Thursday, March 9, 2017

February Construction Team

Our last trip, our last Encounter, our last communion, our last holiday, our last short term team. As April 20 looms closer, we are experiencing and planning more of our “lasts.” Our last Sunday is Easter Sunday. What a horribly depressing way to celebrate the purpose of the universe. The short term construction team that visited us last month was a huge blessing in a difficult time. For those of us transitioning out of Extreme and feeling like we have less and less to do, it was a perfect distraction. For those of us continuing on and feeling more and more the weight of our ministries, it was an encouragement to see so much productivity in such a short time frame.

The team itself was made up of old Extreme veterans. For some, this was their fourth Extreme construction trip, having built our churches in Arequipa, Ambato, Antofagasta, and now Córdoba. And that’s just with Extreme. Some have been on as many as twenty work and witness trips with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. Three couples were from Michigan and the other four were from New York. Added to our team of missionaries from the northwest and the south of the U.S., we had a great mix of accents and cultures from our own country.

As with all short term teams, we took the first day to tour the city and pray. After two years, it was refreshing to watch Americans explore our home for the first time. We visited the university and a couple cathedrals, ate some local food, talked about the political situation, and prayed for the city at every stop. It set the tone for the rest of the trip. More than construction, we need prayerful servants. Each work day also started with a devotional and prayer time.

The original construction goal was a new Sunday school classroom. Our church building is actually a house we are slowly turning into a church. We’ve already taken out a wall between the living room and kitchen to open up a sanctuary space, but it’s very narrow and long. We want to take out another wall between the living room and the garage to widen the space, but we needed the garage as a classroom. A new classroom frees us up to take out this wall when we have the resources in the future. In the weeks before the team arrived, Pastor began dreaming up other small projects that could be completed with the extra man power. In the end, the team completed the new room by adding walls and a roof to an upstairs patio. They also created an extra bedroom out of a small storage area, poured cement in the outdoor patio, moved the downstairs kitchen to the outside, built a platform in the sanctuary, stained all the children’s furniture, and painted everything. In two weeks. Seriously. Check out the pictures. They were rock stars.

Another of the team’s “side projects” was Marcelo, the construction foreman. After six months of remodeling and fixing things that break, he’s been our on-call guy for just about everything. He’s developed friendships with Pastor and a couple other men in the church, but has been hesitant to get involved. Last Christmas, he brought his wife and two daughters to our Christmas dinner in the church. Since then, his wife, Agostina, has attended church a couple times and has started attending a house of prayer. But Marcelo remained distant. After working for two weeks alongside Christians, seeing their commitment, perseverance, patience, he had nothing but appreciation for them. They couldn’t communicate with each other directly, a 40/40 missionary was always around to interpret, but the still made a huge impact. The greatest impression they left on Marcelo was on their worst day. Towards the end of their time here, the church was robbed while everyone was outside working. The two short term missionaries who were staying in a spare bedroom of the church had all of their electronics and a lot of money stolen from their room. Through the chaos of figuring out what had happened, dealing with the police at the church and at the police station, and eventually recovering most of the items, everyone stayed calm. The construction work continued. People prayed. People forgave. At the end of the day, Marcelo pulled Pastor aside and simply said, “I want to be a part of this church.” Pretty cool. 

At the university, the first stop of the prayer walk.

Laying pipes for the outdoor kitchen before pouring cement.

Joyce and Darla staining pallets for the platform.

The first Saturday, at about 7pm, after a full day of work, it was clear that the platform wouldn't
 be finished in time for the morning service. We called in some local church members who came
 to relieve the short term workers. They stayed at the church until 2am to make sure everything
 was ready for Sunday.

The before.

Some things had to be destroyed before new things could be built.
Dry wall had to be hung in some precarious places.
Staining with wood for the ceiling of the kids' room.

Marcelo hanging the wood slats stained by the ladies.
Marina and Luca teaching the first class in the brand new room.

The worship team on the new stage.

This poorly used storage are became a bedroom with a door and window for Edivaldo,
a new missionary who will be staying to help the pastors after we leave.

These cabinets used to hang in the stage space of the sanctuary. They were moved to the
 outdoor grill area and new counters were built to create a usable kitchen.

The short term team with our pastors.