On the Scene ReportsThe 2002 St. Andrew El Salvador Mission
Day 4: October 10th

Good Progress

Thursday was a great day for the Mission Team and the village members, so many of whom pitched in to help.  We were again up early and away to Buenos Aires and got to work by forming a “siding team” of village workers.  With a quick bit of training on making sure each panel of siding was leveled and then screwed into the sidewall beams, they were off and running.  Whitney Evans worked on his upper arm strength by trying to drill through a beam plate.  (By lunch he could hardly lift his arms.)

With kids coming and going each day to attend one of the two class sessions, we had lots of little sidewalk superintendents.  John and Kitty had helpers watching as they braided the end of a cable.  Language was no barrier and they are now calling us by name….Kitty is now referred to as Senorita Gato.

Lisa White spent a good part of the morning atop scaffolding working with a team of villagers to install the lengthwise roof purlins which will hold the roof panels.  It gets hot up there and we continued to consume large amounts of fluids in the intense tropical sun.

Meet Estella.  She walked her children to school and before you knew it, she and Leslie had become fast friends and Estella became an expert in drilling holes in sill plates.

English…..Spanish…When we really needed to help with important details, Cam and Guillermo with their fluent Spanish constantly helped us out.  But when mothers and babies are involved, language differences disappear.

The children of Buenos Aires are a true joy for their parents who dote on them and for the Mission Team as well.  But there are responsibilities for children in rural villages.  This beautiful young girl suddenly appeared near lunchtime, carrying a tub of fresh corn kernels.  She was headed for the local grain mill to have the corn ground for tortillas.

When the Mission team departs, maintenance and upkeep of the new school/community center will be the responsibility of the village, with help from regional education offices.  A local electrician spent time with Cam reviewing the details of the electrical system he and a team of local student trainees will install after we depart.

Our team would be helpless without the construction leadership and expertise of folks like Mike Collier, Gary, Cam, and John who seem to know everything about how to construct things and better yet, how to solve problems when they inevitably arise.  As the siding team added more panels, Mike began cutting openings for windows and for doors.

What do you do when you cut the first doorway and put a new door in place?  Why of course, you go get your bride and carry her across the threshold.

All that work in the hot sun and the muscles get tired and achy. What better way to deal with those aches than a group backrub including members of the mission team and the villagers.  The villagers may at first be shy about joining those crazy “Americanos”, but who can resist the offer of a good backrub.

The workday came to an end about a half hour ahead of schedule when we got hit by the edge of a thunderstorm.  We were able to get equipment under shelter and the storm passed quickly.  One reality of rain in the village…sticky and slippery mud.  Life during the winter rainy season can be a real challenge and the primitive road in from Armenia can become impassable except on foot.

Drivers from Agape joined Guillermo to drive us all back to Sonsonate for showers, dinner and then some rest.  Lisa, Kitty and Cam in the back of one of the pickups on the way home.

At dinner tonight, we had the privilege of dining with Father Flavian Mucci, the founder of Agape.  His years of work and dedication to the people of El Salvador are truly inspiring.  Today, the organization assists in community development and runs its own radio and TV station, a home for the elderly, restaurant, hotel, hospital and vocational training programs.  It now takes a multi-million dollar annual budget, but as Father Mucci explained, whenever he has decided to take a risk, God seems to come up with a solution.  Numerous times, within days or even hours of an internal decision to take a new risk, very generous donors have appeared out of nowhere (and sometimes disappeared as quickly).

Our thanks to the many of you who have sent notes of support and encouragement.  We expect another full day tomorrow and hope to finish the siding and with luck, the roof as well.   We’ll also work on doors and windows and installation of interior walls for offices, storage and rest rooms.  We are also looking forward to a third luncheon prepared by the ladies of the village…on the menu will be an El Salvadoran favorite…papusas….tortillas filled with meat, cheese and beans.

Until next report…and with thanks to God for showing us the joy of giving….the 2002 Mission Team