Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Today we sweated. It was hot, winds were calm, and the work was steady
So far, we have poured eight concrete floors, put on one roof, and built two latrines for outhouses. Each day, we continue to go to the school and teach the children in the morning and have adult Bible study in the afternoon. And everywhere, we sweat. Today didn’t have the afternoon rain we had yesterday so relief never came. Some work sites were stifling hot. One would think that would make our two hour ride home aromatic, but we are too busy being distracted by the beautiful scenery all around as well as the heavy dust blowing in the windows.
Tonight at evening devotions, team members shared their individual highs and lows so far. For lows, several mentioned not feeling great and a few didn’t feel like they contributed meaningfully to the work of their worksite. For me, I felt like I rushed into this day’s work without taking time to properly meet the people from the village with whom I worked on the sites. For highs, almost everyone had a variation of the same thing: we connected with the people. In spite of cultural, economic, and language barriers, the best part of this trip has been connecting with people. That includes connecting with people on this team. It is Gene, Barry, Ike, Heather, and I playing Frisbee and soccer with the children. It is Barry and one of the people of the village changing hats—Barry gave up his visor in exchange for the corner of a concrete bag that would give Earle Brown’s (St. Andrews’ treasurer) hats a run for their money. It is Kitti reading stories in both English and Spanish to the people at her site which helped them learn English and her pronounce Spanish. It’s the team laughing together as we process the day’s work. So today was about sweat, but really it was about going to the next level in building relationships.
At another level, the best part of this trip is seeing Christ at work. Tonight’s devotional theme was from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi where Paul reminds them that in good times and bad, he knows he can do all things in Christ who gives him strength. We have experienced that here. Weary from long trips to and from La Balsa, sore from heavy lifting and shoveling, and not feeling well for various reasons, Christ is strengthening this group. I anticipate Christ’s strength here in our moments of need will be present beyond this trip as well. We will look back and remember it, as I hope you will look for it even now.
After lunch today, we handed out a suitcase full of blankets for newborns and medicines for the villagers. They will be stored in the clinic. The blankets were made by the St. Andrews and Palm Harbor Presbyterian Women. The St. Andrews Presbyterian Women also made school bags for the children this year. All were big hits with the villagers. The nurse at the clinic will hand out the layettes. Most of the school bags were handed out the first day. The children strolled proudly out of school with their new bags on their shoulders.
I mentioned that several weren’t feeling well today. Some have been a bit tenuous in the stomach. No one bad enough to be incapacitated, but several feel queasy in the stomach. Overall, the food has been good. In fact, the chicken last night was fabulous. However, we packed what amounted to two suitcases full of snacks “just in case.” Tonight was a “just in case” night for me. The ranch served spaghetti, which is one of my least favorite dish in the U.S. In 2008, I had the ranch spaghetti and it was, well, bad. So tonight I ate at The Suitcases restaurant and had the fine cuisine of beef jerky, Cheetos, Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies, and a Sprite. Some said the spaghetti was good, but I wasn’t going to risk it. Other than that, the food has been good. Rice, tortillas, and refried beans are a constant staple and each is good. Lunch has been sandwiches and chips (local variety). I don’t eat much for breakfast back home and I’ve kept that up here, but I have had some of the fruit they served. We are grateful to the staff at the ranch who are working hard to accommodate our needs.
Tomorrow, we get at it again. Breakfast is at 6:30 am, morning prayer is at 7:10 am, and departure is at 7:30 am. That puts us in La Balsa at 9:30 am.
Time to go send this and hit the hay. Just so you know, sending this daily entry means walking to a far cabin on the ranch. On Monday when I walked over there, a horse was standing on the sidewalk, cows mooed about in the field as they are now, a pig walked by, several chickens clucked nearby, frogs the size of cats hopped around on the porch, and bugs saw me as a human buffet (I learned my lesson and will put on some deep woods bug spray before sending). Ahh, life on a ranch.
God loves you… and so do I. I’m looking forward to being with you this Sunday morning.