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Day 4: Wednesday, 10/20/04

The morning was cool and cloudy again, and thank goodness it lasted until after lunch so we could buckle down and work hard without so much fatigue. At left, Gary Fry of the Hazelwood church finishes hooking up electricity to the meter box.

In Piedras Negras, residents are billed flat rates every month for electricity, just as we are billed for water or gas (if we're on the "budget plan"). They pay extra if they go over, but there's no refund for using less electricity than their flat rate pays for.

Gary, an electrical engineer, is one of several Hazelwood members who brought their specific skills to this mission. Kedge Benge from Hazelwood and Keith Hann, a friend of Andy Phillips from North Liberty, are both plumbers. And several of the Hazelwood members work in construction-related trades.

The big job today at the first house was to raise the trusses for the roof. Here, Jeff Cooper and Mark Cooper nail down the first truss after it was raised. Most of the work crew spent their time standing or walking on the tops of the walls today, bringing up truss after truss and securing them in place. By the time we stopped for the day, all 15 trusses were up.

We didn't manage to get photos of the other house site today, but they have finished laying cinder block and today began pouring cement columns everywhere walls intersected. The columns are reinforced with steel rebar. Rob and Abby Wilkes were there today. Rob hung out with the cement mixer a lot.

At left is Abner, who works for the mission. He's with us at the site every day. He's vital to us, the person to go to when you need to know what to do or what's going on. Abner speaks English very well, so he provides a much-needed link between us and the mission and the local area. For example, when we run out of drinking water, he tells us where to go to get more, about how many pesos it should cost, and what to say to get what we need.


 

 

 

Here, the crew has put up about half the trusses. The rest of us spent a lot of time moving out of the roof crew's way and trying to work in places where they weren't working. They were on a serious mission to get those trusses installed today, and they did get them all in before we quit for the day.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, there was more stucco to apply and more mortar to build up around the windows. At left, Jim Grey applies stucco near the top of the wall. The stucco and mortar crews were starting to feel a little loopy and gritty by the end of the day, but kept at their work. The house's exterior was entirely coated in stucco by the time we finished today -- but in fairness a crew from the mission did a lot of work, too, and boy did they work fast. We let some of the stucco dry too hard before we got to sanding it, so now we have to apply a second thin coat tomorrow to get it smooth. If we're careful and spread the stucco very evenly, we might not have to sand that coat. The window crew deserves a medal for patience as they work, trying to make these windows fit in too-big holes.

Here we are at lunch. Every day, lunch is brought out to us. Rob and Abby Wilkes and the rest of the crew at the other house walk the 2 blocks to join us. Today we had roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn, and brownies. Yesterday it was spaghetti, and the day before it was pulled pork. They're really feeding us well!

We all got showers right after we finished work today so we could eat dinner and go to the church for an evening service. Again, they chose songs in both English and Spanish for everyone to sing. Our entire group also sang a song for the congregation. We sang what we're calling our theme song, Step by Step. Here are the lyrics:

O God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You
O God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You

I will seek you in the morning
And I will learn to walk in your ways
And step by step, You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

And I will follow You all of my days
And I will follow You all of my days
And step by step, You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days