Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday looked very similar for most of us. The sun rises early, and sets early, so getting up and going was imperitive due to the heat. To be honest, this girl can sleep LATE but the heat inside our building became so suffocating so quickly, I had no qualms getting up and going at such an early time of day. While hot and humid outside, at least there was a breeze!
Most of the time, the meeting room was busy with people by 6am with breakfast officially at 630am, if I remember right. It was early, whatever it was. Since I couldn’t eat 99.9% of the breakfast options, I laid in bed until I couldn’t stand it any longer and ate a granola bar instead.
The men in our group that were doing the most physical work were typically out there by 6:30am. The rest of us were going by 7am at the latest.
Even during the summer, the kids all attended school so only the preschoolers were around – and they were in the girls building with a Tia. So, all of us were committed to doing a construction related task until 12:30 each day (or 5.5-6 hours).
The biggest task of the week was getting started on a second girl’s building. This project started with digging trenches for the foundation.
While the trenches were being dug, several of us worked on drilling holes into pipes for a new sewer system
Following lunch, those who came specifically to work on construction projects, headed back out to finish the jobs before the sun went down. The rest of us got about an hour break before the kids got out of school and it was time to do activities with them.
We split the kids into three groups and they rotated between recreation, music, and Bible story. Matt, our youth minister, headed up recreation; David, our music minister, headed up music; and I did the Bible story. We had the rest of the team sign up to help one of the groups and I had several awesome people work with me.
I focused on the story of Daniel, which they all probably knew better than I did! The language barrier was a challenge – esp since some of them claim to not know English just to trick you. I quickly learned that games were not going to work, but creative activities were key! Boys and girls alike were immediately drawn to the craft supplies (which you had to hide behind your back until it was time to pass them out) and they took their work seriously.
In the chaos of the afternoons, I didn’t take a single picture of that time!
Immediately following the afternoon rotation on Monday, a thunderstorm rolled in. And when I say rolled in, I mean came crashing in like a toddler who just discovered the pots and pans. Crazy thunder and lightning right on top of us, heavy rain, and minor flooding in the building.
The construction guys ran to the mission house for cover as we all watched the trenches they had dug for 10 hours now quickly fill with water.
Never skipping a beat, the guys put together a plan to remove the water and got out there bright and early the next day, dressed ready to play in the mud. A good ol’ fashioned bucket brigade was started:
Two of the ladies decided the trenches looked perfect for a boat race!
This guy, standing in the trench, is our pastor. Talk about a pastor who embraces the true meaning of servant leadership! Bobby not only volunteered to sleep in the very WORST accomodation, but he was also on the site first and finishing last – all with a smile on his face. He rarely took a break and never asked for special privileges along the way. I was truly blown away.
There is a main road running right through the children’s home property, which was where the water got tossed:
While the water removal was going on, I helped with some metal working. Construction in Honduras is totally different than here, obviously. The foundation is a mix of rock and concrete and the walls/roof are held up by a mix of metal frames, rocks, and concrete. We worked on constructing the metal frames, which looked like this when finished:
You can’t really see them… but there are thin metal ties holding things together. I cut those – for a long time. Hundreds of them. With rusty wire cutters 🙂 Even though my hand was blistered and cramped by the end, it was so nice to have a simple job to do alongside others that ultimately helped get the project done.
Another project our group did was relocate a playground. It was originally constructed behind one of the boys houses but due to it’s location down the road, the preschoolers couldn’t play on it. So, guys from our group took it down, didn’t lose any of the pieces in the process, and rebuilt it outside the girls house, where the preschoolers all stayed during the day.
The kids were so thrilled to just have slides on the ground to sit on! It’s hard to tell in the picture, but Sandra is “reading” to the rest of them from a picture book.
This was covered in children the rest of the week – and how great to have a child friendly structure for them to play on all day!
A big part of the foundation includes rocks. You don’t call the rock yard and have a truck dump a load out for you. Oh no, that would be WAY too American (and easy!). You do it the Hondurian way: you go right to the source.
Each day, a crew would literally dig in the creek for usable rocks. On Wednesday, I did this alongside Haley, Lauren, and Marie. I was not interested in touching the water if at all possible so I tried to be super careful. The creek wasn’t one you’d choose to climb into… but it was shady and fairly cool down there so the job (other than the water) wasn’t bad at all.
However, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be a dainty dry job. If I wanted to pull my weight in the group, and not look like a big weenie, I was going to have to embrace the ick. Which meant standing in the creek (sneakers, socks, and all) and digging up rocks with my bare hands.
One of our group members drove a small bulldozer down into the creek to collect loads of rocks from us and returned them to the construction site.
None of us brought our stuff down to the creek so we didn’t get any pictures of us in the water. Let’s just say that my sneakers were left in Honduras…
By the end of the week, it was all hands on deck at the construction site. The rock/concrete foundation was being laid, the metal pieces were put into place, and it finally started to resemble… something.
When the kids finished with school, the construction site became their playground! But instead of just being in the way, they took it upon themselves to help carry the rocks over and put them down in the trenches for the foundation.
The cows were not as helpful as the kids were.
Christopher was my buddy that particular afternoon. He saw the older kids filling their shirts with rocks and had to join in on the fun:
Isn’t that the darn cutest thing you’ve ever seen?
Some of the older kids realized that the people working the concrete maker could use a hand in getting the pile of dirt moved closer so they worked non-stop shoveling.
Members of our group worked on a few other projects, like digging fence post holes, compiling food brigade bags, and organizing shoes that had been donated. Regardless of their ability, everyone in the group found a job to do, did it with a smile, and put all their effort into it.
By the end of the week, we felt really accomplished – especially the guys on our construction team. They felt good about the progress on the new house and we are all anxious to see the work that is done in coming weeks by other teams.