April 1, Saturday - Well this was supposed to be the big day. I got up to see how prepared the roof was for the big pour. Still had some minor electrical tubing to do but everything else looked ready to go. Elevator was delivered, and ready to be setup. Workers needed to bring around mixer and cement and when the elevator operator was ready, time to move ... problem is that the 'electrician' or 'operator' never showed up .. Poor Abel had his workers all set, standing around waiting for the guy. Went to lunch, still by 2pm no operator. Too much risk to operate ourselves, as it's a 3 phase electrical motor and all, so Abel made the decision to quit till Monday. All the cement bags had to be taken back to the front of the building again and the mixer put back in the garage. An entirely wasted day. The crew that work for the 'operator' had to come and take down their elevator. Abel has another one coming on Monday, one that we used before on the mission building, so we know the operator I guess. Lost two days of setting for the 2nd floor which could be important as we try to work the overall planning of what we can get done on this trip.
Busy day otherwise. Had movie night for the village later on screening 'Storks". They all applauded at the end.
April 2, Sunday - Headed off to early services in Ica in the morning, the Sanchez's and Irma were going to the 10:30 am (later) service. After we left church, we went to Maestro to get some more lumber, screen, and a few items for mission projects to do. We had a pickup taxi meeting us at 11:30am and then directly back to the Mission.
Had a siesta before the evening activities started. Also got a call from Abel with notice that the new elevator operator was coming by to setup. Glad that is moving forward, which should result in a very busy tomorrow construction wise.
We had a very large group of kids for youth activities and worship and bible study which was overlapped while they were upstairs studying, with adult worship and services downstairs. Excellent Sunday activities. Got some great footage (probably too much, as usual) of all the leaders and volunteers .. what to do with it all .. will have to make another video of today.
April 3, Monday - Well, rescheduled 'big day' for the construction crew. They worked all day and we actually ran out of cement, had to go borrow three bags from another local job site. Got down to the last of the sand and gravel as well. Will have to put another order in probably next week because we will have another big pour for the downstairs once it's all prepped. But the elevator 'machine' worked great, problem was that the crew of 4 on the ground with the cement mixer could not keep up to it and the two with wheelbarrows on the roof. Abel started to fill the top of the stairs and it kept going down the stairs, of course, so he was curious it seemed if he could fill the stairs this way and kept trying but ... no, it eventually escaped at the bottom .. had to go down and put it back in and do it the old fashion way, one step at a time, from the bottom to the top.
Big job, not quite done yet, as we usually have a little 'roof topping celebration' when they complete a floor top, and haven't yet heard from them .. but any minute. Hard working crew. After they are done, it will sit for a few weeks and harden, while they spent that time on the first floor, getting the walls 'tarejeo'd' (stucco), running electrical and low voltage circuits, getting the floor poured, rounding up a door and window person, and more ... Then in two weeks it's back upstairs to take out all the 'trees' and start on the tarejeo there, as well as adding drywall inner walls (a first for the mission). Much to do in the rest of our time here.
April 4, Tuesday - Mucho construction all week ... Not to mention continuing knitting and crocheting on this day, Tuesday, with both the adults and youth.
Today, construction moved downstairs to the first floor of the new building, to do the needed 'tarajo' work (a.k.a. stucco in the US). This was the process for the whole five remaining work days of this week, Tuesday through Saturday. We did get a large order of cement today, that would also pay back the 3 bags we borrowed to finish the big job upstairs. Onward, to finish the youth center.
April 5, Wednesday -
April 6, Thursday - Today we had an interesting call from the 'mayor' of San Juan Bautista district. We have been working with his staff lately with their request for a youth program down in the district 'seat' of the village of San Juan Bautista, which is about 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) south of us, a little beyond our immediate focus, but what a great offer that we could not turn down. Now they have a different request. Ageda, our next door neighbor and representative of our village of El Carmen & Invacion, set up the meeting and was present as well as two other council persons representing Fanabi (southern most area) and El Olivos (northern most) of the San Juan Bautista district. Apparently, the big city of Ica, just to our south was able to get 10 used (in good shape) garbage trucks donated to them, from a German concern. They came to us with our USA connections to ask if we could help them get a single garbage truck for the District. We committed to try. We also gave the three of them a bible as a gift and prayed with them (Ageda already had one). Overall great meeting ... now to find that garbage truck!! Mayor committed to pay freight!! ;-)
We had another busy knitting & crocheting gathering. This is excellent considering that over a week or two ago, we made some announcements that we needed to change the rules on paying for the yarn, and any free yard would be assuming that the 'finished good' would be for the mission to use for the needy, and a few other changes. Apparently it had minor effect on stemming the enthusiasm. It did go down a bit for a meeting or so but continues strong and growing based on today's numbers. And every session ends with the youth going upstairs and the adults staying down, and spending a good amount of time in prayer with each other. Very impressed with where this is going.
April 7, Friday - This was a busy work day with construction. We ended up at the end of the day walking to Altura. Irma talked me into doing the lesson that evening based on Luke 23:33-43, the three crosses. So, I spent a lot of the day preparing. We had a great lesson, and as always I learned a lot as well by doing the preparation and delivery. Lily made it at the last minute, finishing up her planning meeting with Abel on the construction and getting dropped off. She served as my translator which was very helpful.
April 8, Saturday - Good day of construction today, although a short day always on Saturday, by a few hours, but much accomplished. Pretty much finishing up the "major" Tarajeo (stucco) work on the first floor, but still having a lot of detail tarajeo to do with columns, beams, bathroom, small walls, etc. We will hopefully get the electrical and low voltage pipes in place and get the floor poured late next week. We also need to start working on the 'patio' that will be an extension of this first floor children's center. But a lot of progress today.
In the evening we had an appreciation gathering with pizza for a lot of the volunteer youth that help so much with the mission functions, handling the children, participating in worship and dance service, giving out bibles, handling the children (did I say that twice? Believe me, that is a LOT of what they do and with so many children, 50+, it needs to be said a few more times ..) These volunteers, youth and adult, are the life-blood of the mission and the Sanchez's deserve great 'kudows' for their organizing, managing, directing, and leading them with prayer and clarity in function.
April 9 - Sunday - Headed to Ica for church services at El Shaddai. Before we headed to town, we posed for a photo in front of the mission to send to our church back in San Diego. It's not often we have on our Sunday blue-jeans! ;-)
We went ahead of the Sanchez's and Irma, just to get there as often it is difficult to find a taxi/collectivo for 6 people. They caught up afterwards so we met at church together.
After service, Lily and I headed off to Maestro for a few items for construction, and then took a taxi into town for some grocery shopping. She is buying up some food for me to eat (I added chocolate ice cream, ginger ale and chocolate milk) since she's going to leave me for 5 days for Lima tomorrow morning. When we were grocery shopping at Toto's, we ran into Julio and Cecia as well, so we all rode back to the mission together. Apparently Yareni and Irma went ahead.
I was going to go with Lily to Lima, but there is a lot I need to work on here, with the construction crew and my own items. She will meet our own daughter, son-in-law and niece, before they head to Machu Pichu for a few days, and when they return will commute with them back down to the mission for next weekend. Some things to get done in Lima as well next week include getting some brick templates made for some sand blasting for new donors, work with cable company for an internet swap at the apartment, and look for a few car parts for our vehicle down here.
Anyway, we moved our 'fiat fiasco' automobile 'projecto' to the car painters home a few doors down the street here as well, someday it will be reasonable transportation again!
We had a great youth activity and service today, with I think 41 children. Very busy service, lots of volunteers, and good attendance for the adult service as well.
April 10, Monday - Lily left me bright and early, having me set my alarm for her to get out in time to get to Ica to catch her bus. I believe she was slated to get to Lima around 1pm, long before Suzette and Gilbert arrive from LAX closer to midnight. Lily had a meeting with CONEP, a national church organization while in Lima.
Had a good construction day today, with much more terajeo going on the columns, and smaller wall sections. Abel and I did the planning for the three 'cajas', one electrical box, one internet/TV low voltage box, and a third box just for audio/video cabling. All these boxes will have independent tubing running into them for their respective wires or cables to flow. I think we are the only internet enabled building in El Carmen, doing the same thing in this building but also planning for a good theater like speaker system for entertaining the residents as well. All these tubes and boxes have to be in place before they are "terajeo'd" over. Ran out of PVC 'elbows' so Abel will have to bring some more in the morning .. but a lot of progress.
At night the Sanchez's went to Pastor Martin's house to work with his wife, Koddy, who is a new student with the same online bible school that they are. This school in Mexico has gained about eleven (11) students down here for bible training. Impressive.
April 11, Tuesday - New day, although without my wife, was quite active facebook messaging with her in the early hours. Our daughter and son-in-law arrived last night with no problems, good to hear.
We started the morning here at the mission with prayer with Irma, Julio, Yareni and Cecia. Ageda joined us as well. After prayer, the host family from Invacion, another "Cecia" with her husband and two daughters, came over and the Sanchez's spent some private study with them as a family counsel opportunity. Beautiful family, and Cecia is very adamant about her faith, that one should not be mixing faiths, and also about her support and help with the mission at all times. We have become a real church to her, and it is a blessing to see her husband in great support, and I really enjoy their two giggly daughters.
Construction workers showed up but Abel went off to get some needed 'tubing and elbows' to continue the needed work underway. Good session of Knitting and Crocheting with the youth and adults as well. This will be the last Tuesday knitting/crocheting meeting for awhile, in light of the workload starting for the 12 weeks of Samaritan's Purse coming up. We will continue knitting/crocheting on Thursdays only through that period.
April 12, Wednesday - Lily still in Lima, construction continues. I am interfacing with the crew mainly to place electrical and internet box and receptacles. Lily picked up some templates for the donation bricks we are going to sandblast this trip.
Precious Ariana, who made friends with Cali Sybrandy last November, came by with Angeles younger sister to collect for a friend who is hospitalized from a bad mosquito bite. Irma and I heard the tale and both donated. Hope they can raise enough to be of some assist.
April 13, Thursday - Lily still in Lima. Construction continues to move forward primarily in finishing the ground floor, sometimes burning some rather late hours doing so. Weekly knitting classes go on as well. Home fellowships at two places.
April 14, Friday - Lily still in Lima. Construction continues.
April 15, Saturday - Lily still in Lima but will be coming this afternoon with our daughter and son-in-law. Construction continued today.
Big event today was having our kickoff Samaritan's Purse event in San Juan Bautista with 40 children, about 4.5 miles south of the mission. Early in the day, Julio and Yareni head to Ica to get the Samaritan's Purse supplies for our upcoming training for 160 children.
We had a lot of help with the youthful volunteers of the mission, as well as our own visiting daughter and son-in-law working cameras.
We sent down two taxi's of people, boxes and audio equipment. Was interesting. We first thought we didn't know if all 40 would show up cause they started to very slowly and then there was no question and the place got really crowded. There are many little glitches that should be worked out on the receiving end, but overall the children were ecstatic and of course receptive to receive a gift of love, prayer and friendship from across the miles. Lots of happy faces. Made a separate photo album just for this event and a lot of video yet to process. And on top of all that, we had 'Cine night' later this evening!
April 16, Sunday -Big day, we all went to Ica for church services (El Shaddai) in morning, and visiting Huacachina, and had a late lunch there before returning to the mission.
We will have 96 children over for our second Samaritan's Purse event, just prior to having services. We didn't have any formal childrens ministry as we usually do, so after the Samaritan's Purse event ended (as busy and chaotic as it was) we went into regular service mode for adults, any children that remained we took upstairs for a separate service. We were blessed to have Frank Londono and his wife with us, and Frank was our guest pastor. Frank's message was focused on the woman at the well who met Jesus. After the message was given Frank prayed personally with many individuals and it was very surprising as to how many people came forth for prayer, and how focused his prayers were never knowing any of those that prayed for. What a blessing. Additional photo album made for this far larger Samaritan's Purse gathering as well.
April 18, Tuesday - Construction continues to progress on the tarajeo, mainly exterior.
Fantastic third Samaritans Purse gathering, this time with the remaining 24 children that didn't show up Sunday. What a blessing that is given by those that put so much love into those boxes, and the joy on the faces as each child opens, many giving testimony as to how it contained what they really wanted or have been asking for. (A 3rd Samaritan's Purse photo album is available for all the photos of this event as well.)
Lily came back to the mission but was quite distraught. She had gone to the money changers while in Lima but in her hurrying to return for a very early bus, lost track of the the money she had just got exchanged. With the hope that the funds were left in the apartment in Lima, she immediately returned by bus to locate.
April 19, Wednesday - Major efforts started to move construction from ground floor back to 2nd floor, since they are done doing the 'tarajeo' downstairs and on all the exterior. Once they finish all the 'tarajeo', they will then return downstairs to work on the electrical, plumbing and pouring the floor, hopefully by mid next week.
Lily returned back again to the mission, but without the funds. She could only assume that they were left in the taxi while she was so hurried and was very upset to have lost so much money. Building this mission requires so much cash, primarily for paying the labor, and after 4 years of doing this we have never lost track of funds. This is a first. Being that this is 'God's money', and the detail tracking that Lily gives to each and every dollar, she was very upset. She was also deep in prayer with these two upsetting bus trips. We can only leave it in God's hands, since we have no way of getting hold of this random taxi driver that she engaged.
April 20, Thursday - A very heavy prayer day, as we are very depressed from loosing a large sum of money that was needed for the ongoing construction. We have no choice but to tap into our own funds to complete what we have committed and perhaps not finish anywhere near what we planned on this trip.
However, in checking the notification on the mission website, we had a message where we don't usually get messages. It was from the taxi drivers wife, stressing for Lily to call her husbands cell number. In doing so (and after his making sure that he was talking to Lily) he stressed how hard he has been trying to locate her, actually taking a day off work, and engaging multiple radio stations in Lima asking for Lily to call in. Since we are in Ica (4 hours south) and don't listen to the radio, we did not get any notice of course. But for his wife to actually find Lily from a money changer receipt and to locate her on the LAMA facebook page, is phenomenal indeed. What a blessing.
Lily told the taxi driver she would get on a bus in the morning, but he insisted for her to do it immediately since he wanted to meet her in the morning. Needless to say, Lily made immediate efforts to return to Lima for a third time, this time apparently to meet him at a radio station and this will be a positive message for the public to hear about the taxi drivers of Lima! We were committed to reward this good samaritan for his efforts to contact us and return the funds. Thank you Lord.
April 21, Friday - Lily arrived late in Lima last night, and packed very light. She went to meet him at 9am at the radio station, but went early to meet him at 8am not wanting to miss him. Lily waited till 9:45, taxi driver was on his way but plans were changed. He called the radio station and they never really came through, but he then called a local TV station which did. So Lily went around the block at a park to meet with the taxi driver, Carlos Jesus, and the TV reporter. This whole testimony was going to be broadcast on the news!!
I had asked Lily to take pictures and ask for a recording of the radio message, but not wanting to miss anything I had my cell phone radio on and recorder ready waiting through two hours and starting and stopping and recording nothing basically, of course not knowing what was going on with the switch from radio to television.
Lily had returned from Lima to the mission late by about 7pm, and she was relaying the story, when a relative of ours in Lima provided a link to the interview with an article and a 5 minute video of Lily and Carlos's reunion and the return of the lost funds. What a blessing. Lily had on a mission T-shirt as well, and a few brochures, so this turned out to be a short commercial for the mission, making it clear that these funds were intended for the building of the mission. The interview is enjoyable even if you don't understand Spanish, and Lily was giving full glory to God, and was ready to go into full testimony mode but the TV reporter decided to cut it off of course. Anyway, consider:
- Lily has been handling these funds for 4 years and has never had an incident
- We usually use a family relation for most of our taxi rides, but not this time.
- She was distraught over this for 3 days, 3 bus rides between Lima and Ica, where she was deep in prayer with God.
- Resigning that these funds were gone, we prepared to count out our own personal funds for conversion to local currency, and this was underway when we received the short text message and phone number from the taxi drivers spouse. This means that the message that started this reunion, left at about 3pm, I had coincidently received about the same time? I often don't get facebook messages for hours or days after they are left.
- Lily called him, he confirmed with many different questions, that she was who he was looking for. He told her he needs her to come to Lima, where he will return the funds but wanted to do it at a radio station for safety reasons. Lily was going to come next morning, but he insisted that she come that day and meet in the morning. He said that he tried to locate Lily and couldn't find her, and he had asked his wife to try to locate her via Facebook. He also wanted her to know one more thing, that he had picked up three (3) more passengers after dropping Lily off and no one saw the money. Lily then rushed to get to the next bus, leaving about 430pm from the mission. Anyway, Lily's off to meet her good samaritan cab driver, her 3rd trip to Lima in 4 days.
- Lily finally meets with Carlos Jesus, on nationwide television they have a reunion, exchanged the money in front of the television. Lily rewarded Carlos with 10%, after praying about it, in front of the TV cameras and he got pretty emotional not expecting it.
Carlos Jesus took Lily back to the bus station and he started sharing with her how the Lord has been dealing with him for two weeks. His wife is an active Christian, and he is a lapsed Catholic (his term). The finding of this money was sort of a confirmation with the Lord who has been dealing with him with his faith, with a lot of family issues with his siblings, his son and more. He discussed his son who is graduating at the age of 15 from high school and is trying to get admitted to MIT in the USA, he said maybe this is another reason they brought the two of them together. Lily told Carlos that he should be going to church with his wife and that this is a miracle and a blessing that he should be giving testimony on. She also invited him and his family to the mission, which he was most appreciative of, saying that he never takes his family anywhere!!
April 22, Saturday - Prayer in the morning, construction finished the 2nd floor tarejo for the most part. First of twelve Samaritan Purse classes for San Juan Bautista. Later that night we showed Fantastic four as a movie. Don't seem to have as many action hero's here as we thought, but was enjoyed by those that saw it.
April 23, Sunday - Off to church in Ica in the morning, did some shopping for a few items, took Raymundo with us who we met at church. Had lunch in Ica, said good bye to Raymundo, got groceries and then returned to the mission. Got ready for first Samaritan's Purse group (the large one) for El Carmen. After the children's session, we had regular church and had a guest pastor from El Shaddai.
While the adults were worshiping downstairs, the youth were staying upstairs for the opening of the quarterly mission store for them to spend their 'mision bucks' which they have earned over the months. We have a lot of school supplies we bought, clothing items that were donated, some in expensive watches, flashlights, and other fun items we brought down. What a popular event but we need to think out a better way of running it .. great effort and creativity has been put into this by the Sanchez's but other than have 2-3 kids get 2-3 minutes before timing out for the next 2-3 kids, can't think of a better way to run it. Takes a long time when you have 30-50 kids waiting to spend their 'mision bucks' !! ;-)
April 24, Monday - As to construction, a lot of tarejeo was done on the 2nd floor, and many cuts for electrical and internet tubing. Half the crew had to leave early though to attend a funeral for Abel's uncle who passed from many medical complications. Our condolences went with them. Full crew will resume tomorrow.
We are wondering how much we will finish by our departure in 3 weeks. So much to do. We are trying to complete the tarajeo process since we bought all the sand to do the job, and then we get the tubes all laid (electrical and internet) to pour the floor upstairs. While that is settling, we resume downstairs to make efforts on the floor, which should include an exterior patio, which might include another party wall on the south boundary of the property .. so many items to ponder.
April 25, Tuesday - Construction, still getting ready for the floor pour .. taking longer to do the final tarajeo than we thought. A column here, a window frame there, a beam, under the stairs, all the small areas take the most time.
We have one lady that comes by for knitting that we are trying to work with to take some of her crafts to the USA for