The first ten days in August are always special, because, along with the first full week in February, that is one of the times we plan a work crew each year. This year we again had a great group down for our work crew. On August 1st, I picked them up at 6:00AM. We went to the apartment in Bogotá for a couple of hours rest then made our trip up to Monserrate Mountain to visit a Catholic shrine and explain how Colombian folk religion functions. This helps the crew see why there is such a need for preaching Christ here. After our morning learning about local customs and observing the massive city of some twelve million people, we came down off of the mountain and headed to Villavicencio. It was a good morning for the drive but most of the crew slept as they were tired from the red eye flight into Colombia. We arrived at the camp around five that evening and had a good meal and then our devotions.
Sunday morning we were up early and off to worship service here in Villavicencio. It was an interesting experience for them as it was all in Spanish. There were some things quite similar, such as some of the choruses we sing. The church had one of the work crew members lead the communion service and another preach for the morning service. I translated for both, making it a great time of bilingual celebration and praise. After service we took the crew to the “Cachilapo” restaurant for a great meal of Colombian roast beef. This is similar to our “ox roast” as the meat is slow roasted over an open fire starting about four in the morning. The crew was treated to a demonstration of a local folk dance called “joropo.” Everyone enjoyed the meal and the cultural experience. After that we headed on down to road to visit the church plant in Puerto Lopez. Since we arrived a bit early there was time to visit a local tourist site; an obelisk that marks the geographical center of Colombia. After that we headed for the church and the crew got to experience the difference between a village church and a big city church. They got to see how these young churches struggle and sacrifice to provide themselves with a building as the church building there is only half built. After service it was back to Villavo for our evening devotions and missions teaching and then most took a short dip in the pool and then turned in for the night. It had been a busy and a long day but a good one.
On Monday morning the work crew was up early and had a hearty Colombian breakfast soup to start the day. The first task was to move some sixty cubic yards of fill into the foundation in preparation for pouring the slab. It started raining shortly after they started work but the crew was not fazed and just kept working away. Soon the rain stopped and for the rest of the week the days were perfect and any rain fell at night. For the rest of the day Monday and all day Tuesday the crew toiled away at filling the foundation, getting it all done right on schedule by Tuesday evening. As the main part of the crew worked on the foundation, a couple of them worked on finishing our chicken coop and one of two others started trimming the hedge. The camp was a bee hive of activity for these first two days and a lot was accomplished.
On Wednesday morning we got up and headed to the school. Once there we divided the crew up into four small groups and sent them around to different classes. The goal was for them to get our students to practice their English, listening to each crew member tell a bit about themselves and then have the students ask them questions. The crew members had brought school supplies that they gave out as prizes to those who did the best and to those who tried the hardest. This was great for encouraging the students to make a real effort. The morning was great fun for all and passed very quickly. By noon, we were heading back out to the camp for lunch. In the afternoon we finished up the final details on the fill and began compacting it with a compacter I had rented. By evening, we were ready to begin pouring the slab.
Starting early Thursday morning we started mixing concrete and pouring the slab with a concrete mixer I had rented. It is very strenuous work, but the crew skillfully traded off to give workers a break. But even those resting up from the pour were not content to sit around so they busied themselves with the chicken coop project. We poured all day and were more than half done by evening. Friday morning we plugged away and had pretty much finished the pour by noon, so we took a break for lunch and a rest. We celebrated this major goal of finishing the slab!
After lunch we began hauling the blocks to the slab with wheel barrows and bring in sand for the mortar as well. Soon we had an effective block laying crew going and the walls of the cabin began to go up. At the same time we could now afford to take people off of the slab and work hard on the chicken coop project and the hedge trimming as well. Both of those projects began to move along much more rapidly as we could dedicate more crew members to those jobs. We were again up early and working away Saturday morning. By noon we had quite of bit of wall up, finished the chicken coop project, and had all of the hedge trimming done. We had met all of our goals and then some!
We had our Saturday lunch, packed our bags, and climbed on the bus to head up through the Andes mountains to Bogota. We got in early that evening, had a sandwich, then headed over to the commercial center for a special treat: Crepes and Waffles ice cream, some of the best in the world. After our teaching session and devotions, we all turned in for a well deserved rest. Sunday morning we were up early to head out to visit the Suba church. This church was started some fifteen years ago with refugees from our very first church plant here in Colombia when the were forced to flee the fighting g during the worst years of the guerrilla war here in Colombia. Today this former shanty town has become a thriving section of Bogotá. After church we headed to the gold museum, which is the most spectacular display of pre-Colombian gold work any where in the world. After that we did some souvenir shopping then enjoyed a delicious Colombian filet minion steak; or the meal of their choice and topped it off with another trip to Crepes and Waffles for ice cream. After that it was time to pack bags and head to the airport. I said my goodbyes to a great group of friends as they headed through security. It was a great ten days and the third cabin went from being a dream to being well under way. We thank this work crew and we praise God for all they accomplished!