Day 5: Thursday, 10/21/04
This morning, as every morning, we started our trip to the job site by stopping at a convenience store to get clean water, ice, and Cokes. The Mexicans really understand what convenience means -- you can drive through, as the picture at left shows. Just tell them what you want and pay, and they load it right in your car or truck.
Piedras Negras is right on the U.S.-Mexican border, so most places accept dollars. The informal exchange rate is one dollar to 10 pesos. Most places give you change in pesos. Prices on the things we commonly buy are sometimes more than what we're used to, sometimes less. 2-liter Cokes are usually $2, but a 1-liter bottle of purified water costs 30 cents.
Yesterday's diary entry described how columns are poured. The photo at right shows it. You can see the wire form sticking up out of the center of this column. Boards are fitted around the area where the cement is poured, to hold it in. Here some of the boards have been removed because the cement has dried. The boards can generally be pulled off after the cement dries, but sometimes a board will be stuck really good and require some muscle to remove. After the column is poured, the wires stick out at the top and must be cut.
Here's Abby Wilkes working to remove a stubborn board from one of the columns. Abby was part of the crew who worked at Albino and Ophelia's house, and this crew's workmanship was of excellent quality. Albino was pretty active in the construction of his house, directing workers so he would get what he wanted.
Here's Rob Wilkes, looking like he's been working really hard! The crew at Albino's house included Rob, his daughter Abby, Pam Brock from Hazelwood, and Darby Huntsman. The crew was small because the house's lot was very small. They finished all the cinder block and columns for the house's first floor today.
The crew doing windows at Albina's house chose to ride out to the work site at 6:30 am to take advantage of the cooler weather and of the ready availability of ladders, which tend to be scarce when the whole crew is present. Building up the mortar around the windows is slow work that requires a lot of patience. Lynn Golden, who is Sue Wilkes's sister, stands on a ladder at left putting mortar on her trowel.
Matt Miller spent a lot of time helping Gary Fry run electrical wire. Here's Matt in the rafters working with the junction box. Wiring for the walls had to go up just as the rafters themselves were being raised because the roof crew intended to lay the tin over the roof before they went home today. This roof doesn't have any attic space to crawl through, making it important to run the wire before the roof was complete.
The stucco crew spent the morning applying a second coat to cover up mistakes they made earlier. By today, they'd become quite adept at spreading the stucco flat and smooth, but it wasn't so on earlier days. At right are Jim Grey and Sue Wilkes.
Here's the stucco crew taking a break. In the mornings it was easy to forget to stop -- it was always cool and cloudy, and a light mist was usually falling. But we needed frequent water breaks nonetheless.
With Sue and Jim is Dawn Edmondson. Others wandered on and off the stucco crew, including Andy Phillips and Keith Hann. Keith was really good at sanding the stucco after it had dried a bit, and Sue was right behind him in her skill. Jim never quite got the hang of it.
In this photo, Albina is at the far left and her son is at the far right. They will live in this house. Albina wanted to begin moving in as soon as the roof was on! There is still much to be done in the house, however -- a ceiling needs to be installed, the interior needs stucco, and more.
Standing second from right is Juan Carlos, who works for the mission. He's been a real help to us this week, driving us back and forth and showing us how to do the many jobs we've undertaken.
Here's the crew that worked on Albina's house. Jim Grey's in the back row on the left. Andy Phillips, Keith Hann, and Matt Miller are in the middle row starting on the left. And Lynn Golden and Sue Wilkes are in the bottom row, starting second from the left.
Today is our last day of service to the mission and the Christians here. We've worked hard and have enjoyed it, simply serving, doing the work that God has placed in front of us.
We did take time today for a little fun. Most of us boarded a bus and went into town today to do a little shopping at the town market. The market sells mostly trinkets, jewelry, T-shirts, sombreros, and other touristy things, but we all spent a little money there picking up little gifts for our loved ones. Much of the market is inside, but the photo at left shows some of the shops that are outside. The merchants at the market barter with you, so when they stated their price we always knocked a couple dollars off to see if they'd go for it. They usually did. One merchant and his wife asked where we were from, and when we said "Indiana," they asked why we were visiting. When we explained, they lit up with excitement and shared with us that they, too, were Christians and had been for sixty years, and were so excited to meet brothers and sisters in Christ from Indiana.
The mission fed us a wonderful meal of fajitas tonight, and then we went into town to see traditional Mexican dancing and a few vocalists singing. We then came back to the mission for our last devotional, shared our thoughts and experiences with each other as a group, and then, at about 20 to midnight, called it a day. We'll board our buses at 8 am tomorrow for the trip home. We'll be back late in the afternoon on Saturday.
We've worked hard at what God has set before us on this trip, and we're glad for the opportunity!