Yesterday was a life-changer.
After an Ecuadorian breakfast of plantains and eggs, guaraba juice and the same wonderful warm croissant-like rolls we´ve been enjoying so much, we drove to site number one, two hours away, dropped off team A, then continued on to the team B´s site (GO TEAM MACHETE!). By the time we arrived there, we had passed horses and cows and goats tied up along the side of the road, miles and miles of flooded fields, with horses, pigs, cattle, all belly or neck deep, just hanging out or wandering around. There was some sort of combine harvester farm equipment kind of deal, slightly tipped and deeply stuck in the mud, and still stuck when we passed it on the journey back home to the hostel.
It was quickly apparent that things were not going to move along swiftly with team b´s house. We walked the building materials and tools along the path by the water, over the sandbags and boards and then dropped them by the site...which was at least 3 feet deep in water. No trees or brush had been removed in preparation for the house, and it was soon discovered that there was a bees nest that needed to be dealt with.
Oh, and I´m not talking bumblebees.
These "bees" are black and the size of a loonie.
So we headed back to team a´s site to help them...but not before we told them we were done and thought they could use a hand since they were so far behind...
They were building like crazy and had already put in all the posts and were starting to lay the floor joists. This house was being built in a pig pen, so they´d had to be extremely careful about what splashed onto their faces as they were digging the holes for the posts, holes which kept caving in because of the flooded conditions. The team was dirty and tired but the place was abuzz with cheer and kindness and helpfulness and good humour.
When we were all talking later over dinner, Elsa said she was feeling this profound connection and deep love for the people of this city and then Tim really nailed today when he said that it was all about family.
The grandparents who had lost their home and had been living for years with their FAMILY: a daughter and her children, in this tiny, dark home, perched on stilts over the flooded land, had lost all hope of recovering that independence of a place of their own.
The man who had been going through the most challenging time of his life, trying to provide for his FAMILY, but just not able to manage it on his own any more, who was at the end of his ideas, but not of his faith and hope, worked tirelessly, side by side with the builders and volunteers, even wading knee deep through water and pig muck to move building supplies from the road to the house site.
We saw FAMILIES walking, working in fields, paddling impossibly thin canoes through rice fields, riding bikes, hanging out windows to look at us, sitting on porches, and then later in the city, sitting together and celebrating birthdays and special times with each other over a meal. I was even thinking, as we wove our way through the tables filled with FAMILIES, what a strange FAMILY we made.
But it´s a good FAMILY. And I was so proud of them all today.
For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:46-50 NKJV).