Day 1–Norma’s home

June 13, 2010

 The “Dirty Dozen,” the 12 men who flew from Atlanta to Guayaquil, Ecuador on Friday, June 11, 2010, arrived with no trouble, on schedule, with all luggage and necessary papers. We were settled into our rooms at the Schoenstaat Retreat Center by midnight, and rested well.

  Saturday, we were restless early, and devoured a breakfast of eggs and bread with cheese, cereal (served not with milk, but with liquid yogurt), and headed out. After a stop at a store–somewhat like an American Super WalMart–where we picked up some tools and water (as well as a few snacks, as we will not eat lunch when we build), we were at the build site and getting started around 11:30.

  Norma is a pleasant woman of indeterminate age, who is caring for her mentally challenged daughter and that daughter’s children. There was no male figure in the picture, beyond a son and a cousin who presented himself to be a very hard worker as he helped us. We had to demolish and remove a good bit of the previous home, then fight incredibly rocky soil as we dug holes for the nine posts that support the home. This home was the highest I have been involved in over four years of building–the floor was a good 7 or 8 feet off the ground, which will allow the family to later enclose the ground floor for more living space, or a small business. We prevailed through the tough conditions, and gathered to celebrate and pray with the family around 4:30.

  We stopped as usual at “2 Degrees South”, the little cantina we frequent after our builds, and had an ice cold cerveza with many of the locals who had come to watch a soccer match on TV. Then it was back to Schoenstaat for a shower and dinner, and reflection on the day. The question for the evening was “Where did you see God today?” and the vast majority of answers dealt with the delight in the faces of children who–despite living in poverty–find pleasure in the simplest things, and seem to benefit from having strong, secure male figures around. The vast–VAST–majority of families here have no men who can be counted on.

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