Wednesday, August 26, 2009

AbFab in Mexico - The Middle

The leader for the Mexico trip for many years, Pastor Carol, had a family tragedy before we left. Her husband was admitted to the hospital with heart failure. While we were in route to Mexico, he died. It was important to Pastor Carol that we continue with the mission plans and not let the families in Mexico down. One member, who had been to Mexico last year, was tagged as leader. (And yes that was the qualifications, that and of course that he was willing to be leader.) We kept in touch with Pastor Carol throughout the week and tried our best to make her proud.

Bright and early on Monday morning - actually the sun was not yet up - we headed towards the border. Jorge met us at the border to lead us to the Clinic. The twelve of us divided into two groups to work on each house. The men were divided equally and assigned to work on their house for the entire time. The woman worked on different houses throughout the week, although I have to say that the house that I was assigned to the first day (House 1) was to me, MY house. Each house was also assigned a Maestro to make sure the building is built correctly and a translator to help, you know, translate.

The houses are built out of concrete block. When we arrived the concrete floor had been poured and the first of the corners set.

First we moved the blocks into the center of the house and mixed the mortar. I helped the maestro, Julian, mix the mortar using the small amount of Spanish that I know and gestures. A bit later the translator tells us Julian speaks English. It turns out that he has been a student at a University in Georgia for several years.
Very funny Julian! Good thing I like you.

We did have fun all week teaching Julian, American expressions and jokes. The favorite - and funniest- was the "that's what she said" jokes.

I am not sure if you know this - but concrete blocks and mortar is heavy. It really heavy. The other thing you should know about building a house with concrete block is this - Early in the morning when it is the coolest and you are your freshest, the block have to be lifted a foot or two to be placed. At the end of the day, when the temperature and increased to something approaching a warm oven, the blocks must be lifted up higher- several feet higher. Some engineer should look into this problem and figure out how to build a house from the top down.

The entire week the wind blew. It was good because it kept the heat from completely baking us. However it also blew sand and grit into my eyes. I even had on my safety glasses.

The second day we began working with wood. While the rafters were going up, I was put on paint duty. Compared to concrete block, give me a paint brush any day. We set up workstations and began to get a rhythm in which we TURNED OUT some painted wood. The quality of the wood used for the houses was variable and we tried to pick out the best pieces for the doors. The rest of the wood we tried to cover up with as paint as well as possible.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

Blessings to Pastor Carol.

Kathryn said...

I am so sorry to hear about the tragic events before the trip.

Gosh, Robin, after reading about all of the building, I can feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into this. Kudos to you and your group! I could not lift those blocks, bad back and all.

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