In a lot of ways it is easy to describe today in one word – concrete! We spent most of the day mixing it and pouring it as we completed the floor in the kitchen at Nueva Victoria today. We still have to complete a section of sidewalk/porch for the kitchen in the morning but we did a lot of work today and we were all really dirty and tired at the end of the day.
Just so you know what mixing cement is like in a developing area, let me describe the process which I have experienced in Mexico, Peru, and now Guatemala. Concrete contains four ingredients – cement mix, sand, gravel, and water. In our world these would all be combined in a mixer and poured into the space where we want it to be. Our day started by moving twelve wheelbarrows of sand, combining it with four bags of mix into a big pile. We then moved that pile six feet away and back several times to mix the sand and cement mix. Then you create a volcano like pile and put the gravel in the middle. You then mix water with shovels and hoes. After the mix is right, and this is where we rely on our local expert, the concrete is then shoveled into five gallon buckets and then carried thirty feet to the room where it is poured onto the floor and smoothed by hand using a trowel. Imagine doing this for a 10×20 foot room and you have the idea. (Once, when I was working in the Mexican Yucatan we did the same thing on a second floor room which involved passing the buckets up a ladder!)
Needless to say, by the end of the day we had concrete from head to toe and we were very tired. However, we were also very satisfied with the job we had done!
We began our day today by passing out coloring books and crayons that we had brought with us from Indiana to the students at the school where we are working on the kitchen. The children were thrilled with their gifts and several of the classes sang for us. Our translator and guide from Mission Guatemala, a young man named Diego, introduced us and played games with a couple of the classes and we all thought that watching Diego interact with the children was a real treat. We are really enjoying our time with Diego and we all think he is a blessing to us and we are grateful that Mission Guatemala has him as one of their staff members.
I want to say that I have been so inspired by the rest of the team from St. Mark’s. Today was a really long work day and from start to finish every team member was willing to chip in where needed and did it with a sense of joy and good humor. There was a lot of laughter throughout the day as well as on the van ride home which made the trip seem shorter. (I won’t mention the singing along with popular songs on the way home which had one of our local coworkers laughing and dancing in his seat!)
It was a productive and joyful day!
As a final note I want to mention that I will not be blogging tomorrow night. On Wednesday nights the work teams here at Mission Guatemala go into Panajachel, the town in which we are staying, and have dinner at a nice restaurant.