When you think back on your life is there one particular day that qualifies as "the best day of your life"? Perhaps it was your wedding day, when a child was born, the day you graduated, the time you took 1st place in a championship game, or the opening night of a theater production that you starred in. For Sonia, it was when the missionaries from America came to fix up her house. "Why would all these people come all the way from America to help me?" She humbly asked holding back her tears. "This is the best day of my life!" Sonia and I talked about the idea of faith in action, as described in the book of James: "If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,' but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also, faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (2:15-17)
We agreed that preaching the Word of God is necessary. It's also necessary to live as Jesus teaches. Although Sonia has been struggling to provide for her five kids ever since her husband died last December, she does all she can to help out her neighbors and friends. Sonia was profoundly impacted by her experience with the short-term missionaries and said that she felt the love of Jesus through each one of them.
I'm eager to share some photos of our time at Sonia's house. The short-term missionaries worked incredibly hard and accomplished a tremendous amount in the six short hours that we were there. We broke the group into 5 work teams, each of which was assigned a task. One group was asked to build a new staircase leading out of the backside of Sonia's house because the old one had long since fallen apart. The second group replaced the rotten floorboards in Sonia's kitchen and laundry area to prevent anything or anyone from falling through. The third group renovated the bathroom shower by removing the old boards and replacing them with cement blocks. The fourth group reinforced the supports that hold up the back side of the house and also created a PVC drainage system that carries the wastewater away from the house. Historically, the wastewater drained out directly beneath the house, causing rapid erosion and compromising the integrity of the supports which hold up the house. One of the columns (shown above) was so close to slipping out of place that Chris and I didn't even think it was safe to have the short-term missionaries working there.
So, before they arrived, our family built a cement block support around the beam to make sure it wouldn't move.
The fifth group climbed up onto Sonia's roof to fix the problem of it leaking with every hard rainstorm. Following are some before, during, and after pictures.
Group #1: The New Staircase
Do you see the blue door close to the corner of the house in the photo below? This is where the old staircase used to be. After it collapsed Sonia's family had no choice but to use the front door, which was one of those things that just made their normal, everyday activities more difficult.
Group #2 Floorboard Replacement
The floor in Sonia's kitchen area is made out of planks of untreated wood. As you can imagine, the boards around the sink and laundry area slowly rotted as they were exposed to soapy water and such. The floorboards were so weak that it appeared the heavy cement sink could fall through at any minute. The team assigned to this task removed the old boards, cut new ones, and fit them snuggly in place.Group #3: Bathroom Renovations
I wish I would have taken better "before" shots of the shower in the bathroom so that you could see just how crummy their situation was. As you can see in the photo below, they hung plastic over the bathroom wall, on the outside of the house, to try to protect the weak boards and also to give them a little privacy. After all of the missionaries' hard work, Sonia's family now has a respectable place to bathe themselves.
Group #4: Structural Integrity
This team's task was two-fold. One, to reinforce the support posts/beams that were holding up the backside of the house. Two, to use the PVC pipes we bought to carry the water from the kitchen to the perimeter of the property so that it no longer caused rapid erosion beneath the house.
Group #5: Roof Repair
Historically, Sonia's family's belongings got wet every time a storm passed through because the ridge of the ceiling/roof leaked. Right now, it's the rainy season which means that it rains every day. Can you imagine the belongings inside your house getting soaked every single day? It was terrible! The bravest of our missionaries got up on top of the roof to figure out how they could stop water from getting in. This proved to be a really challenging project because of the way the roof was constructed. I give this team a lot of credit for their perseverance and ingenuity!!
Sonia and her kids are incredibly grateful for all that the missionaries did to fix some of the issues at their house; even more importantly, they have forever been impacted by the love that was shown to them that day. Unlike secular groups that offer humanitarian aid, our group went to Sonia's house in the name of Jesus Christ. We went to share HIS love, and they knew it.... so, mission accomplished!
I pray that "whatever you do, in word or in deed, [you] do in the name of the Lord Jesus"! (Colossians 3:17) In HIM, Karen
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