On the Scene Reports
The 2002 St. Andrew El Salvador Mission
Day 8: October 14th

Nearing the Finish

Time to improvise.  Guillermo has been in San Salvador overnight and is meeting us at the village, so we have only two Agape trucks to transport the rest of us.  The back of the truck is filled with school furniture, tables, fans, wastebaskets and table legs.  There are three people in the back and three in the front including the driver…total six.

Vehicle two….this one has room in front for only two people so that leaves four in the back including Michael Irvine (I) — who is balancing a 20-inch fan on his lap, Kitty on Lisa’s lap and John trying to keep from getting forced out the door.  Doug’s in the front seat taking the picture with his camera equipment jammed between his feet.  As a group we have really gotten close in the past week….but this is getting a bit ridiculous.

If we ever write a book about Buenos Aires, Doug has suggested it be called, “Where the Paved Road Ends.”  We drive from Sonsonate to Armenia and after a few city streets we find a narrow passage from the paved street to a VERY rutted dirt road leading to Buenos Aires.  No photo can do justice to the ruts on this road.  Mike is now hanging on the back of our truck to try and keep the load from falling out as we rock and roll our way up the final hill.

This was a very busy day.  We used a checklist of remaining jobs as we raced to finish the major elements of the building before our Wednesday departure.  Doug was assigned to install fluorescent light fixtures by hanging them from wire bridles hung over the roof rafters.  His first attempt was a rats nest of wire until he learned a new skill…braiding.  That’s his village teammate Andres holding two thin wires with vice-grip pliers while Doug uses a small piece of wood in the middle to twist the two pieces together.  Once ready, the braided wires were slung over the rafters using two-high scaffolding.  Doug and Antonio then stood on a pair of oil drums to attach the fixture to the wires, lift them to the proper height, make sure the fixture was level and then tie things off.  We’ve all learned a lot of new skills and made some great new friends.

Doug walked up the hill following the truck.  This is a typical house in the village….tin roof and sides and a wooden frame…a partially open area used for cooking and a single room used by the entire family.

That’s Whitney, working on siding and gutters.  Behind him, teams are hard at work putting in window frames, finishing and painting trim and preparing for the installation of wooden shutters.

Wanna see our El Salvador bug collection?  Leslie found this in a pile of wood outside the building.  Lisa found a grasshopper large enough to stun a Volkswagen, and yesterday’s visit to the village square in Juayua included some mucho grande spiders hanging in large webs between the trees.  Early in our work, a brilliant green and massive beetle was found on the slab.  There was speculation it might be a member of the El Salvador Air Force.  And a moth the size of a hang glider was lying on the floor in our hotel the other night.  But no mosquitos to speak of.

We’re hitting some important milestones.  Today saw the installation of the final piece of roofing.  It stretches 80 feet to the other end.  Cathy Collier attached a strip of adhesive caulking to one edge of each sheet before it went up to the crew for installation.  The heat at times made the caulking too sticky to apply properly, so Cathy began immersing rolls of the stuff in our ice chest to harden it up a bit…worked like a charm.

The interior is starting to come together.  This view looks toward the front of the building with interior wall panels going in for the teacher’s office on the left and an entry area on the right.  The main interior space will be divided into three classrooms.   Bathrooms for boys and for girls are at the other end along with some storage space.

Wouldn’t be at typical day without lots of cute kids hanging around watching the construction, heading for school or begging to have their picture taken.

Tomorrow comes the day we know is going to be hardest of all….our last day at the village.  We still have a sizable checklist of things to be done…big and small, and we know that a special ceremony is being planned by the villagers for four tomorrow afternoon.  We suspect there are going to be more than a few tears before it is all over, and we drive down the unpaved road for the final time.