In 2016 we were planning a work crew from the Orrville church to come to Colombia. Those plans had to be canceled when my wife Jeanie, the love of my life, was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer and given only months to live. As I dedicated myself to caring for her we canceled all work crews for 2017 as I could not know what the future would hold or how long I would be needed by my wife as she transitioned from this life to eternal life. We also did not know what work crews we would be able to reschedule or if interest would be lost. All we could do was to put our future and all plans into the hands of the Lord and leave it up to Him.
2017 passed is a numbing whirl of events as my wife faded from this life and awoke in heaven on May 19. For the next month I was involved in the paperwork involved with someone’s passing and by early July I was finished and able to return to the work in Colombia. I directed the construction of the sports complex for which we had received a very significant donation and by the end of October it was completed and I returned to the states to finish the year out with family and speaking dates. During this time, the Orrville church rescheduled their work crew and there was sufficient interest to begin making definitive plans.
By early January I had returned to Colombia and was making preparation for the arrival of 15 members from the Orrville church. They arrived on February 9th and were in Colombia for ten days. Since they arrived late in the evening, we spend the first night in Bogota and then came down to the camp on Saturday. That afternoon we scoped out the projects and the crew rested from their trip. Then on Sunday it was Church in Villavicencio in the morning and in the afternoon part of the crew remained in Villavo for the youth kick off and the rest of us traveled to Puerto Lopez to visit the church there. It was a fun day but a long one.
On Monday the crew jumped right into the projects we had scheduled. Some of the ladies began painting the bleachers in the sports complex and another group of ladies began to work on Jeanie’s memorial gardens. The men began the process of digging the hole for the swimming pool and using the excavated soil to fill and level the playing field in the sports complex. The camp was humming with activity. Day one saw us getting everything well under way.
On Tuesday each crew continued to work on their project and the whole for the swimming pool started to take shape and the loads of fill in the sports complex were significant. The ladies started planting flowers and getting the flower beds moving along. The paint crew continued to work on the bleachers and by the end of the second day progress was obvious in all areas. Wednesday was more of the same as we worked to get the excavation finished and the painting done as well. The gardens were coming along nicely.
Thursday was our day to visit the school and so we loaded up in the morning and all headed to the school. We were there till eleven and then most of the group went to the zoo and a couple of us came back out to the camp to work on finishing the excavation of the swimming pool and the leveling of the playing field. By evening that project was completed and the rest of the crew arrived from the zoo trip.
Friday was dedicated to working on a the septic tank for the third cabin and the leveling of the playing field. We started a couple of small projects such as a fire pit and we put the finishing touches on the septic tank and the playing field. We tied up the rebar for the reinforcement of the swimming pool as we were getting it ready for pouring the concrete. By Friday evening we were nearing completion of our goals. Saturday was scout day at the camp and we enjoyed having the kids from our church scout troop present as tied up the loose ends on the projects we were working on. Then Saturday afternoon we headed back up to Bogota and checked into the hotel. Sunday we visited the Suba church and then headed to Monserrate for an explanation of Colombian folk catholicism and why we work here in Colombia. Monday morning it was early up and to the airport for the return trip.
The Orrville crew arrived back home late on Monday evening and left behind a legacy of a very significant amount of work that had been accomplished. The playing field is still dirt but it is level and usable. The septic tank is completed for the third cabin so we can put that facility to use as well. The swimming pool is dug and the ironwork complete and the Colombian workers are now rushing to try and complete it before rainy season. The crew made a significant contribution to the progress of the camp project. We are still lacking funds for the completion of the pool with is an urgent need. If your church can add to what the Orrville crew has done and enable us to get the pool finished in the very near future debt free that would be a tremendous blessing to the work here!