This is week 5 of this mission trip. Click for other weeks:
Monday, Sept 30: So begins the 2nd half of our visit down here, week 5 of 8. So much yet to do. Had a visit from a stone engraver for purposes of doing the donation bricks. We are going to go with an upgraded brick that we will NOT plaster over for the front courtyard. We will engrave the sides of the bricks, those that bought the double brick will get two side by side (lengthwise) bricks. The engraver will actually come to the mission and do it right onsite. We hope to get this wall up and well photographed before the trip is concluded so that we can continue with the fund raising.
The road/sewer construction finally tore up the asphalt in front of the mission and not too far south of us there is a giant hole where they are working on the sewer. Abel, our contractor, says that this basically has killed all of his jobs since no big supply trucks can get in. We might have the same problem ... drat. This may really cut down on what we can accomplish. Now we have a real "logistics problem", as UPS commercials would say. Why tear up a perfectly good road with a working sewer system just to put in a larger sewer system? You would think that short of better capacity thinking up front, an alternative plan B would be to run a secondary line down another street. Oh well, can't fight city hall.
Met with an 'engraver' who works primarily in the cemeteries, to discuss the donation wall we are trying to create. We came to an agreement as to how and how much and now we have to build it. Different than what we envisioned when we started the 'donor brick' appeal, this will be a wall in the front courtyard (always planned) but the engraving will be on the side of upgraded bricks that have smooth edges. Here is a sample of what we now envision the donation wall to look like (but with out brick columns). We need to change the application to basically offer one or two bricks rather than two different sizes. But the overall look will be very nice. Hope to get this up with the initial donation requests we have received and some great pictures to take back to the US with. If you have not yet considered putting your name on this mission, please do.
How to get a truck full of construction supplies to our front door and where to put them? Without more concrete, electical tubes, and soon more brick, we will be coming to an early halt on this trip as to forward progress. Challenge times.
Abel had about 10 bricks left over onsite from March after finishing up the final downstairs brick (bathroom and office wall). However, we did run short of cement and had to 'borrow' from one of his other jobs a few bags. We will need to make a supply run this week for a LOT of concrete (need it to do the floors) and other things I have already mentioned. Two good things from the road construction, apparently Abel can't do much at all at his other jobsites so he and of his crew are focused here; second, it seems that the local Catholic church has some ceremony coming up that they will need road access for so hopefully the route to the church (which is right accross from us) will be made passable soon! Hallelueah!!! ;-) It pays to build across from the Catholic church! Clout!
Got a couple of teenagers that were not doing anything productive (one's dad volunteered one of them), came to move some rubble and relocate a sandpile. The rubble work was modeled after our younger workers, taking it out to the road where the earthmover will scoop it up with the rest of the road. They had to watch and time their run to the middle of the road with their wheelbarrows and get out of the way before the giant yellow Volvo earthmover returned. After doing this, we had them relocate a lot of purchased sand inside our gate for the plastering work we are doing.
We are totally out of cement now, having to borrow a couple of bags to complete the brickwork. We need at least 10 bags more to finish the plastering, and probably another 100 to do the floor. With no ability to get a large delivery vehicle in, because of the roadwork, Lily has a local guy with a pickup that she will run into Ica with tomorrow and get 25-30 bags of cement and some electrical tubing. Abel, our contractor, is going to get on his own all the plumbing and sewer parts he needs. All things that are needed to be done before we can pour the floor.
Little by little the plaster work continues. This picture of our Cocina (kitchen) may not look like much, but it's worlds better than when we arrived with the naked brick. Now we just need to add a floor, some paint, some cabinets, and poof - a kitchen just like home!! ;-) Note the electrical box on the wall, from that junction all pipes will flow .... soon!! ;-)
Tuesday - Oct 1: New day! Lily left early this morning via the collectivo (having to go 2 blocks past the construction to catch it), to Maestro, to meet with a neighbor and his pickup truck, to retrieve 25 bags of concrete and 20 electrical tubes. Abel showed up about 8am and brought 3 bags of borrowed concrete from another job to keep his workers going. The water is usually on by then but not yet. When it did come on, about an hour later, it was a major gusher at the front sidewalk! Apparently one of the big dump trucks parked on the city cut off valve which is right in front of the mission, and broke the pipe. Lily, yesterday, kept telling the truck and skip loader that would happen if they parked there, but they did not listen. Thank you Lord for getting us to move our sand off the sidewalk (rather than doing it tomorrow as we were thinking) as it would have been washed down the street with the broken pipe. Every little sign of Yours is so well received!!!
Lily returned, and we able to get the pickup truck close enough to unload. Abel is starting to prepare the floor, the workers are still finishing up on the plastering with fewer walls left to do. We are having a minor correction to the stairway, and when that is poured and dryed, the last section of plastering will get done. Today, all the new brick in the main room is now plastered, as well as all but one wall in the office/2nd bedroom area. We have the new bathroom yet to do, and the stairway, and we may get around to pouring the floor by end of week. That means we will have all the sewer, water and electric piping all in place that is going under the floor. Looking good!
Had another window/door man come by today to give us an estimate. He's about S/1,000 more than the other guy, but he says he can get it done in 2 weeks, where our original guy has not even got back to us. I told Lily, who hates to spend any money more than she has to, that time is money and this needs to get done. S/1,000 equals about $400, and the knowledge that the job is underway and will be completed before we leave is worth it. Anyway, we need to decide now to get this done while we are here.
Wednesday, Oct 2: We woke up late, but the water automatically filled the major water tank and our neighbor let in the contractors, eventually waking us. We missed replentishing our own casita water supplies, and we could have used another barrel or two of work water, so might have to borrow from the neighbor. We usually get excess water needs from the village square, tipping the water man, but that's not possible right now apparently due to all the broken pipe issues from the roadwork (two active leaks in front of the mission this morning). Oh well, life continues.
This should be the last day for plastering, with three teams working the front, top and bottom of the staircase and new bathroom. The concrete "cosmetic" repair on the stairs was done yesterday, extending the steps a wall width. Tomorrow, trenching for sewer, water and electrical will commence. During that, there will be some cosmetic plastering done as well. Then on to the pouring of the floors!!
Lily seriously thinking about staying an extra month to finish up some loose ends. Although I was thinking the same a few weeks ago, I do not see the current delays as something our staying behind can correct (road work, non-responsive window door man, etc.) Anyway, we are in discussion on this possibility.
Always struggling on making the cash last when we are down here. We try to buy all materials (Maestro, etc) with credit card, but labor is always cash and in local currency (soles), not dollars. Exchanging dollars for soles is not always easy or at a favorable exchange rate. We have a bank account down here but bank relations in Peru are not the same in the US. They do not offer the best exchange rates for one thing. When you are motivated to exchange your currency at the local hardware store or a street currency dealer rather than your own bank, somethings wrong with the system. Oh well. In getting the sewer and water pipes, our contractor is insisting on a manufacturer (Nicelle) that he prefers that makes better product than what Maestro sells. Problem is that is another 'cash' deal. Lily is running off to the seller of this preferred product, with our contractor, to see if she can get him to either take credit cards or dollars, preserving our Peruvian Soles for labor.
|Bio: Abel Quipe|
Getting to know those that we spend a lot of time with down here, so thought I would pass on some facts on them as we go. Lily spent some time with Abel, our contractor, yesterday as they rode to Ica to get supplies and found out some more of his background.
We were introduced to Abel earlier this year when he took the initial contract, having never really worked on anything this big before, but jumped right in and hasn't stopped yet. He is truly a young (26 year old) "jack of all trades" as I have seen him do all the skills that any of his workers have shown, and then some. He seems to do the most menial tasks, even though he can do everything, delegating to his workers to do their particular skill area (brick, tarajeo, ceiling, concrete, block, etc).
He is of Incan descent and the father of two children, a 3 and 1 year old. He lost his own father, an uncle and his oldest brother in the late 80's when he was only two years old to some criminal scenanigans in the mountain community they lived. When this occured, his mother took him and his multiple brothers and sisters (9 surviving) down from the mountains to the metro area of Ica.
His mother could not raise all the kids on her own, so started passing each of her kids to her brothers and sisters to help raise them. Abel was only 2 and he insisted to stay with his mom, who still lives with him. He lost one other sister since then. He used to run 4km every day to go to school when he was a child. At age 8-9 he did attend a pentacostal church but never got arround to accepting the Lord. The pastor of that church left his wife for another woman and this ended their family's attendance at the church. He occasionally attends services and understands that God and man are not the same. We hope to count him as a future spiritual brother soon.
We finally have a commitment from our original window/door man (best rate, and who we have dealt with in past) to start this Friday/Saturday. We need to get the large two windows and double doors fabricated and installed for security, so that we can start taking down the iron gates for additional security work, and wrought iron wall to replace with our brick commemorative wall. Progress!
Thursday, Oct 3: This "Tarrajero" process (which I have been referring to as "plastering", even thought it doesn't have any plaster) is really a wall smoothing and leveling function, putting sometimes larger layers on one side versus the other (as this photo shows) but with a very square wall or ceiling as the end result. As the workers get to smaller and smaller areas (bathrooms, closets, stairs, the amount of square footage they can do per day is significantly reduced, as the number of corners and curves increase and the square meters goes down. We are in our last few days of plastering, so this point is becoming more and more evident. Anyway, we are also starting at the sametime new sewer work, and hopefully we might even start the floor pour by Saturday.
The tarrajero process is most slow, as each surface and front to each step is like a mini wall and each edge must be squared. Painful process, probably going to total a day and a half of one worker to complete. Sometime tomorrow we hope. The downstairs bath did get completed today, thank goodness. This leaves the last few steps, one wall edge (picture above) at the bottom of the stairs and the left hall surface of the stairs that was saved for last. All tomorrow and then Tarrajero is complete!!!
Although we had put in an initial sewer pipe for us to use from the casita in the back of the property, our contractor Abel, insisted that we need to do this right for the whole property before we pour the floor. He made us buy some special pipe that he recommends (hence a special trip).
We trenched today quite a bit, and probably install tomorrow the mainline (we will be without sewer for a day), and the offshoot lines for all the rooms in the missionary will be hooked up by saturday. A lot more floor prep was done today as well, as all the hardened tarrajero, rocks, and debris need to be removed before we can pour the floor. Lily is still trying to determine the color of the concrete she wants since it will be our final surface. Some day in the far future we might add something else on top of it, but for now, that's fine.
Friday, Oct 4: More of the same, completed all Tarrajero work, focus was on sewer today. Lead Tarrajero worker, focused on cleaning and surfacing central column in main room (I guess there was one more item to do!). Removed the old sewer pipe (all of 6 months old) and got it all re-installed new so we had sewer again by end of day.
Added drain hookups for kitchen, two downstairs baths and two upstairs (not built yet) bath drains. Also, hopefully tomorrow, we will need to run water lines to same areas, determine main water feed location from roof as well. Hopefully we can get all that done tomorrow, as well as positioning all the electrical tubes, so we can pour the floor on Monday. Little by little. Tomorrow, we hopefully start on front door and two major windows as our windown/door man was to finish his other job today. Getting the front secured is important so we can take down the security wrought iron fence that will be replaced with commemorative brick and will enclose our main electrical box.
Saturday, Oct 5: Got woken up at 1am to another earthquake, not as bad as September 25th but a definite rolling jolt that felt like it just rippled on through town. Checked the internet in the morning for any info on it but nothing.
We have a day of mostly plumbing today, all necessary work to be done but not a lot of exciting pictures to share. Closed up the hallway trench which included upstairs west hookup; got the kitchen sewer all in place; master bath shower, toilet and sink sewer run; hall bath shower, toilet and sink sewer run; complete concrete sewer junction box for upstairs east hookup with downstairs mainline.
We continue to wait (1pm now) to have our window/door man show up. He seems to be the holdup in a lot of things.
End of the day, window/doorman finally came by, took one of our no longer used wrought iron fences to recycle into our new door and windows for our front. Funny to see him leave with this 10 ft square thing ontop of his mini-cab. Wish I had the camera!!
Got some help with finishing our casita shower a bit with some of the excess tarrajeo material. After it was done, Lily had them try some of her color ideas with orange on black, black on orange, trying to get a marballing effect. You do not want to see the result. Let's just say I am glad that we tried it in the casita before the main house new floor!!! ;-)
Sunday, Oct 6: We were able to get to church again, after missing last Sunday, and we were blessed. We took Raymundo again with us. This was a communion service, and that added to our blessing. Pastor Martin also committed to the church body that he is deep in prayer about planting a church in El Carmen, and referenced our soon to be done building. When we first arrived he informed us that a pastor couple that he had in mind feel out before he could approach them. It was good to hear this church wide announcement. I assume that we will have Pastor come back out soon after we get the floors laid to check the sites rediness.
Margaret Lozone, who has joined us often down here on missionary trips, introduced her flag waving in the spirit to El Shaddai on this last trip, actually gifting her favorite Christian theme flag to pastor's nephew who has a gift for dancing. He truly appreciated this gift and apparently his cousin Sarah, Pastor's 8 year old daughter, took her uncle's initiative as a message to get out herself! She and another girl did a dance special for the church on their own this week, and then they both also joined Pastor and the worship leadership in leading the church in a closing hymn. Love to see young children grow and exhibit God's gifts in His worship.
After services, we did som light shopping at Radio Shack and Maestro for a few items we needed. We then headed to town for lunch at our prior 'hole in the wall' eatary (Named Los Angeles kitchen or something like that). Then we took the collectivo home. Light day, hope to make much progress this next week shifting the site to a more complete operational use direction before we head home in three weeks.