Part Two: Cement Day

Monday, June 24, 2013

My mom made me get up very early Monday morning—6:00—because she did not want anyone to be waiting for us. As it turned out there was nothing to worry about. We were ready to go long before the bus left. I was ready at 6:30 for a nice breakfast of pancakes with peanut butter and syrup and lots of fabulous fresh pineapple and papaya! We brushed our teeth with bottled water, packed our tools, snacks, camera, wipes and toilet paper, trying to think about everything we might need for the day.  Then we loaded Brandon’s truck with his `tool kit.’ `Tool kit’ means lots of shovels, picks, 2 cement mixers, table saw, circle saw, etc. etc.

Then we loaded up into our school bus—we did not actually leave until 8:30. We were packed into a bus with Team A and Pastor Jeff’s Team form Aloma Church, Orlando, Florida. We dropped off Team A and then the other group and then headed to our site. The bus could not take us all the way down to the place because the road was steep and narrow so we walked down the path. I was glad for my new friend Ron because he helped me walk down the steep road; my mom sort of abandoned me taking pictures like crazy: lots of beautiful scenery, interesting houses, and curious on-lookers.

Brandon introduced us to the family we were going to build a house for and then we had our circle-up prayer and plan of the day. Prayer for the day:  Dear Lord you know that you have brought each team member here for Your purposes; and that you have chosen Wilma’s family for this particular house built by this particular team of people. We thank you and we ask that you would do your work IN us while we work and interact with each other and the family and THROUGH us as we build a house for this particular family and neighborhood. For some reason this prayer got my mom going again: silly mom. Maybe the acknowledgement that God had certainly brought us both here in spite of my mom: she was so tired and worn out by all the activity of my Senior year, the emotions of my Graduation, and her worries about my Adult Life that she thought she couldn’t do it and almost cancelled both of us. Anyway, Brandon went on to explain the `plan of the day’ which helped distract her and get her busy with the tasks at hand: unload the tool kit from Brandon’s truck, dig out and level the area, assemble the frame of the floor and footings, set the re-bar, make the cement and then pour the floor and footings.

Brandon introduces Wilma and her two children.

Brandon introduces Wilma, Julie and Frandi.

I wanted to help with unloading the truck but it was too hard: it was a very steep path down to the work site so I just watched. After Uncle Jonathan got set up cutting boards down below the worksite, I helped a little with handing the boards back and forth to Uncle Jonathan sawing but it was hard because we were on the side of the mountain. I will try to describe the worksite: the road we walked down from the bus; then we turned right to the main house of the extended family; we walked passed the kitchen, the outdoor fire for cooking tortillas, the outdoor dining room where we ate lunch; then we were in the backyard where they washed clothes and where the bathroom was; from this `backyard’ we had to go down another steep incline to where we were to build the house: wood, sand, rocks, etc had already been delivered. The space was exactly the right size for the floor of the house: in the front the mountain was going up to the bathroom and main house; and in the back, the land was going down the mountain to another road and down a steep valley. It was beautiful AND it was difficult to move tools and wood and things up and down and back and forth. A few pictures to give you a little idea of what things looked liked:

I helped with leveling the dirt, putting dirt into buckets and sometimes I helped with chiseling. It was very hard to chisel. I had to be strong to lift the chisel and I had to be careful not to hit my toes or anyone else’s toes with the chisel. It was fun. When things got really intense with the preparation of the footings, I took a little break. Then Wilma and friends and family made us a wonderful lunch: chicken-leg soup with tortillas and a delicious salad.

After lunch we circled up and Brandon said: listen up guys, I have seen this take 1.5 hours or 4 hours. It is up to you what you want it to be: stay focused on your task; take water breaks as you need to; but don’t slow or stop the cycle of the cement recipe:  3 buckets of gravel, 3 of sand, 1 of cement and 3/4 of water; then mix it, pour it, level it out; then screed it. Heather suggested that my mom and I prepare the cement buckets. We had two buckets and we had to keep them filled. She showed us how to cut the bags and not spill too much cement on the ground.

It was really fun! We all worked really hard: the sand and rocks were down below and had to be carried up to the worksite; the water was in big barrels and buckets had to be filled from those barrels; we had to fill the cement buckets about ¾ full; we all had to work together keep the two cement mixers going all the time!

It took us 2.5 hours which was pretty good since we had such a small crew—my mom wanted to take a bathroom-water break: nope we just had to push through; well we were able to drink a little water but only when both cement buckets were full but no bathroom breaks! It was nice to feel so very useful: if we had stopped filling buckets with cement, the work would have stopped.

We cleaned up the tools with lots of water and smoothed out the cement. Uncle Jeff wanted me to do the edges but there was no time: our bus was waiting for us. It came about 5:00 and took us back to the resort just in time to take a shower before supper. Brandon and Heather stayed two more hours after we left in order to finish up and then after that Brandon had to help another leader with his truck—I think it was sliding down a mountain! I am not exactly sure what happened but I do know that Brandon was very tired Monday night so we skipped our group devotions which was a good thing because I was very tired too and wanted to go to bed early.

7 thoughts on “Part Two: Cement Day

    • Hi Debbie,
      It rained Monday night and Tuesday the hills were very muddy and slippery. Brandon made steps for me.

  1. Hi Matalia, I got your Cement Day post and had just said to Pete that I wished the photos were larger so that I could see everyone. I clicked on one and nothing happened…until about 4 min. later when it came up full screen and I was able to click on an arrow on the right and see them all. Now I have unofficially met the other part of your family – Jonathan and Laura and the kids. FUN!
    What a beautiful setting that is (can’t wait to see the finished house!!) You have certainly had an amazing experience – we went the first year that our church went to CASAS in Juarez, Mexico. I will never forget that trip!
    Hope you are just relaxing now and enjoying summertime!!
    Love, Gingy

    • Hi Gingy,
      I will ask my friend Christy–it should not take 4 minutes for the pictures to be big. I hope I can do Casas again!

  2. Pingback: Guatemala Part Three: the walls go up! | Mathalia's Potholders

  3. Pingback: Guatemala Part 5: Dedication! | Mathalia's Potholders

  4. Pingback: Guatemala Again! | Mathalia's Potholders

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s