I wake up early, again. The night was actually very cool and there is still a chill in the air. I walk around the camp. Having been removed from most of my normal routine and comforts of home I notice that I have quickly developed “camp equipment envy”. From lighting, to nicer tents, and in particular nicer camp chairs (we have some plastic chairs, many of which collapse under my weight….is it the chair or me…..and lots of benches) I find much to be envious of. *sigh* Not a great way to start the day…..I take some comfort in the fact that at least I recognize it for what it is – sin. I take some time to just sit, pray, ask God to continue to strip me of all that I have brought that isn’t of Him – envy and all the other sins that strive to cling to my heart and mind. Sitting and listening I hear – roosters crowing and am reminded of Peter’s denial of Christ (but there is so much crowing I chuckle that it must not have taken long for the roosters to crow three times!) I also hear moments of quiet (how one actually “hears” a moment of quiet I’m not sure, but that is what comes to mind)……..moments that I listen closely for God. And I do feel His presence and am hopeful of what the day ahead will bring.
Our camp starts to stir. There are seven Jr./Sr. High youth that slept around the fire outside….how cool is that? I help get Alexey up and going. Packing up the sleeping bags so there is room to move in the tent, digging for clothes, locating toothbrushes, and finding shoes. Kimpa is in a good mood as is Alexey. We walk to breakfast and have scrambled eggs, bacon, cereal, etc. Then we pack a lunch, load up the water bottles, put on the sun screen, check that we all have hats and…….wait. While we wait Alexey and his buddy Peter run around and play various games. My parent instinct wants to tell him to stop, he is going to get dirty. But everything is dirty here – and luckily I remain silent. I wonder if Alexey has noticed how different his surroundings are – or is he just glad to have his best friend here and be playing a game. I think there is much less that needs to be stripped away from children and they are much closer to being the image of God (Eikons) that he originally created us in than most adults. What changes….what has changed in me?
Eventually we load up and take the crazy 45 minute drive to our worksite. Driving in Mexico is a story unto itself. We meet the family at our worksite. Mom/Dad and 4 kids – the oldest a 12 y.o. girl and youngest is a 3 y.o. boy. Kels, Michelle, and Katie are our best Spanish speakers so they do their best to greet/intro all of us and then talk to the family about where they would like their new home, the placement of the two windows and the door. They have a previous Amor built home but it is about 2 feet below the level of the space where the home we will build goes. We decide to pour a 24 foot slab so that the homes have a cement breezeway of sorts between them. We are anxious to get started.
As the “work” begins I start to notice that I am not alone. It seems strange to type that sentence even. Up until this point, most of my thoughts and observations have been about me. My experience, my perspective, how things are effecting me and my relationship with God….pretty much at the exclusion of others. But as the work begins, I see that I am in a community. I am just one piece of the puzzle and a part of the story that God is unfolding over the next four days. My gifts are limited, finite but essential……just as everyone else’s are. And as I see my limits, and there are many, I see the gifts of others blossom.
The goal for the day is to get the foundation poured. Sounds simple. But the sight has to be clear of debris, level, a frame made, and then….there is the mixing, pouring, smoothing of the cement. YIKES! Having virtually no construction experience I didn’t know what was coming. Around 2 in the afternoon we start mixing pouring cement. The first “tub” we mix and pour fills about a 1X2 foot square and seeing the small space it covers in our frame…..I am depressed. It is obvious we are in for a long afternoon. We struggle with the process for about 90 minutes but then we start to hit our rhythm as a team – somehow we have been sifted and sorted using our talents to maximum ability and we really start to have a nice flow of mixing, pouring, smoothing. Most of the team is involved in this process but a few of them are working on walls for the next day. Things are clicking – a hint of what I think living in rhythm with God must be like. Using your gifts to the max, working/living in community, serving others, and in the process somehow reconciling yourself, your relationship with God, others and the world all at the same time. Awesome!
By 6:30 the foundation is poured, we have 2-3 walls built, and we are tired….but content.
The best part of the day is as we leave the sight, the mom of the family peaks out, sees the foundation, her face is glowing, she is smiling, and she is clapping. Building a strong foundation leads to joy…….
Back at camp we eat, shower (such as it is), gather for worship and sharing, and then go to bed. It’s been a very long day, a day that deserves some reflection, but I am too tired to think and am just content at having finished the day well, knowing that God is listening, He is still stripping away baggage, that I am surrounded by others who will help carry me through and glad to be in this community of faith – not perfect – but accepted, growing, and transforming.