Monday, February 17, 2014

People and Snacks

One of the great things about community development projects is that they give you a chance to work with men who you might not see otherwise.  Maybe they live far from you or maybe they are not interested in what you are teaching, but because there is an opportunity to earn money they come and you have a chance to build relationships.

Most days I had between 30 and 50 workers.  It was a great time to strengthen old relationships and build new ones.  These guys worked hard and needed a good solid morning and afternoon snack.  In the village we can’t order pizza, so Heidi took on the responsibility of providing food.

Fortunately Heidi had help.  Arcely really uses her head when it comes to feeding people and with her help everything came together. 

She sent men to get coconuts to make coconut oil

Coconut oil and sticky rice were used to make a variety of sticky rice treats.

Once the snacks arrived on the work site, they didn't last long.

The afternoon snack was usually served under our house

Thank you Heidi for all the hard work you and Arcely did!  It was appreciated by all.

Cement, Sand, and Gravel

There is a lady in town who has a hardware store.  When I am in town I can deposit money in her bank account and she will get boats to haul cement to the village for me.  When I arrived in the village I found 81 bags of cement waiting for me.  That was great, but I needed 15 cubic meters of sand and gravel to mix with it.

In the village, sand and gravel come from the river.  Getting the gravel and hauling it to the school is a lot of work.  As you can see, the work site is much higher than the river.

First the workers had to find a good spot to get a bucket or a sack of gravel that didn't have rocks that were too large.

Then they had to carry it up the steep path to the school.

It took a lot of strength and it was amazing how much gravel was carried.

Once the gravel was at the top of the hill, each carrier made his or her own pile.  Every afternoon we shoveled the piles into a large cracker can which is the standard unit of measure for gravel here.  Heidi kept a tally and when all the piles were counted the haulers followed her home for a snack and their pay.

The sand was then measured again into a volcano shaped pile, cement was added, and mixed by shovel.  It is backbreaking work.

Finally buckets of cement are poured onto the forms and the experts put on the finishing touches.

On our last full day in the village, the workers had completed not just the pads for the posts, but all the flooring, stairs from the school to the playground, and a rock path.  I couldn't believe it.  What a blessing to see so much progress!

If you want to see the final product, check out the Iron blog: 


Getting a concrete pad on the ground is an amazing feat, but it is just the start.  When I asked Bob Hall, an Australian contractor with experience building in the Philippines if he could help me design the covered play area, I asked him to make it as typhoon proof as possible.  He did and this translated into tons of iron.  Iron in the concrete bolted to iron posts. Bolted to iron trusses.

20 foot long pieces of re-bar don’t fit in the helicopter very well, so the workers in town had a clever way of using a barrel to roll the re-bar into coils.

Of course, the concrete workers didn't want to use rolled pieces of re bar, so I had to pay 4 guys to hammer it straight again.  Rolling re-bar and straightening it out again turns out to be a good way to create jobs.

The helicopter tried flying posts into the village last January and decided it wasn't a good idea so the rest of the materials were loaded on a truck and sent to a town downstream from our village. This happened after we were already in the village.

One day when we were in the village we were told that boats were coming with our building materials.  What a surprise.  The boats are small, but can carry around 300 pounds of cargo.  The boat guys push them up the stream to our village because the water is so shallow.

The boat guys unloaded the cargo at the bottom of the hill near the school.  All the posts were there and most of the trusses.

On our last full day in the village, a crew of men carried the rest of the iron to the top of the hill.  Either the guys have a lot of faith in the wooden bridge planks or they didn't think about how much weight they were putting in one place.

The team worked all morning.

By noon, everything was stacked neatly on the work site and by late afternoon, all the concrete work was finished.  Heidi and I arrived home on Saturday afternoon and on Monday I heard that the last pieces of the structure had been sent upstream.  I talked to Bob Hall this morning and he is planning to come and construct the building this spring.  What an answer to prayer it is to be able to tell him, “Come any time, the concrete is down and all the materials are on site.” 

Thank you for your prayers! Thank God for his provision!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Home Assignment October

One of the best things about being on home assignment is getting to spend time with friends and family.  A couple of Sundays ago we were at Hood Canal Community Church for the morning service and were blessed to spend time with the Endicott family.  We enjoyed going on an afternoon outing with Lucy.  These pictures are from her camera.
It was raining when we left the house, but as Lucy said that if we went high enough in elevation, the rain would turn to snow.
Don't worry, I only eat white snow.

We all enjoyed being cold for a few minutes and then were happy to head down to lower elevations.
Fortunately, by the time we got down the mountain it had stopped raining.

We traveled to the far end of Lake Cushman and visited
Staircase, Olympic National Park.

The Big Cedar was not as tall as it was the last time I saw it.

At the park we looked back up into the moutains and enjoyed the setting sun shining on the new snow.
Then we headed back down the mountain to spend a great evening with our friends at Family Bible Fellowship.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Catching up

On the last day of May, we said goodbye to our pink house with green doors and orange trim. The floors inside were painted red. The walls, we won’t talk about the walls. It is very sad, but the truth is, we may never get to stay in such a colorful house again. 

It seems Carrie planned her graduation on the same day we moved out.  Or, was it Thomas… or was it Heidi.

To celebrate Carrie’s graduation from high school we went on a trip to the beach with some friends of ours and had a great time except for the part where the waves were crashing into the boat on the way over.

One of Carrie’s friends was baptized while we were there so we provided a little music for the occasion.

This is a warning:  If you spend too much time on Facebook or if you have a teenager advising you on how to pose for the camera you end up doing this sort of thing.

Picture from Carl Stevens
All beach trips come to an end and you must go back to work.  After the beach we went north and worked with three Isnag ladies, our partner, Vicky, and my consultant, Ginny, to check the Isnag version of the book of Mark and two chapter of Luke.  The other day a five year old told me that she was not five, she was five and a half.  I feel like I’m being a bit like that when I mention the two chapters of Luke.  The check was six very taxing days, but we all survived and Ginny was pleased with the end product including the two chapters of Luke.

With the translation check complete it was time to say goodbye to the Philippines.  We are always happy if we arrive at the airport with all of our bags, tickets, passports, and plenty of time to pass all the security inspections.

We didn’t think we had signed up for first class, but when they passed out the airplane food we began to wonder.  They wouldn’t give Yakult to economy class passengers, would they?

When we landed in Portland, Charles, our oldest son surprised us by meeting us at the airport.  Thomas, our youngest, counter surprised him by being much taller than Charles expected.

We have enjoyed seeing all of our family members.  This is my Grandma and my recently arrived niece Sarah.  I have been a good uncle for many years, but Sarah has managed to make me a great uncle.  

We have also enjoyed many family times with Heidi’s side of the family.  This is Sara, Heidi’s sister and Heidi.

After the wedding we only had enough time to unpack our suitcases and repack for a trip to Georgia and points beyond. Carrie and Thomas are both anxious to get their driver’s licensees.  We thought that maybe starting the training by being the captain of a canoe would be a good place to start.

(These two pictures from Dawn Parker)

One of our first stops was Monroe Baptist church where we got to speak to the children and adults. 

The kids were a great audience.  The adults were pretty good too.  Heidi is passing out souvenirs from the Philippines.

A couple of days later we arrived at Ft. Jackson where James was due to graduate from Army basic training.  One of the first things we noticed is that everyone in this tribe dresses alike.  The chiefs are very bossy and there are a lot more men than women. It was interesting to note that when one guy started walking all of the other guys quietly followed him and the first guy never looked back or noticed that he was being followed. 

Everyone looked alike, but we finally found James and enjoyed family day and graduation day with him.

After graduation, we took James to Virginia where he started training for EOD (Bomb squad).

In mid September, James will finish his first phase of training and move to Florida to finish his EOD training. 

After dropping off James, we drove to S. Carolina and visited the Howard family and then flew home to Washington via Washington DC.  Two Washingtons in one day!  A couple weeks later, Heidi’s sister, Robin, and family came down from Alaska to spend two weeks with us.  During that time we had many reunions with family and friends. (The red type is the computer's way of saying I don't know English grammar.)

Heidi with her nephews and the Blackstad boys.

This is a picture of our new musical group, The Three Bamford Twins.  We are hoping to add a twin or two.

This is a picture of  my brothers, Tom, Mike, David w/ Sara, myself, and my father, John.
Thanks for having a look at our blog!