We just completed one of the largest projects needed at Casa Cristana El Alfarero (the ministry house). We repaired the concrete roof over three big sections of the building. The house is very old and cracks had developed that allowed moisture to penetrate the ceiling and even the walls in places.
To complete the project properly we hired Patricio who is an expert concrete contractor and a pastor to a congregation in the mountains. He did the layout using carefully placed strings as guides. He also did the trowel work. His 16 year-old son, a teen-aged friend, translator Martin and I (Stephen) were the four labor helpers to get the cement mixed and delivered for the trowel work. Everything was done by hand. It is a very different approach to anything I had seen in the US.
Virtually every building in the area and most of Mexico is built with concrete. Walls are constructed with concrete blocks and finished with stucco. There are solid concrete pillars with metal rods every so many meters in the walls and a solid cap on top to help support the roof. The roof is made with a solid 10 or 12 centimeter concrete and metal rod slab. Some roofs are flat with a slight pitch and some are more obviously pitched. Windows and most doors are metal frame. There is almost no wood used.
For our roof project a specific grade of gray sand was delivered along with 10 bags of cement. To mix the concrete a border is made in part of the sand with the cement shoveled into the middle and water added. Then the real labor begins. Men on shovels start mixing until a slurry of the mixed concrete is achieved. The slurry mix is then shoveled into buckets and passed from one to another until it is poured in front of Patricio who spreads it with his trowel or board and using his strings as guides.
The work took the better part of two days. I have to admit I have not done that much physical labor in a while but it was a lot of fun. We talked about the Lord, the Bible and just cut up a lot. I was the oldest laborer of the group and my fellow workers often made comments about the number of Tylenols I would need that night to sleep. There was some truth to their kidding, I was sore.
In addition Patricio brought his two younger children one day. We had bought some play equipment and I let them use it. I even taught them how to throw a frisbee and shot a few hoops with a basketball. I told Patricio to bring the little ones again as it gave me someone to play with. They made the comment that I was old enough that I was becoming a child again.
The end result of all our labor is that all the biggest jobs are complete at the ministry house. The roofs is fixed, the windows are all in, most of the house has been painted, the plumbing is almost complete (we still have to change two broken toilets) and the propane is in place.
We have already used it to begin hosting a Wednesday night dinner party for individual pastors and their families to learn more about the needs of Christians in the area. Pastors are beginning to talk about a possible revival at the site and we are considering some kind of ongoing youth and children Christian teaching activities.
Also, Tonyia is planning a special women’s event toward the end of summer.
Please pray that we will continue to know how the Lord wants us to use Casa Cristana El Alfarero. All of this is for Jesus and His Kingdom. Praise the Lord!