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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

AMOR Ministries Journal: Day 3 - First Day of Building

This is an excerpt from my journal building homes for AMOR Ministries in Mexico.

Monday April 16, 2012


We were awakened by Tim on his bull horn around 6:00 AM. After a very cold night and fitful sleep I made a mental note to dress warmer for our second night.   Folks headed for toilet town in droves as others were seen getting their wake-up coffee and still others were brushing their teeth to get rid of morning breath.  

Everyone had to make their own bag lunch before being served a wonderful breakfast of hot pancakes topped with apple sauce and syrup with a side of fresh fruit and yogurt.  The hot cocoa was soothing.  

As soon as the sun came up, things warmed up quickly.  Off came the jackets, gloves and ski hats.  We assembled into our ten teams and got our day's marching orders.  Everyone headed to their assigned van all eager to see our building site.

The ride to our site took about 40-45 minutes.  The road conditions are worse than any pot-holed street in New York City.  Drivers go wherever they want, there's very little road etiquette, but somehow things remained manageable.  

Nadi shared this photo of her family with us.
When we arrived to our site, we learned we could not park directly next to the lot.  We were about 100 yards up a low hill.  Everyone lugged our backpacks, coolers and water down to the site.  Once there we were introduced to our family. 

We met the wife/mother, Nadi, and her 3 young children.  Each of the families who are approved for a home by AMOR must own their land and have shown their devotion to the local church.  Nadi and her family were 1 of 10 families chosen for our particular mission.   


Nadi's husband is gone much of the work week and we did not meet him during our time there.  But she showed us this picture of their whole family.  

Our house plans.
We were told many times that our first day would be our hardest.  I would have to echo that, and also say that our last day was nearly as hard.  We spent the day surveying the very small plot of land which was approximately 14x30 feet.  The small house filled up the plot of land and is about 11x24 feet. All of the homes are the same consisting of 2 rooms with a doorway and 2 external door frames.  To us it is basic shelter, to our family, it is a home.


Mixing and pouring the concrete foundation.
We spent hours leveling our plot of land to prepare for the concrete foundation.  It took hours to excavate and level the land.  Then it took hours for 3 teams to mix, pour and smooth out the concrete.  We were unable to complete the foundation on this first day of building.  We settled on getting half of the concrete poured and planned to finish the rest on our second day.  


Assembling a wall.
While the concrete was being poured another team (which I was part of) started measuring, sawing and nailing the 7 walls together.  Our plans called for 6 outside walls and 1 internal wall.  Many of us had never learned to properly saw before, but we learned quickly during this experience.  And like the old adage, measure twice and cut once is good advice.

After a long, hard day of physical work, our team piled in our van around 6 PM.  We were all ready for a nice home cooked meal. But first, we were all ready for a hot shower.  But, would we get one?

Today we completed:
  • Leveling the plot of land for the foundation.
  • Mixing and pouring the concrete onto half of the framed-out foundation plot.
  • Screeding the first half of the concrete.
  • Sawing and assembling our first wall.
Sites of the City on our return to tent city:
Driving through market-filled streets.

Street vendor selling their goods along a fence.

Pot holes and dirt roads made for bumpy rides.

 A vineyard was adjacent to our tent city.

An old port-a-potty makes a guard house at the gated entrance to our tent city.
In this series:

AMOR Ministries Journal: Day 1 & 2
AMOR Ministries Journal: Day 3 (first day of building)
AMOR Ministries Journal: Day 4
AMOR Ministries Journal: Day 5
AMOR Ministries Journal: Day 6 


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