It's challenging for people to gather for worship when there isn't a place gather. Our missionary friends, Taylor and Katie Schmidt, have felt the Lord calling them to build churches for two different villages... and so they are.
The Schmidts mobilized a group from their local parish in Wisconsin to help. At the beginning of March, ten Cheeseheads came to our area and spent two weeks breaking ground (literally) and completing the initial stages of construction.
|Here are the short-term missionaries from Wisconsin along with our family, the Schmidts and some priests.|
We joined them and helped out as much as we could.
|Existing structure on donated parcel of land.|
The first step of the project was to demolish the existing mud structure which stood on the land donated for use.
|Katelyn and some of the boys from our town tearing down a wall.|
As we smashed the pick ax into the cement-like mud walls we were able to reverse engineer the whole structure. We figured out what makes these dwellings so strong and durable. (This is an example of homeschooling at its finest!)
|Karen and Michael hard at work.|
We discovered that there were very few, if any, nails used during the original construction. All the walls were made with tree trunks and bamboo shoots which had been connected with vines. Atop the bamboo shoot lattices was a composition of mud and shredded reeds.
|Jack helped these men break apart the wall and then push it down.|
|Everyone stopped working to enjoy the honey in the wall of the structure.|
At one point, I swung the pick ax into a corner and instantly a swarm of bees appeared. Although I was startled, I was more startled at everyone's reaction. The locals yelped with excitement. They all put down their tools and gather around for a sweet treat. During our break, Taylor shared the daily readings and stressed the importance of always making time for Jesus. It was beautiful!
|This was what we were able to accomplish the first day.|
Everything takes so much longer without modern machinery - like a bulldozer.
|Katelyn digging the hole for the corner stone.|
After the initial demolition and site preparation, the hard work of digging holes for the foundation began.
|Anna and Karen just starting hole #11.|
It was grueling as the ground was mostly sticky, heavy clay. Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to work hard for You!!
|This is a hole ready for cement. |
These supports are what will hold up the whole building.
The group built the support platforms and columns. We helped raise them into place, which was really exciting!
It was fascinating to participate in third-world construction with third-world tools and techniques.
|Two Peruvians using their water tube level to determine where|
the next pieces need to go.
The most interesting thing was learning how they use a water tube level. The Peruvian men filled a long tube with water and then placed their thumbs atop each end. They put the tube in one corner of the structure and adjusted it until the top of the water was where the next structural piece needed to be. After marking it, they stretched the water tube level to the other three corners and used the water level to mark where those next pieces should go. One of the short-term missionaries checked the accuracy of their calculations with his laser level (just because he was curious) and found that they were within 1/8 of an inch. My guess is that they could have been more precise, but it seems they don't value precision much around here.
|The Schmidt family with the Bishop of Cordoba, Spain.|
Toward the end of the short-term mission trip, the bishop of Cordoba, Spain (who overseas this region of Peru) came to visit with some fellow priests. They visited each of the construction sites to thank the workers and encourage the locals.
The people were thrilled to have such honored guests in their communities.
|Our family with the bishop of Cordoba, Spain.|
(He's in the white shirt and the big cross)
During our training we were taught to always be ready for unexpected visitors. We never imagined that would be a bishop from Spain. After working all day at the construction site we returned home, covered in mud and totally exhausted from working under the hot, hot sun. A few of us got showers and were snuggling in for a little siesta. Katelyn never made it past the rocking chair in our front room; she passed out from shear exhaustion. Still sweaty and covered in mud, I was sorting our dirty laundry when the phone rang. Our local priests informed us that they would be at our house in five minutes with the bishop and some of his fellow priests. It was an extremely productive five minutes to say the very least.
We feel so blessed for the opportunity to work alongside this group these last two weeks. We look forward to continuing with these two projects until the roofs are raised with songs of praise to Our Lord and Savior!