Monday, June 26, 2017

Colombia 2017 #2

As I am still working on collecting my thoughts from my time in Brisas, I could write so many pages about so many things. I want to share with you about my team, about the construction, about lessons learned, about the staff in Brisas del Mar and about new experiences.
 I don't know what to share today. I am trying to find normal again, as I am back to work and back into the swing of the kids' schedules. But after a trip like that, what even is "normal" anymore? It will never cease to amaze me how the travels and being in a third world area give a person perspective. I still have the same worries and struggles here, and yet somehow they feel different. It's a beautiful gift I pray I can hang on to.

 Today I will share with you about the construction. I don't want to talk this blog out day by day necessarily because sometimes a day was packed full with multiple activities. So let's break it down... Today: Construction.

We went there as a construction team.

John is the contractor there, and he really does know what he's doing. If you put one of us into his position we would mess it all up because we don't have the concept of how the construction needs done in their country like he does.
 John does an amazing job at guiding us, communicating when he doesn't speak English, and knowing what needs done. He is so encouraging to us, too, always telling us good job and thanking us. We look at it and feel like we've barely scratched the surface of what needs done, but to him, to their community, what we get done helps propel them forward.
  I will show some pictures at the end of this blog to compare what I saw and did last year to what we came into and worked on this year. To many, and to most, when viewing the photos, it's easily said "That's all that got done in a year and a half??"  But to those of us working there, or those of us who had seen it before, we thank God for the progress it has made!

 You see, construction there is a very slow process. Mostly it gets worked on when teams come in, so the more teams we can get in there, the better off Brisas will be, the quicker the building can be finished. Rains hinder the process, too. We saw that this year. We lost a whole day on the site when there was a storm all night and so the site was too muddy to be worked on.
  I was so excited to see that walls had been built!! That was huge progress for the building.
 By the way, they don't go buy the blocks... John makes them. Literally his handiwork is all over the process of building this church. Yes, they make the cement blocks by hand. He has some helpers, but honestly, can you even imagine here in the states making every block by hand, how long that would take?? It's truly a process one cannot imagine without seeing it for themselves.

 The first day we were able to get out on the site, we divided and conquered. Ginnifer and I spent several hours cleaning up rocks. There was a section inside the walls that had rocks all over the ground. Everything gets repurposed, reused. Including the rocks. Emma and Ashley helped us. Cindy and Barb, too. Rocks were shoveled into the bucket, and the bucket of rock was emptied into a large sac. 2 loads of rocks per sac, then the sac would get wheeled off to another area. Eventually we used up all the sacs, and began just dumping the rocks into the wheelbarrow itself. It was hot and they were heavy. But we pushed through and got it done! The rocks would be used to be mixed with sand and make cement eventually.

 Ashley and Emma also worked on digging a "trench". I can't think of a better word to describe this. But water had built up on the inside base of the walls, so a little space was dug to drain the water to the outside.

 Ed and Chris and James were working on a digging project on the outside of the walls. Ed and Chris were the construction "leads" from our team, having the most knowledge in that area, so they spent a lot of time closely working with John and putting things into action. Michael filled the gaps between people's needs, shoveling dirt. The event was a true team effort.

 As we worked, the teen girls of Brisas were servants and filled our water bottles diligently and would bring us drinks of water. A true picture of the verse that says "I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink." These girls served us. There wasn't one of us that that fact has escaped.

 As the week went on, I can't even tell you all of the work that went into the construction. Very much of it involved digging and dumping dirt, moving it from one part of the worksite to fill in the other. We were working on leveling out what was inside the walls. The air was humid, and sweat dripped off of us as though it were actually raining!

 John had a compactor that ran with a belt and gas (forgive my lack of technical terms here) but unfortunately, the machine needed a new belt and while we were there, we could not get it to work. So as much as was possible, a hand compactor was being used.

 On another day of the construction, the community came out in full force. Literally. It was a beautiful event. The women wanted to shovel, the teenagers wanted to dig dirt, the young kids wanted to push the wheelbarrows of dirt from one location to another. Everyone was hands on. There were not enough shovels for that, but of course it was exciting to have them working with us, so we all took turns. And in between we spent time chit chatting or offering a hand to the others. Again, true team effort.

 By the end of the week, there was a little bit more foundational walls inside the building and so much dirt had been moved to begin leveling out and creating the space needed on the outside for what they will be doing out there.

 The process of this building is long. It is my dream to one day see the completion of it. There is no telling when that might be, but we are all praying for that day. This building has had so many hands involved, so many people invested in it, so much love and sweat poured out through each phase.

 To explain the construction process is a little challenging. We Americans (or, as they would correct us because they live in South America they view all of us-them and us- as Americans. Thus, they say we are from the United States. Sorry, that was a total side note.)Anway, we have a tendency to be so used to our ways that we believe our ways are the right ways. But when you are in another culture, it is imperative to adapt to their ways. This is a challenge, I think especially when it comes to the construction aspect. We see ways that can make it all faster or better... and maybe sometimes it will... but the reality is they have different soil, different economy, different abilities, different tools and different lifestyles.
 Therefore, explaining the construction to others is TOUGH. For that matter, trying to sum up what we experienced or felt or learn is tough all around. But I am trying to do that.
 All in all, I believe we accomplished some good work. To the naked eye, it probably seems we did nothing. But to those of us shoveling dirt for the last week... we get it.
 Here are a few photos. Take note that there are a few included from my trip last year to try to show you the progress that was made.(Also, please note... I don't have a collage photo maker. I will work on this so that I don't have so many large photos in one blog, but for now...sorry.. )
  The next blog I will tell you about the staff in Brisas.








By the end of the week, these mounds of dirt had been pretty well leveled off and moved to another area

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