Worship in a New Way

June 13, 2011

            Sunday dawned bright and clear, but mercifully the clouds moved in. Here at Schoenstaat Retreat Center, crowds both small and large gathered early for worship and Mass, while we who have come here to serve Christ and the poor moved ourselves out early to worship through building homes.

            We built two more homes today, one for a single mother of 42 with 5 children. She was living in the open space beneath her oldest son’s Hogar de Cristo home, and the home we built for her today is right in front of that home. That son and his wife were present, along with the Mom and three of her other children, as well as many people from the community, some of whom helped. Interestingly (and somewhat curiously) some Police drove by, the circled back and stopped and watched us for a while. This build went fairly well, Team Gato starting to find our rhythm, everyone settling into our various roles. We added a porch and stairs to this home, as the floor was about 8 feet above ground level. The work was difficult, the air hot and humid, but our spirits buoyed by the fun we were having, and the feeling that we were making a difference in one family’s life, at least.

            Team Ivan had a more difficult build site with plenty of rock, and some interesting opportunities to encounter what seemed like sewer water as they built, but they persevered. They built for a couple with two children, the husband mentally challenged, yet very cheerful and helpful. This home had access to (pirated) electricity, which had to be removed from the home they were living in (which also required furniture removal and demolition before construction). An unintended contact with the wires left one team member feeling very much alive! (No worries, he is just fine—in fact, NO injuries so far, just a few scratches and scrapes; as I say, if you don’t bleed, you haven’t done anything!)

            A new law in Ecuador prohibits the sale of alcohol on Sundays, putting a bit of a cramp in our daily visits to “Two Degrees South,” the little open-air spot we stop to enjoy a cold beverage after the builds. Ricardo, the owner, chose to ignore the law today, and opened up to serve us, offering fresh fried plantain chips. We presented him with one of our Hogar 2011 T-shirts as thanks.

            After a dinner of beef, rice, and salad (dessert of fresh fruit), we had a time of debriefing the day, answering the question, “What did you hear God say to you today?” then had communion in the little chapel, before settling in for movie night (The Expendables.)

            Breakfast at 7:30 tomorrow, we leave at 8:30 to buy more water and Gatorade, then we hope to build 2 more homes. Our plan is to have dinner tomorrow (Monday) night at the sports bar we found last year, and watch the NBA Finals, if they don’t wrap up tonight.

            For those of you reading, rest assured that the people we serve, if they are praying the words of Psalm 70, are finding their prayers answered in and through your husbands and loved ones. These guys are great!

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