Monday, October 19, 2009
All in all its just another rock in the wall
We helped the Church work on their fence/retaining wall yesterday. It was plenty of work...probably not North American efficient, but with some thought control on that front, everyone worked quite a bit.
The skies were darker, no sarcasm, with overcast skies, and cold temperatures. Cold being subjective of course given that these temps in December in the mid-west US would be considered a heat wave. But people here care little to talk much about it...after all, the weather is more of a conversation starter for people from the USA. It was glorious for working outside with concrete and moving rocks, and that was all that really mattered. At this rate, getting the property secure will take another year or more, but such is life. When this wall is done, it will serve as the fence and a retaining wall for future construction....very, very much in the future with the other buildings they would need with much more immediacy (Church building, Sunday School rooms.)
(note the large rock...better for the wall, not so good for the back. This went on for quite some time carrying these bad boys, even some of the younger guys participating as well.)
The teachers are leaving their kids alone, as school is done for the year for the public schools here. Another dismal year for the educational system here. Sure, if you are privileged enough to go to private school classes are still in session (probably somewhere around 10% of the population), but of the 180 days that schools are supposed to meet, most schools were probably fortunate if they completed 120 days. I noticed the lack of the plethora of school uniforms passing us yesterday while we worked in the street. There was opportunity to just be there, be alive, witnessing to those walking past, greeting all sorts of people, even several interesting young men who were walking by while enjoying smoking some wacky cigarettes. Others recognized the smell and reminded me what it was or I would have naïvely went on my way.
We have a group member who told me yesterday this has been the best experience of her life. I have to admit, God has done amazing things in the lives of people coming short term before (present company included) but I do not think I have ever heard that on the third day of a trip....or during a construction day, on their first day working outside doing any kind of physical labor in their life. I was reminded at the way life is different here several times yesterday (one of which, briefly, the group reminded me of was how kids are willing to work here versus a general disdain or laziness for physical work in the US) but something that really stood out was seeing one member having mud covered dirty shoes who was about to throw them in the trash...because they were dirty, disgusting, mud covered shoes. I reacted without thinking, and showed her how to clean them up...they look nice do they not? The moral lesson learned there for both of us...more than I can easily summarize here.
I talked with Dora yesterday. If Dora asks me for time to sit down and talk, being so reserved and quiet, I know something is wrong. Valerie had told me how in the past week twice men have tried to break into the house to get at the older girls, and just a day or two ago there was a man spotted behind the house gratifying himself. She and the two oldest girls do not sleep now, all nine of the family sleeping in the brick part of the house which is safer. She was asking for a loan to put up a big fence around the whole property...something that would not only be a fence, but if possible in the future could be used to also use a corner as two walls of a future building. As much as I want to help her....finding $2,500 to loan all at once is something a bit difficult. She even offered to pay the loan every month...27% of her salary. Admirable, but not something she can realistically do...she goes without food sometimes now as it is, and last night when we visited the brood they had no water. I did offer to buy her a gun, which we could do right now since the cost is much lower than a wall, but she can not see firing a gun herself, and of course having a gun with eight kids in the house...not the most ideal thing. So, we are praying. Dora told Valerie separately yesterday about a visit from a neighbor who came to her to ask if she had electricity. Dora answered, surprised, of course not (no one has electricity for several blocks.) The neighbor, still confused, said..."maybe it was a dream then. I looked down the block (many houses away) and saw a great light coming from your house when the rest of the block was dark." The Christ-light implications are obvious, and a reminder that how we live, regardless of what we say or how we try to present ourselves when we are on our best behavior, is testifying to those around us.