Today we begin working on Noel’s house. There was a wind storm that blew off the roof of the house and one of the walls collapsed. We thought we would be rebuilding the wall but as it turns out we are going to help build a new brick home. The home is about 10’ X 20’ and there will be 2 rooms. Those of you with great math skills probably have already figured out that each room will be about 10’ X 10’. There is one door into the room that will be used for cooking. The other room I assume will be used for sleeping. I was able to look into the first room of the old house but the inner door was covered to the other room. That house was made of mud “bricks” and has a dirt floor.
The foundation of cement has already been formed, poured and dried last week so that it would be ready for us. We arrive to find the fundi (craftsman) and his helper already at work. The helper was busy hand shoveling sand and cement and then mixing it with water for the mortar.This is NOT done in a wheelbarrow but on the ground, the women and girls are bringing up water from the nearby river in buckets and old plastic containers. Anything heavy is carried on their heads! As with most construction projects, it takes a bit of time at the beginning to get everything right and so we did a bit of standing around. It wasn’t too long and the fundi and Tom had it marked out where the outside of the walls needed to be and we began to lay brick. One can hardly call the bricks square but we did receive a little instruction as to which side should be up and how to line them up as close as possible to the guide string. We are thankful for experienced help to guide the process. We also notice rather quickly that we are not in Siouxland. The weather is warm (some might say hot!).
In the process of working on this house we attract a number of children. We soon learn that they likely do not attend school because their families cannot afford the cost of school uniforms. Lori and Patti engage with the children part of the time. Tootsie Rolls seem to be a real hit. Later I notice an old boy having a few “words” to the younger boys who have stopped by to watch. I think they were supposed to be bringing the cows down to the water. It looked like he was not too happy with them and they went running off, herding the cows along. After a while (which is to say after schoolwork is done) the Meyer family joins us at the work site and they also pitch in and help.
At noon we begin the walk back to the STEMM orphanage . . it’s only about a 20 minute walk but it is HOT and very dusty. We must be quite the sight . .a bunch of sweaty, white people walking down the dusty road as everyone who we meet along the way stop what they’re doing to stare and smile!
In the afternoon Patti and Lori get a chance to play with the children at the orphanage. They love to play with our hair and put little ponytails in Patti’s hair, and TRY to braid Lori’s hair. Sunglasses are also a big hit and they love to try them on, and see themselves in the reflection. We taught them the song “Alleluia, Praise Ye the Lord” and they catch on very quickly! We are amazed at how well they play together and how little crying or fighting we hear. They are beautiful, happy and content children. We gather with the children on a woven mat under the shade of a tree for a time of devotions . . .today it’s Moses and the 10 plagues! It’s soon snacktime and we join the kids for peanut and pineapple juice. We leave as they start their nightly routine of showers, supper and an early bedtime.
After lunch we spend some time reviewing the schedule for the week of things we hope to accomplish and people we will try to see. About midafternoon Tom, Latham and I head back to the Noel home to lay a few more bricks. The weather is hot, the work is slow but we are beginning to get a feel for how it should be done.
We enjoy supper with the Wiley family and then are joined by the Meyer family for a time of devotions. There is thought of a campfire to watch the full moon make its appearance, but we are too tired!! Time for OUR showers and bedtime!!