LAMA Mission trip - El Carmen, San Juan Bautista, Ica, Peru
This is part 2 of the blog for this specific Mission trip, first one for 2015. Click any of the below date blocks to go to any of the parts of this blog:
Also you may click here for photo gallery. (all photos of blog, as well as many others, are in gallery)
Wednesday, April 1 - Busy day with a lot of form work on the underground cistern and a good deal of tarrajeo work underway. Starting with the ceilings on the third floor, while cuts are made for electrical and low voltage outlets on the walls that will get tarejeo secondly. After the third floor is complete, we will move on to the second, since gravity works downward for this sometimes very messy process. And when it's all done we will probably spend a good deal of time cleaning up the first floor. But onward we go.
As to the tarrajeo work, actually it started yesterday with the rooftop water tower getting done, but now we are onto the 3rd floor. Ceilings get applied immediately as there is no prep. Walls need to have the electical and low voltage boxes cut in first, and that is going on simultaneously.
After the tarrajeo process is done (walls still needed to be done) you can see the result on the ceiling. We won't be painting until it cures a bit, probably next August. Although we will go ahead and wire up all (or most) of the outlets and lights hopefully on this trip. This is the primary work for this trip. As the tarrajeo work progresses, we will then start getting window and door measurements for fabrication and installation.
Lost the internet, again, in the evening .. .which is often a good thing as it is helping me get caught up on my book reading. But did keep me from getting this blog up last night.
Thursday, April 2 - Work continues. More ceiling is given the tarrajeo processs on the third floor with a crew of 3 in the morning. Another crew of 4 or more worked to complete the cistern on the ground floor. Pictured on the left, our dedicated contractor, Abel, makes sure that everything is flowing and holding well while the concrete is poured around the sides and bottom of the newly constructed cistern. We spoke to Abel by the end of the day as to what additional crew can be put on the tarrajeo work to move it faster along. He assured us that he will be doubling up on the crew in the next few days and further by the end of next week.
Speaking totally unrelated to the construction going on, a big funeral is held in front of the mission at the village square. It includes a parade, trumpets, lots of flowers, statues being carried and of course the famous man made donuts. This donut chef (who appears to have lived on a diet of funeral donuts) sets up in front of our neighbors house everytime there is a funeral and rakes in the donut money. I wonder if we let him set up in front of the mission we could save a few soles and get free donuts?
Friday, April 3 - A rather productive day, construction wise. Completely removed all the wood frames from the cistern, showing a completed succcess pour. Tarrajeo within the new underground water tank got underway to make the walls very smooth and clean.
While this was underway, tarrajeo on the third floor continued. A great amount of ceiling was completed and the first wall was started. Had a crew of from 8-10 here today. They worked right through lunch with a few of them breaking. We were under the impression that they wanted to leave a bit early since it's Good Friday, but since nothing was said otherwise, we do expect them back to work tomorrow on Saturday.
We were considering going to Pisco on a pastor's invite to his church for Easter Sunday tomorrow, but with this country so full of "C & E" (Christmas & Easter only) church goers, the collectivo's jack up their ride into town, the buses will be crowded, the streets crowded, the churches crowded, etc. We have decided to take a rain check for another week and avoid the craziness of fighting the crowds. We have tried it a few years in a row now and it's not fun. We will have our own service here at the Mission or we might venture into Ica, but lets see as the days progress. In the interim, one more day of work tomorrow and two movie nights, youth and adult. We are going to show a Passion play for both, animated for the children and Mel Gibson's movie for the adults. Tonight we have the kids.
Kids showed up a little early and a little late ... one thing we need to teach them is that it is disruptive to be coming in on a movie after it begins ... but kids be kids. Didn't have our regular larger numbers this time, perhaps since many families might have gone to Ica for a Good Friday parade or the like. Easter is a busy travel weekend for families being a very Catholic country and there is a regular annual parade in Ica, I am just forgetting if it is Friday or Easter Sunday. Anyway, we had two 30 minute animated segments, one of Jesus life up to his crucifixion and burial and another (30 minutes) of His resurrection and assumption. We had some discussion afterwards on Easter, its meaning to us. Lily let me pray at the conclusion in English and she translated. Small group but intimate and meaningful.
Saturday, April 4 - was a busy day with the completion of the cistern (it now has a top) as well as a great amount of additional tarrajeo done on the third floor. The team was as many as 13 when they all pitched in to finalize the top layer on the cistern, it was like watching ants move on a just kicked ant-hill. ;-) I don't think they needed that many for the project but it did include a lot of rebar, a lot of tying of rebar, with form work, and team work on the wheelbarrows. I think most of the team was here for the tarejeo work and just all pitched in for the finalization on the cistern.
The end of the day we did have a movie night for adults scheduled with Mel Gibson's Passion Play. However, similar to the children's movie attempt the night before, we had a light showing in that we were competing with so many people gone to the big city of Ica to watch the festival de Lauren, which is a big deal here with a large statue or painting that is slowly carried through the streets while everyone holds a candle. It is a terrible weekend for traveling to the city, too many crowds, and especially for even thinking of going in for church. The collectivo and taxi rates are higher as well, applying basic marketing science of supply and demand. Anyway, we had a small crowd and we enjoyed the movie. Good to see Jim Caldasian (spelling?) in his original acting role speaking in Aramaic as opposed to his current TV role on 'Personal Interest' which Lily loves to watch just because 'Jesus is in it'! ;-)Sunday, April 5 - Light day, with no construction. We avoided doing our usual going into town for church services due to the crowds but did break down and go in the evening. Jose, a regular at our mission church, went with us to Ica to enjoy Easter services. Fascinating younger group at church in the evening with more lively music. Enjoyed the visit and fellowship. We did make a pit stop at Maestro just before for some minor purchases. We ended up taking separate collectivo's home since Jose had to get up super early in the morning. Good to get back to the mission.
Monday, April 6 - Construction continues. Tarrajeo work goes on both the 3rd and 2nd floor. We do a lot of discussion on where electrical and low voltage (internet, TV, intercom) wiring will go. Also a needed wall was left undone on the 2nd floor under the stairs so we needed to get a brick count on it. Lily will return today to Maestro with Abel to pick out the right pump for the cistern as well as bring one more load of brick back for building it. (Thought we were done with brick purchases for awhile). Also need another 150 bags of cement, as they workers are going through it like water doing the tarejeo work. Also will purchase a good number of assorted plumbing and electrical components to get the water tanks, cistern, and plumbing all hooked up and running. When completed we will NEVER ('knock knock') run out of water at the Mission!! We will have not one tank, but two tanks, each holding 1.1 Meters of water, AND a 12 cubic meter cistern feeding them, a total of over 14 cubic meters of agua!. We can sustain a lot of missionary showers when this is complete and plenty of agrculture. That assumes that the village allotment of water (one hour a day flow) can keep us filled! ;-)
Anyway, three separate crews continued to work and after a short 'power siesta' they were back on it after lunch. One of those lucky guys, hopefully likes to work alone, drew the short straw and got the job of tearing out the support wood from our 'bomb shelter' (cistern) and pouring the floor. It was already concrete but needed to be made really smooth like the walls since this is a water tank and we want it easy to maintain. I hooked up a light for him as it was pretty cramped quarters in this 6x9 foot room with 6 foot ceilings, and only a little climb in hole for access. When this is done, and when the pump and plumbing supplies return, hopefully we can get this all hooked up by weekend.
Supplies have returned. 160 more bags of concrete, 150 more brick (please no more brick), many more plumbing supplies, mainly the pump to hook up the cistern, as well as additional wiring for our electrical work. No more rebar at least, and hopefully no more brick after this. We still have nearly 900 over purchase of the larger brick that we don't use for inside upstairs work. But it will get put to use when we eventually extend the property wall further back so not a wasted purchase at all, just something to store for awhile. (Some of our mission kids pictured on the left while we unload all the materials).
We will be leaving for Lima in the morning for a two day trip while the contracting continues. Each of these bags of concrete is 44.5 kilo's or rougnly 95 pounds. All of these 150 bags need to be used on the upper floors for tarrajeo work, hence they are being lifted one bag at a time to the 2nd floor. After moving about 100 of them up, Abel (contractor) left the rest of the bags on the ground floor with the mixer. They will also be carted up (one bucket or wheelbarrow at a time) after mixing to pour the two floors once all the tarejeo and electrical tubing is layed. For some reason, based on this imbalance of distribution of this load (and Abel telling us that it took 40 bags of cement alone to make the cistern), I am suspect that with the needs for pouring two complete floors after all the tarejeo is done, that we have not seen our last cement delivery!! ;-)
After tucking away all the merchandise, leaving out what Abel needs for the next few days (besides his ready access to cement and brick) we prepare for tomorrows short trip north.
Tuesday, April - 7 - Catching an early morning bus to Lima, we did a few errand runs before getting to our residence in Miraflores. One needed stop was the exchange of additional currency (keeping in mind that although all merchandise is being bought on credit, our contractor is paid weekly in currency). Always noticing and tracking the exchange rate, getting the most for our currency. It is interesting to note that the banks give the worse exchange rate down here.
Also, we were very happy to see the excellent workmanship that we had done in Miraflores with our Lima contractor, on upgrading the windows throughout. We had earlier done the bathroom window alone, but now having replaced all of the primary four other windows with reflective glass, we have excellent circulation in this rest stop that we are primarily making avaiable as an option for visiting missionaries on their way to the El Carmen Mission, so that their complete trip is simplified, and cost minimized.
Apparently we did not leave out the newly bought wire at the mission when we left, since we didn't think our contractor would need it until we returned. Of course, we get a message saying that he did to hook up the pump. Oh well, guess that chore will wait until we get back since we tucked it away. Wire, as in the US, is not cheap and we didn't want to just leave it out. He's OK though until Thursday when we return.
Wednesday, April 8 - One more personal day for some needed running around with chores while in Lima. We have a very early bus in the morning so trying to make the most out of this day. Today we went downtown to visit where all the printers are, one that we utilize for creating brick templates for our Donation wall. We have a plaque that we are working on getting up at the mission and wanted to get a price on it.
When we leave Miraflores where the LAMA apartment is, we head east on Benevides Boulevard. The primary express bus service that runs on the freeway is only 2 and a half blocks east of the LAMA residence in Miraflores. This is definitely a short walk justifying no need for a car considering the actual mass transit cost is 2 soles (about 67 cents US to then get all the way downtown. It takes only about 10 minutes, to go 10 stops, and get to Grand Central where we want to go. This is a main drop off point but is still two (2) stops just south of downtown apparently.
We get off at 'Grand Central' and surface and then walk a few blocks to what I would call 'Printers Anonymous'. It's a 3 story (soon to be four) building with nothing but printers, artisans, creators using the word, photo, print, on paper, plastic, wood, etc. We have come here many times before as we work with a fellow here that does templates for us every time we come to Peru for the new brick donations we receive.
We are now on a hunt for a craftsman to do a memorial plaque that will hang in the mission on the wall. We found one gentleman but will do some competitive comparisons before contracting with him.
Thursday, April 9 - We caught a 6:30am bus from Lima to Ica and had one of our regular drivers, Pinocio, meet us. Stopped and paid the mission power bill before returning to the Mission. Was surprised to see before we even got to our destination, as we came through the village, that you could clearly see the water tanks had been moved to the water tower on top of the mission. In the two years of construction, it has been interesting to reflect on life here before ANY water tanks, When we would hurry to take a shower while the morning water was running from the village for only an hour, and we stored extra water for use the rest of the day in a large trashcan. We acquired our first tank after we had a roof on the 1st floor to put it. Sometime while we were building the 2nd floor, we acquired a 2nd tank but took a long time actually hook it up, constantly running out of water as the contractors used up each day the 1100 liter. Although Abel has not gotten the pump installed as of yet, since we didn't leave him enough wire, he has gotten all the electrical and water tubing in place hoping to hook it all up.
Checked out the 2nd and 3rd floor and a great amount of progress on tarrajeo had been made in our absense. I told Lily we need to leave more often! ;-) Guess it just seems greater when you aren't watching them daily, sort of the old axiom 'a watched pot never boils'. Anyway, most of the 2nd floor has it's ceiling tarrajeo complete, still have to do the east end where the men's dormitory is. They were doing tarejeo on the external balcony ceiling on the 2nd floor when we arrived.
The 3rd floor has had a great amount of work done, most of the walls are complete, a lot more electrical cuts are made on the large area parapet as well which will probably be the last area tarrajeo is applied on that floor. Charlie, Abel's brother, was cutting in for the electrical breaker box on the 3rd floor when we arrived.
Now that the water tanks are moved up to their own location on the roof, and off the third floor (picture on right), the full size and openness of this floor for events and meetings can be better appreciated.
Needing to take a break after a full morning of working, the crew stops for a short game of soccer in the court across from the mission. Competitive bunch of guys that do a lot of great steady quality work which need a break from monotony for a short while.
After returning to the job, production continues. Percy and Christian stop to pose for the camera while doing one of the first exterior walls (3rd floor) in tarrajeo process. Captured their mud slinging in a short video that I will create a link for. Day ended, didn't quite get the pump installed yet, but a lot was accomplished. On to another day.
Friday, April 10 - Snuck a few pictures before the workers showed up today. A lot of the work completed on the 3rd floor, which has workers now moving down to the 2nd to do similar tarrajeo work. Not quite complete though yet on the third floor, as all the exterior walls and parapet are yet to be done. When both the 3rd and 2nd are done, there are three sides of the exterior upper two floors to do with assumedly a lot of scaffolding. Lot's yet to do.
Impressed! Our 12 cubic meter water holding area, also known as the new cistern (or cisterna in espanol) has been filling the last few days in anticipation of our using it. We still need to fashion a concrete door for it, and install the pump, but it was interesting to see so much water already contained. Still trying to understand the mechanics of it working with the tanks on the roof and keeping them full. Obviously, the roof tanks, will be our supply based on gravity giving us what water pressure we will have. I see the float valve in the cistern that would shut off any more feed and keep an overflow from occuring, but how exactly the water tanks tell the cistern pump when to flow and quit is something I am still learning. Thank goodness our contractor totally understands it all, and I am sure it is simple enough. Something to do with that little yellow stripe float he tells me. When it floats it doesn't flow to the tanks, when it sinks it does ... or a reverse of that. I will figure it out. In the interim, I am just glad that the water system is near completion.
Our new pump ran today, feeding the cistern water up to the roof. It had to be manually turned on (and turned off when the tank overflowed a little) since the power is not hooked up yet permanently on the pump and the float sensors on the roof are not yet wired as well. But it is rather quiet considering. We will wire it up more officially today, and hopefully get the sensors hooked up as well. Need to build a secure little pump house for it to rest in as well as things of value like this left outside alone might just tend to walk off ...
This leaves only the men's dormitory and respective bathroom to finish the terajeo process on the ceilings of the 2nd floor. Then it's time to do the walls. Making progress. While all this tarrajeo work is going on upstairs, there is a support element from the downstairs that has been constant the whole while. There has always been a team of guys doing a rope and pully system taking fine sand used in the process to the upper floors for mixing with the cement.
Tarrajeo simply leaves out the gravel and makes for a smooth cement mix to level the walls with. Although it has been funny to watch some of the smaller guys do this rope pull, lifting themselves off the ground a bit, my size kept that from happening but this is a very strenuous exercise after a few buckets ... I definitely went for a pair of gloves after a few times. That fact that one or two guys have been doing this work for like four hours straight, really impresses me as to the dedicated hard workers that we have on this job. I put together another video of Abel's brother Charley (much smaller but hard working fellow doing this bucket lift routine (together with a dumptruck trash day, some parapet and column construction views and a fulll crew working on the cistern and the tarejeo mud throw) just to empty my camera ... Will provide a link here when loaded.
Saturday, April 11 - The pump finally got all of it's wiring done, so it will come on automatically when needed. Apparently it has two sensors, one in the cistern, and the other on the roof in the tanks. The most obvious signal that it reads is when the water starts to get low on the roof, then it comes on and fills it from the cistern. The other signal which hopefully will not occur much is it sensing that there is no water i the cistern so that it knows NOT to try to pump to the tanks. Interesting technology.
After the workers left we had our 2nd English language training session, attendees were a little light since we were competing with First Holy Communion with the Catholic church across the plaza.
After the English class ended, Caeser showed up for the adult bible church services. We were this time competing with a procession going down the street carrying a statue of Jesus and four angels, with trumpets and more. Not sure what this ceremony was since we are only one week after Easter ... Jesus assumption? Caught a short video that I will attempt to put a link up.
When we were beginning the bible study, a little local farm lady from San Pedro came by selling white cheese. I came in and got Lily who came out and made a buy for 3 soles (about a dollar). Sweet woman making a meager living.
After services ended, I am sitting here typing away late in the evening and the pump came on after Lily dumped a few buckets of dirty dishwater. It is not that noisy but seems to come on for a good while. Wonder if we could come up with a 3rd sensor to know time of day or to do this when no one's here? ;-) Anyway, it works and works well. We will be fine tuning it as we go. Still have to build a little secure pump house for it. After a while, noticing that it's still going on and knowing that is a lot more than just a few buckets of water, I thought I would go up on the roof and see if all is well. Good thing I did. One tank was filling up a lot faster than the other, and that tank did NOT have the shut off sensor so we were just starting to enjoy a water flow from 5 stories up, right past the 3rd and 2nd floor and down the stairway opening all the way to the first floor giving us our first minor flood. We got it all shut off and talked to Abel who was going to come out but we said it could wait till tomorrow. What an experience - mucho water. Guess it wasn't quite tested enough to just leave it yet. Tomorrow will tell.
Sunday, April 12 - Abel and Christian (Alta) showed up this morning to check out the damage if any, and to make some corrections to the water. It seems that the one tank without the float mechanism is filling a lot faster than the other, and since it also does not have the sensor, it just keeps flowing right over the top waiting for the sensor to shut it off. The plumbing to balance the two tanks is at the bottom and is only a half inch pipe which apparently is not wide enough to compete with the larger pipes filling at the top fro the pump. Apparently the more permanent solution will be to balance the inflow on both tanks to be equal, and to also install a kill switch at the pump if needed, since last night I ended up cutting the wires to shut it off. Personally I think a balance pipe at the top is needed as well, but Abel didn't think so ...
At 2pm our youth group showed up. We had about ten children, as well as Augusto and Nancy's leadership. Hopefully, with this new time and day (Sundays at 2pm) we can get back to the larger group we had. We have been rather inconsistant of late, moving it from Saturday to Friday and back, based on work and transportation needs of Augusto and Nancy. We need to give these local kids a regular reliable timeslot or we cannot be assured of the group growing. Hope this time works best. All things will work better with a permanent missionary presense here. Lily and I ran it ourselves last week and had about 16 kids.
Anyway, after the bible study, we had the internet up (which is not always the case) so we had both computers on and the girls and the boys both gravitated to different one's. It was funny to watch the games that the girls picked, cooking and housework (who makes games to make casadia's for example?) as well as kareoke, where the guys picked adventure, role playing games. Anyway, even though our communication is weak (my fault) I thouroughly enjoy time with these kids. They are truly God's precious gift.
Monday, April 13 - Crew showed up this morning and most went immediately to work on the parapet and column tarrajeo. Saturday, they said they had about two days work there. While this is going on, more tarejeo work is underway both inside and out with the 3rd floor building structure to get that all finished as well. We may postpone doing the actual windows and doors on this floor until another trip, due to time and funds, but all the tarejeo and pouring of the floor for both floors will be done.
Doing this one a little ahead of time since we have our welder coming by to take a measurement for a door here. Abel was very accomodating on making this be done a little bit early. We are thinking due to time and funds that we will need to isolate the 2nd and 3rd floors, focusing on the actual finish (windows and doors) of the 2nd floor, perhaps postponing the same for the 3rd floor until another trip. To isolate the 3rd floor we will need to enclose the stairway going up the third, as well as close out the skylight over the 1st floor stairs, and then do all the windows and doors on the 2nd floor alone. Hope time allows.
So Saturday night we had a pump that wouldn't shut off, giving us an internal 4 floor waterfall. Today we have a pump that wouldn't turn on, leaving both tanks on the roof empty after contractors got into them (amazing how fast they go through two meters of water!!
We checked the roof tanks sensor and checked the power switch and everything was proper. Apparently (of course what I didn't check) the sensor in the cistern this time was wrongly telling the pump that there was no water to be pumped ... Gotta get these sensors down. Hate to get a call on these while we are back in the USA! ;-) I think it's a pretty basic easy system that we just need to come up with a problem checklist for the people that are watching the property. Another chore. Anyway, simple adjustment.
Tarrajeo continues, great amount of progress on 3rd floor parapet/columns, as well as a lot of edges and windows, and also the stairs. We get measurements tomorrow for two doors on the second floor so trying to be ready. Can't really take adequate measurements until tarrajeo is completed.
Lily took a quick trip into Ica to meet a few people and came back with some grocery items about 1:30. We had lunch together and the workers came back from their lunch as well, and back on the job.
Much work was accomplished today. What's left, when all the walls are done being terajeo processed, is the electrical and low voltage tubing connections, the strigning of the wires within those tubes and then the pouring of the concrete flooring which will be about 4 inches and cover the entire floor within the roofed areas as well as the non-roofed arena area - a lot of concrete.
Tarrajeo work is nearly complete on the open 3rd floor area as well, with the entire south parapet wall and columns nearly all done.
Tuesday, April 14 - Workers resumed tarrajeo work on both upper floors, with the sincere hope that the 3rd floor is finished this week. As with most crafts, they get the large areas done first and the real time is spent with the individual small areas, a store room, a column, a window, etc. Slow and steady, they continue to plug away.
We got a visit from two of our mission girls, Mariana and Jennifer, this morning. They were wearing some Physical Education uniform from school, so it was obvious that they were supposed to be somewhere else, and not at the mission. When asked, they invited us to come over and bring our camera to take pictures of the whole class.
It was funny as we crossed the street to do so, and bring these two wayward classmates back to school, the whole class came running out of the play area to great us and do the traditional cheek kiss greating for the girls and handshake with the guys. Lily and I are now just Tia and Tio to every kid in school now it seems. Love being loved by the kids, but was concerned that the teacher might find us a disruption.
Jose, the coach, quickly introduced himself and was most curious as to where we were from and inquired about the Mission, and then our faith, wondering if we were Jehovah Witnesses or something. Lily got into a long dialogue with him, very encouraged by him, to discuss Christianity in total and how and what we are and aren't.
He was very encouraging of our taking pictures and working with the kids. He pointed out that the courtyard we were at, directly accross from the mission and which we have used ourselves many times with the kids, could really use a roof to make it more weather friendly and protected from the hot sun. Also we had a recent bouth of unwelcome graffitti that I think we should perhaps get the kids involved with covering up with a paint detail but will save that for another day of suggestion.
Anyway, we took a few videos of the kids doing all sorts of exercise stunts and will try to make them into something here with a link, but we excused ourself after a bit wanting to be less disrupting to the school time than we already were. The school though seems most enthusiastic with our working with the kids every time we ever approach them. Wondering if we should have a more formal interaction for PE, bible study, english language teaching and more when we have a full time missionary here. Definitely possible based on my experiences.
Back to the mission, recorded some more progress upstairs. Slow and steady but constantly moving forward. Looks like the 2nd floor exterior door frame is done, so we can get our first door estimate done today. Nope, estimate will have to wait until tomorrow but one door done on 2nd floor. So much more to do. We were one pair of workers light today and we felt it. Hope we can pick it up a bit tomorrow.
Lily and Abel made the marks for the plumbing cuts, and we also requested a couple of spickets on the top floor since it's sort of an open arena setting. Also wanted to be sure to have drain holes at both the back and front of building for rain run off (not that we get much) as well as washing the floor down. The 2nd floor is all enclosed so no need there, but a lot of plumbing cuts will be needed as the tarrajeo progresses. Lily went to Ica for a few errands, one of which was to pick up additional electrical boxes as we are short by about 40.
After a late lunch for the crew, they needed to go down the street for a major concrete pour of a new ceiling, about 80 square meters. They had the road blocked for their large pile of sand and gravel that was in the middle of the street. Hope to get them to resume full force in the morning. Lot's to do.
My young friend Mario came back wiith me from the other construction site and he took this picture of me in front of the mission today, just to show it's current state. Soon, the entire mission will be tarrajeo processed and look like the gray box on the top (water tower). It will eventually be painted white, but that will wait until August I would assume so the concrete has a bit of time to cure. So much tarejeo to do inside, and now outside yet, lots of electrical and plumbing work, and also we need to get the windows and doors for at least the 2nd floor. Our hands are full. Please keep us in your prayers.
Will continue this blog in part 3 based on it being the middle of the month and a good cut off point. Please use link #3 below for next installment.
This is part 2 of the blog for this specific Mission trip, first one for 2015. Click any of the below date blocks to go to any of the parts of this blog:
Also you may click here for photo gallery. (all of the photos in this blog, and then some more, are in the gallery).