Monday, October 10, 2011

Keep on Trucking

I'm beginning to see that the truck ride, especially after having been at the job site all day, is one of my favourite parts to the day. Sure, I've often wondered how often the brakes get checked, and really, how many people that vehicle is supposed to hold, and Stan and I both know that they sure aren't using low sulphur diesel either! Yikes. After being drenched in sweat mixed in with creamy sunscreen, there's nothing better than having the red dirt cling to all the skin that is showing on your body.......then, standing in the back of the truck while the breeze flies through your hair, the odd stray branch clips your neck, or the pelting bugs on your face and sunglasses while the sweat and sunscreen on your body slowly dries the dirt that is resting there. Honestly though, that is my favourite part of the day; to enjoy that bird's eye view of everything beautiful that surrounds us. And even everything that isn't beautiful seems to capture your heart and imagination as you try and picture the story behind the story. The endless stray dogs, the endless bean/fruit/vegetable stands lining the roadway, the cows/goats tied to the fences while they graze away as cars and trucks zoom past them constantly. I especially enjoy staring at the mist in the mountains in the morning as we're climbing the steeps hills and love seeing the shadows on the mountains from cloud cover as we end our work day. It's even more vivid than being on the back of Nick's motorcycle. Although, the bike helmet would come in handy to keep me from being pelted with bugs and dirt.

Pastor Jorge & pb&j sandwiches

As many of you will know, pastor Jorge was involved in a life-threatening accident earlier this year. While much of his recovery has been miraculous, he still has a long road to travel to regain full health & strength. In fact, he just had another operation in the last few weeks, to take bone from his hip and insert it into his damaged thigh. (Yuck. I can't believe I'm writing this!) The recovery from this particular procedure is expected to take up to 3 months. The emotional toll on both himself and his wife, Maritza has also been overwhelming. While he rests and heals, he has stepped down from ministry while still living in his private family quarters behind the church. Even though he is not in the service, the sound of voices raised in song still reaches his bed whenever a service is taking place. I trust that is uplifting for him. Immediately upon arriving in San Vicente, Deve & I were asked to visit with Pastor Jorge. Gulp! Definite deep breath on my part, as I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of blood or medical machinery, etc. Deve took a little peak under the covers, but not way!! Otherwise, I managed and I'm very thankful for that!!
And as for pb&j sandwiches, they are still a miserable sight at noon every day. All damp and smushed together from the heat. Ugh! Why, oh why, do they have to be so mushy? It's a trial, I admit it. On this Thanksgiving Day, I count my many, many blessings. The sandwiches? I'm still working up to full thankfulness for those!!

The first day is always the hardest day. It is so hot. Hotter than you can even anticipate. We are not building so their is little physical effort, but it is challenging. A lot of times I found myself wondering how I got here. Riding on the back of the truck, careening down the streets teeming with activity, I at once feel completely at home and somewhat in shock of my surroundings. We visited the people we will build for today. That is always a treat. I try to make immediate contact. A touch on the arm, a smile, a hug. It is never unwelcome. The moment I lay my hand on their arm they grasp at mine. We share something. They know they are valuable and I know they are valuable. I see them. Do we not all long to be seen? To be known? To at least feel someone else cares?
One house we are building will be for a mother and her 5 children. When asked where her husband was she was overcome with emotion telling us that he passed away a year ago. Her pain became our pain as we listened and tried to convey our sypathy. A hug did not seem to suffice. The extra squeeze on her arm did not appease my desire to talk with her, weep with her. It was hard. I trust that the holy spirit whispered our prayers into her heart and offered a measure of comfort.
We had the honor to pray with a family whose daughter is in the hospital with severe, life threatening burns. To be able to share prayers, and tears with this family was a gift from the Lord. Our hearts were joined in sorrow and hope, and though there was little else to do it was enough.
Oh how mighty is our Lord. His heart is all consuming.
Joy and Joe


Today, as well as being able to see our building locations for this year, we got to revisit some of the houses that our team has built in the past. One of the families told us how they had to pray and trust God to even get the little corner of a field to build on which was an incredible blessing that they're still very happy about. It shows me how we forget the good stuff so quickly and focus mostly our dissapointments and don't appreciate the blessings God has given us. Another place we visited with a few houses our team built last year had really taken good care of their place; planting beautiful gardens and had a hanging plant made from wire lined with a garbage bag and a pet bird in a cage made from chicken wire. Then just up the road was another house with a few people there. As we got there they were talking to us and Carlos, our translator, wasn't quite there yet so we weren't quite sure what they were saying but it didn't seem to make sense and concerned us with the knife one of them was holding. We soon realized it was because the armadillo that was sitting out was caught last night and is supper tonight for them. So we were treated with a lesson in how to gut and prepare an armadillo for cooking. Surprisingly I found it rather fascinating and exciting to watch.
ps his little tongue was sticking out :P