Merle gets stuff done. If you’ve ever been on a build trip with 1MISSION, Merle Yochim has done the heavy lifting to make that trip possible. From start to finish, she does it all.
In this Q&A, Merle tells us about her first experience in the barrios of Mexico, what keeps her focused and encouraged, and even shares some rural Canadian survival tips.
Tell us about your first time visiting the communities we serve in Puerto Peñasco.
It was 2002. We had recently moved from Alberta to the Arizona desert, and went searching for water! We camped with our kids on the beach, tried the local cuisine, and did some exploring in the barrios. That was our first exposure to the living conditions in this community, and it definitely made an impact on us. We also learned the value of perspective, however, as one of our son’s impressions of what he saw out the window was “a lot of cool stuff to build forts with!”
Now that it’s October, trips season is kicking into high gear. And this fall you’re organizing build trips for 2,200 people who will build something like 80 houses. What’s your secret for staying sane?
This time of year definitely puts the most pressure on me, but keeping my perspective certainly helps! I have the opportunity to spend the trip season working in the community, getting to know the families, watching them get engaged and excited about their new opportunities. All of this helps me to stay focused on why we are here.
Our team and staff in Puerto Peñasco work hard to keep me sane too! I love being with them. I feel supported by them and am constantly encouraged by their commitment to their own community. The occasional evening in town with my husband, enjoying a great dinner with an ocean view helps too!
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is definitely the fact that I get to be face to face with the families we are working with, learning from them, and getting to know them. So many women in the community have become my heroes!
Not everybody knows this, but you grew up on a farm in a remote corner of Canada. How did you keep your feet warm?
Yes, I grew up in northern Alberta! The winters were long and as kids we were excited when the snow started melting because it meant we could once again run around barefoot. Sometimes we pushed the limit a bit and our wee toes would get pretty frosty. Fortunately, there were plenty of warm, steamy piles laying in the cow pasture that provided a great place to warm our toes right back up again! Pretty ingenious, eh?
Want to learn more about our team members? Meet them here.