Today was an Ibuprofen day. But before I talk about that, I promised some of my friends I’d make a call out to them, so please disregard the next sentence. Hi to the Westheights senior youth from Nicaragua, hi to Caitlin from the marshmallow people, hi to Brooklyn from all the purple unicorns, and hi to Jared and Mom.
Like I said before, today was an Ibuprofen day. I started out today with a nice, normal wakeup call at 6:00 am, got changed (into my skirt), and went for a breakfast of pancakes and pineapple. We all went off to work, expecting nothing different than the previous day. The kids program was run by the usual teachers today, so I didn’t expect that I would be doing anything. I was right, up until about 9:30, when the women, who were doing nothing but chatting, got a message from the men that they needed water fast. So we went to the local Walmart-like store and got 6 jugs of cold water, and carried them back.
On the way back, I got a chance to get a good look at some of the ‘houses’ that they lived in. A high percent of the houses were twigs holding up flattened sheets of metal, with most of it rusted. There were open windows, laundry outside, stray dogs so thin you can see every bone in their bodies, and chickens roaming free on the streets. Yes, chickens, and darn healthy ones if you ask me. Apparently, the locals have boxes in their houses that they let the chickens stay in with food, and in return, the chickens lay their eggs in the box for the person to sell.
When we got back, I gave some juice to my dad, and he discovered a guitar that was broken “beyond repair”. After that, I, Josh, and my dad started to clean off the instrument. Mrs. Melanie had gone out to buy a new guitar from a local man who makes guitars to sell. The three of us working on the broken guitar started working at about 11:00. We ended at about 3:30, with a half hour lunch break. That guitar took a lot of work, and through the whole time we were working, my dad kept saying “All it needs is a little bit of elbow-grease”. What a guitar.
By the time we were finishing up with the guitar cleaning, the kids started to arrive. These are the best kids you’d ever meet, even though they don’t speak English, and you can’t communicate with them that you don’t speak Spanish. The kids kept talking to me, and I stood there helplessly as they chatted to their heart’s content about something I didn’t understand. I kept looking over to find this one particular group of older boys (11-12) looking at me and using my name, but I didn’t know what they were talking about. I found out later that kids here get married at a very early age compared to us. Our translator, Else, was nowhere to be found, so I was stuck being swarmed with kids talking to me and giving me presents. They gave me a variety of things, including their crafts, letters, notes, drawings, stickers, and hugs. I counted out 12 gifts that had been given to me. One girl, Nicole, gave me a purse and a bracelet she had bought for me. I found that really nice of her. These kids don’t have a lot at all, but what they do have, they’re willing to share with everyone and anyone. I found it interesting that even though I can’t speak to them or understand them, they still seem to love us all as if we’re old friends. I know two phrases in Spanish, Gracias (thank you), and ne hablo espangoles (I don’t speak Spanish). With those two phrases, I made it to 4:00 pm.
We had been told that cement blocks were coming in, but we had NO idea what we were in for. The truck pulls in at 4:30, with 800 blocks about the size of a watermelon. Have you ever seen army ants, carrying these huge pieces of food as they run along in a straight line up and down and wherever? Yea? Well that’s what we looked like. You watch one block, and it is flung out the truck, caught at ground level, and passed through about 20 people to finally be stacked on the second floor. We didn’t have nearly enough people with just the men, so we recruited the women to help, too; and our translator. We even got two of the older kids from the kids program passing blocks along. The block makes four sharp turns, goes up a flight of stairs, and stacked up along the side of an unstable roof. I did nothing but cheer on the team. I was apparently too small to help. About an hour later (and 400 blocks), we decide that we’re running out of time and energy, so we put the blocks on the main floor, instead. Wahoo!!!! We’re done by 5:20, and out the door for church.
At church, we attended a Spanish service. Spanish. That says it all. We understood absolutely nothing. And sat there smiling as everyone else was engaged in the sermon. We were invited up and we sang “Blessed Be Your Name” in English with the new guitar we bought. It was pretty good, and Mrs. Melanie sang a few more songs, in Spanish and English. It was overall okay, and the people really had spirit when they sang.
By the end of the day, after the kids, and the walking, and the bricks, and the church service, we all crashed into bed. We all ache somewhere (or everywhere), and we’re all glad we got to help. Everyone’s crashed in bed but me. I’m still typing this up for you, and I hope you enjoyed this. Like I said right from the beginning; Today was an Ibuprofen day.
Here are some pictures from the day (click any photo for a larger version):
See more photos of the team from this day in this Facebook photo album