and how addressing foundational needs can unlock profound potential in communities.

Throughout our conversation, we delve into the power of human connection, the ripple effects of selfless service, and the core motivation fueling Andrea’s mission: “To engage a broken world with God’s generosity.” You won’t want to miss this insightful discussion. Tune in to be inspired!

To learn more about the podcast and Marcia Barnes’ book Here We Grow: The Marketing Formula to 10x Your Business and Transform Your Future, visit

Key Takeaways:

  • How You Can Make a Difference: Leaders often face vast challenges, but the key is to prioritize. By focusing on one task or individual at a time, leaders can make a tangible difference even in overwhelming situations, like confronting the enormity of global poverty.
  • Knowing Your Why: True leadership comes from a deep understanding of one’s purpose or “why” and every mission-driven effort should start there too.
  • Longevity and the Strength of Relationships: Strong relationships are an integral part of transformative leadership.
  • Personal Growth: “Businesses don’t grow, people do.” By prioritizing personal development, leaders can facilitate broader organizational progress and inspire others to do the same.

About Our Guest

Andrea East began working full- time with YWAM San Diego/Baja in 2010. The daughter of founders Sean and Janet Lambert, she has played an integral role in shaping and inspiring the Homes of Hope movement. Andrea provides ongoing

leadership for the Homes of Hope movement, as well as managing the development department. Andrea lives in Westfield, Indiana with her husband and three children.

Full Transcript



[0:00:04] Marcia Barnes: Regarding the work we do at Valve+Meter, I don’t take every deal that comes into the agency. I have a strategic area from which I select accounts and some things just don’t fit us. The same applies to giving. There is a certain strategy we’re going after. We don’t need to do everything, so we use criteria based on our values and the type of giving we want to do as a team, to consider whether to accept an opportunity.

I tried to focus on things that break cycles of poverty, addiction, and abuse because that is where my heart is. It’s where I came from. As a company, we aim to enable transformative growth. We bring all of this together and focus our tithing on organizations and projects that can help make real change in someone’s eye. If that means helping out a local homeless shelter or school, building homes, tutoring, or some other project that fits the intention we’ve defined for giving, we’ll consider it.

I’ve been involved with Youth With A Mission, Homes of Hope in the San Diego/Baja area of Mexico for more than a decade. Homes of Hope builds homes for the less fortunate with the help of teams from businesses, youth groups, churches, and other organizations. In two days’ time, they can build a house for someone who doesn’t have one. When you get there you typically see somebody living out of a makeshift structure they’ve built out of cardboard, tarpaulins, plastic bags, and whatever wood they can scrape together. I’ve seen families who have dug a hole in the ground and are covering themselves up at night with a tarpaulin. Within the two days you spent building a home there, you see a family transformed by generosity.

[0:01:50] ANNOUNCER: This is Here We Grow, a show for growth-minded leaders looking for transformational impact. True business leaders operate with a mindset of making a positive change in the world. In this episode of Here We Grow, we speak to Andrea East, Director of Advancement at Youth With A Mission. In their conversation, Andrea and Marcia recount several stories of the transformative power of faith and service, in both a business setting and across numerous mission trips.


[0:02:26] Marcia Barnes: So today, we have my good friend, Andrea East, joining us on the podcast. Welcome, Andrea.

[0:02:30] Andrea East: Thank you. So good to be here.

[0:02:31] Marcia Barnes: Good. Good. We are going to talk with Andrea today about missional businesses. Andrea is the Director of Development for Youth With A Mission San Diego/Baja Homes of Hope program, which we’ve enjoyed participating in as our family and the business as well over the years. And watching you basically grow up from a little girl into this leadership role. Tell us about what Homes of Hope is doing Andrea?

[0:02:58] Andrea East: Yes. Well, we love the way that your company and you guys have been a part, and you have seen me since a little girl. My parents started Homes of Hope. So, I’ve been doing this since I was about three years old. I actually, got to be a part of the first build with my dad who had met a man named Sergio Gomez. He was an ex-boxer and my dad was in Tijuana interested, how can we help the poor? How can we help the people in need here in this region? And Sergio said, “What the poor really need a stable housing.” And he encouraged my dad, kind of taught him the model and said, “If you look for a family who owns their own land, but doesn’t have the income to be able to build a shelter, and if you help them with that shelter, you’re going to change the trajectory of their life.”

So, he came to Mexico to do one house, brought me when I was three years old, and I fell in love with the family next door and said, “But Dad, are we going to build a house for that family too?” So, he couldn’t say no to his three-year-old daughter. He called up another team and said, “Please, I need you to come to Mexico and build a house for this family.” And that’s how Homes of Hope was born. That was 30-some-odd years ago, and I guess 33, I’m getting old. Thirty-three years ago, and we’ve done over 8,000 homes in 27 different nations since that point.

[0:04:12] Marcia Barnes: Wow, 27 nations, 8,000 homes. Because a little girl says, “Are we going to build a home for that one?”

[0:04:21] Andrea East: Yes, it’s pretty cool that I got to be a part of that. I want to just say one other thing about that, because I don’t want to take all the credit. Obviously, my parents did amazing work. But on that build, now that I’m older, and I have my own three-year-old child and my own husband, and I look at what happened on that build when my dad brought me down. I imagined that I was kind of abandoned as a three-year-old girl on the worksite. If you know my dad, you know that that is the case, and this lady that has living in a bus, that had crashed on the side of the hill, in extreme poverty must have taken me in, because I became friends with their kids. I remember going onto the bus and being a part of their family for a few days.

So, I did have an impact on that second Home of Hope, but it was really, what I like to say, it was really Maria who had a heart of hospitality and said, “If I don’t take care of this girl, probably nobody will.” That’s really why Homes of Hope was started, I think, because of the hospitality of a woman that was living in poverty.

[0:05:20] Marcia Barnes: That’s fantastic. Did she get a home?

[0:05:23] Andrea East: She got a home. She got the second Home of Hope. That was the family.

[0:05:25] Marcia Barnes: That’s lovely.

Now, you have a metaphor you use that describes how the ministry works and what its cause is. Why don’t you share that with us?

[0:05:42] Andrea East: Yes, we love to tell the starfish story as a really good example. So, the story goes that there was a young boy walking along the beach, after a large storm had crossed. He’s walking and he notices that there’s thousands of starfish lying along the shore. They’ve been washed up. So, he bends down, he picks up a starfish, he throws it back in the water. As he’s doing this, an adult, walks down to the beach and says, “Son, what are you doing?” He said, “Well, I’m throwing the starfish back into the water.” And he says, “There’s thousands of starfish. How could you possibly make a difference?” And he picks up a starfish, looks at it, throws it back into the water and said, “It matters to this one.”

A lot of times when we look at global poverty, especially if you want to look at it on a global scale, it’s overwhelming. How could you possibly make a difference? And that paralyzes us. But as a ministry, we want to be like that little boy and pick up one more and say, “Well, it matters to this one.” So, that’s why we keep going.

[0:06:40] Marcia Barnes: Wow. It’s impressive work and having participated in it for many years. It’s overwhelming, the impact that it’s having. So, we’re in poverty-stricken parts of Mexico, we’re building homes. Why is it important for folks to have a home in Mexico?

[0:06:58] Andrea East: Yes. Well, the communities where we build in are largely communities where people have immigrated or migrated into that area. A lot of times because of just extreme desperation in Southern Mexico, Central America. So, they come to Tijuana, Ensenada, there’s actually jobs in those regions. So, they’ll come with the hope of a better life, but then they get here and they have no family system that would back them up. They don’t have grandparents they can live with. They don’t have a community of people that they know. So, they’re really left alone, but they want to be in a stable community.

Every time we build a home for one family, we’re creating a unit of stability in that community, so that they can then grow and flourish and do the hard work of pulling themselves out of poverty. And it’s been really cool to see, year after year, when you go back and visit a family. The first time you go back to visit and maybe say three months out, maybe they’ve got a refrigerator, that means they can store their food longer, it means they’ve got electricity, it means they’re slowly doing better. Then, maybe the next time they’ve put tile on the floor, they have built a bathroom onto the side, but their lives keep getting better and better. The house that we give them is just a really cool starting point.

[0:08:15] Marcia Barnes: It’s awesome. Prior to them being in that house, most of them are living on dirt. So, there’s health issues, right?

[0:08:21] Andrea East: Yes. We’ve been able to see some really cool studies on the five benefits of a home. And one of those benefits, like you mentioned, is health. This is probably the most fascinating to me. But when you’re living on a dirt floor, you have your incidence of asthma goes through the roof, because you’re always breathing in dirt. But then what you’re also doing is you’re ingesting dirt with your food. So, diarrhea goes up.

So, you look at someone living in poverty, on a dirt floor with no ventilation, they have asthma, and they’re constantly dehydrated from diarrhea. Now, tell that person, you go work a 12-hour hard labor job, or try and go to school and learn in spite of your poverty and flourish in life. I mean, none of us flourish when we’re thirsty. So, when we build a home for a family, and we’re just putting in a cement floor and windows for ventilation, completely changes their health trajectory.

We once had a mom who said, “I always thought my husband was lazy, because he would miss so much work. And then we got to this home, and it’s been six months, and he hasn’t missed a day of work.” She realized he was just really sick. That’s one of the benefits we like to talk about. And some other things that we’ve seen through just global housing studies is that someone who receives a home is three times more likely to stay in school, and they’ll stay on average two years longer. So, that’s giving the kids a push forward in their education, which we all know is so important and valuable.

Then, you look at economically, of course, the homes that we build would take about 10 years of savings for these families to be able to replicate. So, we’re able to give that to them in a two-day period, and then, for the next 10 years, all of that excess money that they’re able to save can go to other investments into their family, and their health, and their work. Then, you look at the emotional impact, which is a little bit harder to quantify. But I just was watching a video we’re making about a family who the little kids after the dedication said, “Mom, I can’t wait till school starts again. Because now we can invite our teacher over to see our house.” The pride of homeownership really impacts the family and that I’ll have a cool story, tell me in a second, I’ll tell you the story of Esperanza that really ties into that.

But the fifth impact that we really value is that there’s a spiritual impact, because we do this in the name of Jesus. We want every family to know that, whether they’re Christian or whether they’re not Christian, that doesn’t matter. But what we want them to know is that there’s a God who loves them, and cares about them, and desires good things for them. And that’s what we always communicate as we build.

[0:11:00] Marcia Barnes: The purpose of the organization is stated as, “Engaging a broken world and God’s generosity.”

[0:11:06] Andrea East: Awesome. Yes. That’s our why, to engage a broken world with God’s generosity.

[0:11:12] Marcia Barnes: You folks are all in. It’s hard work and it’s very impressive to see, and so it’s important to know where that’s coming from and your why. That’s great.

Tell us, Esperanza. I think, hearing it –

[0:11:31] Andrea East: Yes. This one of my favorite stories. I think it was probably about 15 years ago that the story started, and the government actually reached out to our ministry, the local government there in Tijuana and said, “We have a family that is in such desperate need. If you’re not able to build for them, we’re going to have to remove the children from their parents, because their living situation was so difficult.” They told us that the reason the government stepped in is because the 14-year-old daughter, whose name is Esperanza, which means hope in English. She had attempted to commit suicide just a few weeks before. She had told her parents, “I just thought it’d be easier to feed the family if I wasn’t here.”

She was one of five. They were splitting a little packet of Top Ramen every night for dinner. That was all they could afford.

[0:12:22] Marcia Barnes: Five people, one packet?

[0:12:23] Andrea East: Five kids, my family of seven. So, when we stepped in, it was a really difficult situation, and a family that’s living like that, the mom and dad are not necessarily thriving from the beginning. The children were sick. It was really hard to see them in those conditions. So, we had a team, actually, a local team here from Indy, a business here, came down, built their home. It was such a cool experience, because it was just this radical lifesaving transformation.

I remember going back just a few weeks after we finished their home, and the littlest boy in the family, he was two at the time, had had just horrible red blisters all over his face from sun exposure. We go back and he just had like baby-soft cheeks, like you would expect from a two-year-old. You can see that the family began to thrive. We helped the mom start a tamale business, and we really wanted to wrap our arms around this family. We loved them. I loved them. I visited quite often. But about six months in, the story took a turn and we go to visit them, and the neighbors tell us well they’ve sold their house and left town. It wasn’t like, “Oh, we’re moving on to something better”, because we allow our families to sell the house. It’s their house. It’s a gift. But this was, they owed a debt to a drug lord and needed to get out of town.

[0:13:50] Marcia Barnes: Oh, my goodness.

[0:13:53] Andrea East: It was devastating. Because when you serve, you always want to see a good result. You don’t want to know or you don’t want to see that sometimes humans make bad decisions, and we still serve, because they’re still worth it, even when that happens. But it was a difficult situation. We could never get a hold of them and I tried really hard because I really, really loved Esperanza.

Well, fast forward like 10 years and Esperanza comes to our campus where we are, and this was just as the peak of COVID was going away. So, we hadn’t been building for several months, and the campus was basically closed down. I was in Indiana, here, and Esperanza meets up with my mom who was there on the campus and said, “I really want to talk to Andrea.” I don’t know who this is. I’m FaceTiming this young, beautiful Mexican woman on the phone. She pulls out a picture of the team that built for her, and that’s how I finally recognized her, and remembered, it jogged my memory.

She said, “I just had to come and thank you.” She said, “I was so ashamed when my family sold the home that you gave to us, and I couldn’t believe that they had done that. But every time I struggled in my life, every time I wanted to give up, every time I thought I wasn’t good enough, I would look at this picture, of this team of people that came to build my home, and I would know that I should keep fighting and that I should keep going. Because all of them believed in me.” She later told us that she was just about to graduate from nursing school, which is just like a miracle, for this girl who probably would have never finished middle school.

Now, fast forward, she’s graduated from nursing school, she’s thriving, doing so well, and it wasn’t the material shelter of the home that changed her life. It was the team that came.

[0:15:44] Marcia Barnes: The act of generosity, right?

[0:15:46] Andrea East: The act of generosity, the act of I see you, I care about you. This is not what God has for you. He has something better, and she clung to that and believed it. That’s what I think, with Homes of Hope, I have this kind of thought about it that so many times we define the poor by their lack, what they don’t have, instead of defining them by their potential and what God has created them for. The way my dad likes to say it is, you see the poor, I see an army. But we want to see those who are living in poverty, be given the tools that they need to rise up, and change their communities.

Actually, 26 of our staff grew up in a Home of Hope house and are working now full time with us and doing that. But even thousands more have received a home and I’ve really taken up the charge to do something for their community. It made me think of – I loved reading your book. I laughed and I cried, and I was challenged and encouraged. But there’s this one line, which I’m sure you have burned into you much more than I do. But you say here, “The day I lost just about everything and found myself on my knees crying in my living room and holding my baby changed everything. I was able to quiet my mind long enough to hear what God had been trying to tell me all my life. I am strong, I am capable, and I have all the tools I will ever need to do the work he put me on this planet to accomplish.”

What a beautiful truth that you learned that not, in your greatest success, but in your greatest failure moment, or your greatest trial. I see that for our families as well. That through the adversity that they’ve lived, God has been raising them up and blessing them, and this material gift of a home is just a part of releasing them into what he has for them.

[0:17:38] Marcia Barnes: The fundamental difference of what I had in that moment to what a lot of folks miss, is I knew I was created for more than that.

[0:17:46] Andrea East: Yes. You had that truth.

[0:17:49] Marcia Barnes: Most people don’t think they’ve got what it takes, right? But I knew that part. I just didn’t know why it kept breaking, which was because I wasn’t looking to God for it. So then, I can see where that’s very true of the folks you’re encountering as well.

It’s interesting that it took so long for that story to redeem itself with you too. I know you’re not attached to the outcome. So many people get attached to when they give, they’re expecting this thing to be this certain way, and you just have to release attachment to it. But the story got redeemed after 10 years went by, right? And this person shows back breathing new joy into you.

[0:18:34] Andrea East: Totally, and the timing was so of the Lord, because the next day we were scheduled to build our first house post-COVID. There was several people on our staff who were very concerned like, “Is it worth it to go back in the community if we could spread sickness?” Which is a valid concern, like there’s a risk. And Esperanza stepping onto our campus galvanized all of us to realize like, “It is 100% worth it to make the impact that we’re making, so that future generations don’t have to grow up the same way.” Yes, she was a real directional piece for us to take up the charge again.

[0:19:24] Marcia Barnes: I’ve worked with other missionaries, other clergy, other pastors over the years. You guys work so hard. You, your staff, your parents, the leaders there. You are so in love with the work and the calling that God’s put on your life. Where does that energy come from? You leave it all on the floor, right? It’s commendable. Sometimes I worry that you don’t rest enough. But how is it that this ministry, not just in you, it’s not just your dad, it’s not just your mom. It’s hundreds of missionaries who are working on this cause, both in the Baja Peninsula and the other posts that you’ve commissioned as well out of Homes of Hope. What is it that’s triggering that?

[0:20:07] Andrea East: Yes. I mean, I think I can say a million things right now. But the one that’s coming to my mind is really the strong relationship. So, your relationship to the Lord where he is communicating to you, like it’s worth it. The things that you don’t always see, the fruit that you want to see right away. But then God communicates its worth that through people like Esperanza or like, he’ll give us those stories that help give us the energy to keep going. But relationships – so relationship with God, but relationship with each other. Our staff are really tight-knit, and we care for each other. If one person has a medical need, and they can’t cover the cost, everybody donates. I’ve had people come, they’re just blown away, like, how do you all live in such a way that one person doesn’t have enough, they don’t have to worry, because we’ll take care of it.

So, as a staff, we really take care of each other. And then we have such a strong relationship with the teams, and a bond with those who come and serve alongside of us, and give that new fresh breath of air. I think if we were trying to build all the houses by ourselves as a staff, we would burn out really quickly. But because every weekend, we have more people coming and relationships that don’t just last on the weekend, but then you become friends and you knit your lives together with other people who are championing you, and I think that really gives us longevity.

[0:21:31] Marcia Barnes: Right. Your team is people from all different countries. Now, have quite a few Mexican foreign missionaries that are involved as well. In doing this, as long as I’ve been doing it, the last 15 years with you folks, my encounter, folks when they first land in the ministry. And now, I’ve been walking alongside of them for 15 years, and they’re growing up and getting married and having babies and starting other adjacent ministries to Homes of Hope. But like [inaudible 0:21:58] and Amanda. [Inaudible 0:22:01] was on my build team back in 2008, I think, and my boys just really liked him a lot, and connected with him as we would revisit. Now, they’re running Hope Zone in Tijuana.

[0:22:14] Andrea East: Yes. Hope Zone is just so cool. So, they chose the hardest and darkest corner of the red-light district in Tijuana, which is the largest red-light district in North America, and they started with prayer walks, and they said, “Lord, what can we do?” On one of those prayer walks, they met a young mom who was actually selling her daughter into prostitution, just a very young child. That encounter is what led them to start a ministry first for children, to help encourage them to choose a lifestyle that would be a safe one in their adulthood. So, it was a preventative ministry.

Then that grew, and the mom started saying, “Well, do you have anything for us?” Then, the dads were like, “Well, what about us?” So, now they have an entire family ministry just focused on being a light in that community, and they’re working on building a community center, which will be so awesome, so that they can do just more in-depth training and teaching and education. Right now, it’s all outside, just an open area.

[0:23:15] Marcia Barnes: Wow, incredible ministry. Oscar and Kirsty. Another couple of young folks we met on my first build. They were both assigned to the build, and I just was kind of watching between them at the time. I said to Kirsty, “Is that your boyfriend?” And she goes, “No.” And I go, “Not yet.” And sure enough, now they’re married and they have five kids, four or five kids?

[0:23:38] Andrea East: Four. Yes. Just had their fourth little baby.

[0:23:42] Marcia Barnes: Yes. One of the things that’s been great with working with them. We would send them support. But they also prayed for us, and we’re actively involved in our lives as well. Oscar, I think, has done an incredible piece of work with noticing the young kids that were skipping school, and they needed something to do. So, he invited them into his woodworking shop that he had and trained them to do woodworking.

[0:24:09] Andrea East: Yes, so Oscar, I mean, really brilliant what he’s done, but he’s engaged all these young adults to come and build simple cabinetry. Then, he sells that cabinetry to the teams who come to build homes, and they can put them in the home, and then he’s able to use that money to increase their ministry and cover the expense of bringing the kids to the shop, and all of the tools. Even he just brought a group of those kids to Costa Rica to serve with the Homes the Hope team in Costa Rica.

[0:24:40] Marcia Barnes: That’s awesome.

[0:24:41] Andrea East: The Homes of Hope team there was like, we never had this vision for our young people that they would be the missionaries, and that they would go and serve and do. So, I think it was a real a real big inspirational thing for them. But Kirsty and Oscar have put it all on the line and given their hearts and their lives to a lot of communities, but one in particular, and they’re actually are starting a community center there now. So, they’ll be closer rather than bringing people to the campus. But so beautiful to begin to see the fruit of that.

[0:25:14] Marcia Barnes: And boys not going to school and not having anything to do is a recipe for a quick trip into drugs or some sort of nonsense, right?

[0:25:21] Andrea East: Yes. And they just become so vulnerable to the cartels who are always recruiting young men who don’t have a lot to lose.

[0:25:28] Marcia Barnes: Yes. So, in exchange, they get encouragement from fascinating adults, and just wonderful engagement there. But they also are taught of a vocation that they can lean on in the future too.

[0:25:40] Andrea East: Yes. Even beyond something that’s been so interesting to me recently is the idea of soft skills and beyond, maybe they won’t be a carpenter, but they’ll know how to arrive on time, take simple criticism, follow through with what they said they’re going to do, and those sorts of things are not being developed very well in a lot of these impoverished communities, because people are just surviving. So, I think that’s kind of a gift that we don’t even realize how big it is.

[0:26:09] Marcia Barnes: It’s remarkable. So, over the years, I’ll be going next month on my 21st build with your team. My family has gone and just had an extraordinary impact on my children. They’re looking forward to going again. Cody, my daughter-in-law is seven months pregnant, so it’s going to be a minute before she’ll be able to go. But both boys just had, and Cody had incredible experiences there that deepen their faith, and show them what poverty really looks like, and their values really improved a lot after having that experience.

I’ve led lots of business people down there, and over the years, taken teams from the businesses. In recent years, I have taken other businesses down for some of your events. Worked on the board there, supported missionaries. But the deepening of my faith in a place that I’ve gone to serve, there is no place else that works that way for me. That coming and helping and volunteering, I learned something new about God or God’s relationship with me every time.

[0:27:09] Andrea East: Yes. You really connect to God in a unique way through service, because you’re literally being his hands and feet. Even people who don’t know the Lord will come back being like, that was the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had.

[0:27:27] Marcia Barnes: We recently just sent our first build team out from Valve+Meter to build a home. I also know Custom Concrete sent a team. They were on the President’s build last year and they took a team of their employees, about three months ago, I think. They had some interesting things happen on their trip and really, really moved them and came in – a couple of their team members came in and shared with us here at Valve+Meter. Do you want to talk about what happened with them?

[0:27:54] Andrea East: Yes. I love this story, because not only is it a cool story, but it came from the mouth of the sweetest 12-year-old boy you’ve ever met. But on Marcia’s good advice, I asked him to share to a group of people that we are inviting to a fundraiser. So, Nolan comes up to share his experience with Homes of Hope, and he’s talking about the things that he saw while he was there, like really articulate young man, I’m thinking this whole time. But he ends with this story about a young man named Javi. Javi was a little neighbor kid, where they were building out in the community. And Javi came that first day and stayed with them and worked with them and fell in love with the team, and the team fell in love with Javi.

As they were driving away, they looked and they saw that Javi was kind of off to the side, with his hands in his face weeping. So, they pull the van over and the team leader gets out, and tries to talk to him and encourage him, and all of them are just gutted. I mean, they’ve had this wonderful experience. They’ve given a family a home, it’s been beautiful, but what about Javi? So, Nolan says that he and his dad just kept thinking like, what if Javi is the starfish that we couldn’t get? Going back to the story that I told at the beginning of the starfish, like, what if Javi’s the starfish that got away? They sat with that for quite a while until just a few minutes before Nolan shared with us, with our group. He and his dad realized, what if I was the starfish and Javi threw me back in the water?

What they meant by that is, because of that encounter with Javi, and the way that they loved him, they have this new deep desire to continue to serve, and to continue to go, and continue to bring transformation in people’s lives, that they would have never had had they not had that beautiful relationship with Javi. So, Javi has given them a gift that, I think, will lead to some really beautiful things in the future, and I think that’s why our ministry is so cool because it’s not just about, I went to build a house for you. But you go and you learn, and you grow and you experience something and you come closer to God and everyone benefits.

[0:30:11] Marcia Barnes: Yes. Knowing Chris, Nolan’s dad, there’s also an important part of that. Their team and they had their eyes wide open, right? They weren’t just looking at we’re building a house, they were paying attention to what was going on around them, and engaging the Javis, and the family members, and your team as well. Just incredible to see. I mean, I know what I’ve experienced through your ministry, but when I see others multiplying, it always gives me a great deal of joy.

[0:30:39] Andrea East: Yes, totally.

[0:30:50] Marcia Barnes: So, on our podcast, typically, I ask at the end of the podcast, we value in the book and here at Valve+Meter, transformation, of seeing a noticeable change in substance or form. So, I always ask people can you share with me, you work in everything you’re doing is in transformation. But if you could share with me a time when you’ve seen something transform in someone.

[0:31:13] Andrea East: Yes, for sure. I think I’d love to share a story of when I felt the transformation in my life, and it was with you, Marcia. Many years ago, I got invited to a conference. It’s what it’s called, I guess, a convention, that Defenders was running for their employees. So, Defenders brought over 5,000 employees and families to build homes. Is that number correct? I think, yes. Just became an incredible part of the Homes of Hope culture, but it also became an incredible part of the Defenders culture.

So, I was hosting a booth at a convention one year. I met my husband there. So, it was a pretty good year for me.

[0:31:48] Marcia Barnes: Oh, that is a good year. I didn’t realize that.

[0:31:52] Andrea East: But something else brought that transformation that day, and I went into the convention and you were on stage, Marcia, and you were sharing, going through a series that you had done with your staff on bringing transformation in their own lives. It’s something that you mentioned in the book that was really a catalyst for you, of focusing on growing yourself more than growing your business. I think you guys then, Defenders and coined the phrase, “Businesses don’t grow, people do.” That phrase, in turn really transformed our ministry, because we began applying that to the missionaries, how can we grow our staff and invest in them?

But on this particular day, this was before all that happened, I believe, and you were up on the stage, sharing with staff who had seen transformation in their lives, because of a good decision they made and you were encouraging them. There was this anointing on you, like I had never seen before. You were this amazing missionary in a field that nobody else could reach but you. You are the CEO of this huge company. It’s so successful doing really well. But the focus is not on that success. It wasn’t about how cool you were, even though at that moment, I was like, “Oh my gosh, she’s so cool.” I want to know her. But the focus was on what is the Lord doing in the lives of my employees? Really, it was a holy moment. I sat there as a missionary thinking like, I never realized how amazing the mission field is for a business leader, and to see you in leading in such a beautiful way, in that way, as a strong woman of God, really encouraged me and in my own growth, in my own leadership that more than what I believed is possible, is possible. And the impact that you were able to have just because of your yes, was so cool to see.

[0:33:44] Marcia Barnes: Thank you, Andrea. That’s very kind. And it’s a reminder that you always have to make sure you’re doing something good when others are watching, because here’s this young lady watching in the room and getting an impact that I wouldn’t have seen, otherwise.

What we were doing in that event was transformation is a here to there, type of story. You were here and you went there. So, we challenged the team in the months leading up to the convention to compete in producing their here to there story. They could pick any type of thing they were going to work on. There were a lot of folks that selected weight loss. There were folks who selected things like keeping my blood sugar at the correct amount. There were folks that became debt-free. There were folks who were going through training, or like going back to school, or taking a course or something like that. And then they wrote about what they had done, and if they were selected as a finalist, we sent them on a shopping spree and got them a personal stylist and sent them to [inaudible 0:34:45]. David’s come to build homes with you before, so he would take care of their hair and their makeup as needed. So, they got a new wardrobe and they got made up, and then they had their before picture and their after picture, and they were telling their story of what had happened with them.

[0:35:00] Andrea East: Oh, yes.

[0:35:01] Marcia Barnes: I mean, there were folks that had lost 100 pounds, got rid of $200,000 of debt that they had. It was the non-work goal. Not how much money you’re going to make or promotion, but what are you doing to work on yourself?

[0:35:15] Andrea East: And just the way that you celebrated people in that moment, was what really impacted me of just like the ministry that we can have just by simply celebrating other people and championing what God is doing in their life. It doesn’t matter what platform you’re on.

[0:35:33] Marcia Barnes: It’s that focus of the potential and not the lack. I mean, the thing that was touching me, I think, that you might have observed from your seat was the way they carried themselves when they came out on stage. You couldn’t even recognize some of these people. I’m like, “Is that Loretta?” And she was just gorgeous. But it was the way she was walking, with just such confidence. Allan, and I guess, remember all those people. Allan and Bobby and Susie and all the rest. But yes, it was incredible to read what they had written and what had happened to them, too, and the evidence of it. It was cool.

So, Andrea, obviously, I’ve been talking about the ways that I’ve participated, and you have folks coming to you all the time to experience this. What’s the best thing to do if someone’s listening today, and they want to find out more about Homes of Hope, and talk with someone about maybe going on a build or supporting the ministry financially? How should they reach out?

[0:36:38] Andrea East: Yes. Well, I mean, a great way to start is on our website. So, that’s, and then you can choose Homes of Hope as one of the ministries that we do. You can see there, you can watch videos, you can see more about who we are, and then the best way to come is to come and build a home and experience with us. You got to do that with a team. So, we don’t really take individuals, especially if you’re an indie. I mean, churches, groups, companies, we’re hosting people all the time.

We would be totally happy to connect you with someone in your area who’s already arranging a trip. You can tag along with them and experience it. And then the people who come the most often are the ones who say, “I’m going to figure out every group of people I know in my life, and I’m going to drag them to Mexico with me, and we’re going to build a house together.” So, we’ve had Boy Scout groups. We’ve had sports teams. We have churches. We have Bible study fellowships. We have any sort of group, you name it, of about 15 people, or more, can come and build a house. The way that we operate, we have the teams cover all their own travel expenses, and the cost of the home, and we take care of all the rest. So, we have all the tools there, we pick you up in buses, and you stay with us on our campus, we cook all the food for you. We take care of everything. All you have to do is show up and have a current passport.

[0:38:06] Marcia Barnes: The campus is absolutely gorgeous, and the hospitality is off the charts. The food is lovely. You’ll be a little bit embarrassed that you feel like you’re kind of maybe at a resort, and on a mission trip.

[0:38:19] Andrea East: We do like to make it a low barrier. There’s some people who do it and other ministries, you stay in a tent, you bring your own food, you purify your own water with one of those straws. That’s great. But it’s not necessarily our target market. We want to be, we call it full-service missions. But we want people to be able to jump off the plane, be comfortable, because the focus needs to be on serving and loving, not on how much you can rough it. So, if you want to rough it, you can go on a camping trip later. But this is really, so that all your focus and energy can be on building relationships with the family, with the people you came with, with our staff, and really blessing somebody else.


[0:39:03] Marcia Barnes: Great. I highly encourage it. If you have any questions, you can ask me about it too.

[0:39:08] Andrea East: Yes. You can send an email. We can put it in the comments of this podcast, but gets directly to me, and I happy to answer questions and help connect you.

[0:39:18] Marcia Barnes: Fantastic. Thank you, Andrea, for joining us today.

[0:39:21] Andrea East: Thank you.


[0:39:24] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for joining us for Here We Grow. This show is proudly brought to you by Valve+Meter Performance Marketing. Be sure to check out the show notes for exclusive content that will help you become a transformational leader. For more visit,