Tuesday, February 28, 2006

2.24.06 De Ridder Part 2

Old Dave Working on the Fuse Box

The first order of business was to wire up some plug-ins for the air compressor. The fuse box as you can see was mounted on the pole outside in the yard. Upon opening the lid about a gallon of acorns came rolling out from inside the box. It's a wonder we didn't find a fried squirrel. It had been awhile since I fooled with electric circuits and after a couple tries it actually worked.

Pastor Vic and Old Dave

Pastor Vic, the youth pastor, and I are about to fire up the air compressor. Yes that's the plug-ins just hanging out of the fuse box. It's pretty loose in Louisiana. No inspectors, no job quality people, no hassles, just, get-er done mentality. I like it. With the air supply flowing, let the nail guns commence shooting nails.

Laying out the Floor Supports

Houses in Louisiana are built on pillars. The leveling process took the better part of the first half day. Each line of pillars had to be leveled with a string line as well as squared up before the house supports could be placed in position. Things went pretty well and as you can see the supports are going in place here.

Putting on the Floor Decking

This is where I kind of got in trouble by stepping through the floor and flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Things went well after I got that out of my system. The rest of the week was pretty uneventful.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

2.24.06 De Ridder Part 3

Ms. Jenelle's Trailer
Here is a picture of what's left of Ms. Jenelle's trailer. The hurricane twisted and buckled the trailer in the middle. Her son removed the trailer from the spot the house was to be built on with a huge logging machine.

Ms. Jenelle's Salvaged Things from Trailer

This is the total sum of what she salvaged from the trailer after Rita blew through. It's not known if the appliances are working or not at this time. They were just believing that they would.

Road leading to Ms. Jenelle's

This is the road leading up to the property for Ms. Jenelle. There were three dwellings on this property. One trailer housed Ms. Jenelle's Mother-in-law. One trailer housed her older son and family where she was temporarily living. She, of course, had the trailer that was a total loss. The other trailers seemed to weather the storm pretty good.

Ms. Jenelle's husband died some time ago. She had defeated cancer, but was now fighting a second round of cancer. More than one day while we were working on the house for her, I could see her standing off a ways from the work that was going on with tears in her eyes. She had never lived in a house. It's always been in a trailer.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

2.24.06 De Ridder Part 4

First wall going up
This first wall was a land mark. It was the first of many walls both interior and exterior. I had learned some about construction when I built my little storage shed last spring. This project honed my skills for construction. I loved playing with the nail guns and the skill saw. Yes, power. I like it.

Side Walls up

This was still part of the second day as we continued to erect the walls. A house was beginning to take shape right before our eyes. I began to learn about how to put the sheeting on the walls before setting them up and how to square up the walls after they were up. I probably learned more about construction on this trip than any other trip.

Interior Walls are going up

We were hefting in the 2x4s to assemble the interior walls. Wall construction became almost second nature by this time. We were starting to come together as a team and really getting some work done. It's really cool when that starts happening. It was a fun time as well as a time to really get to know people in another part of the country. These people here are good hard working people. Most of the people in this area work for the logging industry in some fashion.

Many people helped with the construction of the house over the course of the week. We expected that on Thursday which was Thanksgiving day to probably only be just our team from Omaha. Imagine our surprise when many people showed up to help because of having the day off from work and wanting to be a part of the project that was happening out in the woods. It ended up being the day we had the most help.

After the day ended at sundown as usual, we returned to the motel and did a quick cleanup and went to church for a Thanksgiving feast. We had deep fried turkey with all the southern trimmings. After the meal, we all sat around and listened to the Pastor tell stories about the hurricane and his trip to New Orleans with a truck full of food. Fascinating tales told by the Pastor who was great at telling stories. I just love to listen to someone who can tell a good story.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

2.24.06 De Ridder Part 5

Main Roof Support being placed

This is early morning start time. We usually got on the site to begin work at sunrise which was about 6:30 to 7:00 AM. In this picture we are starting the day with erecting the roof rafters and putting up the main roof support beam.

Rafters are up

This is early afternoon and the roof rafters are up. Now comes the plywood to cover the rafters on the roof and then the roofing shingles. It was quite an experience to be a part of actually building a house.

Windows are going in

This was the last day. As the roof shinges were going on the roof the doors and windows were being installed. Thoughts about siding and interior wall coverings were beginning to emerge. As the sun went down on the last day we felt we had accomplished quite a bit for the five days of construction.

Team Photo

This is a photograph of the our team with the Pastor of the church and Ms. Jenelle with her youngest son. From left to right in the photo are, of course, me, Cindy, Larry, Ms. Jenelle's son, Ms. Jenelle, and Pastor Ken.

When I first met Pastor Ken, I noticed that he was a fun loving trickster. On the second day, I couldn't help myself, but to break the ice. Pastor was using a sawsall to cut out the openings of the windows and doors. I sneaked up on the other side of one of the doorways he was cutting and nailed a 2x4 in the path of the saw. As he cut down the side of the doorway, he hit the 2x4 and the saw started bogging down. He went around to lean out of window that he had cut to see what was the matter and saw the 2x4 nailed in the saws path. With a puzzled look on his face, he sighted down the side of the house to see me peeking around the corner waving at him with a smile. I knew he would catch on right away. With a glint in his eye, he informed me that the games had begun.

The next day about mid day, he started talking about the wild donkeys in the woods around the building site. I didn't really think anything about it. He kept talking about how when he was a kid they had played pin the tail on the donkey and ever so often the conversation would come around to donkeys. I didn't catch on. Later that day when I removed my tool belt I found a big piece of rope unraveled and made to look like a donkey tail with a hook tied on the end clipped to the back of my belt. I had walked around all afternoon with a donkey tail hanging from the back of my tool belt.

The next day when the pastor started talking about the poison vines in the woods, I wasn't quite so gullible. He said that it would turn your skin orange. Well when my hands came up orange, I knew something must have been up. He had poured orange chalk dust in my gloves to try to convience me I had come in contact with the poision vines. I on the other hand would mention the wild donkeys and he would quickly start twisting around to see if I had given him back the tail. I had him checking all day and didn't have to anything.

During the week I noticed they had this thing with the young boys of the church called wrestling you down. All during the week the Pastor kept saying he was going to wait toward the end of the week after I was tired out and wrestle me down. Now wrestling down was accomplished by sneaking up behind the person and quickly grabbing them in a bear hug from behind, lifting them up off the ground and both falling to the ground. So on the last day after everything was loaded up we were standing around recapping the week. The Pastor was deep into one of his stories when I sneaked up behind him applied the bear hug and wrestled him to the ground. I think when he recognized who it was, he had mercy and let me take him to the ground, but the people from the church thought it was the greatest and we all had a good laugh over it. It was a fitting way to end the time there.

I hope to go back again to see the finished house we started.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

2.16.2006 Prayer Walking the Nicaragua Way

Nicaragua Dave here,

We are in the process of assembling some 600 pictures from the trip and I will have access to them soon. My camera, however, is still unavailable for use.I have a story to tell that I don't think we have pictures of anyway and is probably one of the highlights of the entire trip.

One morning the guys were invited to be a part of a group of men that pray through the town we were in and neighboring towns. I really didn't think anything much about getting up at 4:00 AM to do some praying cause I do some of my best praying at all hours of the night. So here we are at 4:30AM piling into a van to meet the group of Nicaraguan men set to pray through the neighborhoods. So like I said all the Americans piled into a red van and drove up to the church which would be the starting point.

There sat a slightly used truck. Ah, Ok a greatly used jalopy pickup truck with a 3,000 watt power generator lashed on the rear. Toward the front of the pickup box setting on top of a specially made platform sat giant speakers along with the electronics to run them. It was a pretty awesome sight to see the power house PA system mounted on the back of a pickup truck powered by a portable generator.

So at 4:30am, they started up the generator, plugged in the boom box as the input to the PA system with Christian music and cranked up the volume. Wow, my pant legs vibrated to the music. Unbelievable. Off we went down the street with about 5 or 6 Nicaraguans in the back of the truck in front of us and us Americans following behind. A microphone was passed around to the men in the back of the truck to preach short Jesus loves you type messages through the PA while the music blasted away. We moved down the street away from the church with a plan to go to a neighboring town some 3 clicks away. We pulled out on the road and headed toward the town. The truck in front speeded up and a cloud of blueish black smoke billowed out the tailpipe of the truck with the aroma that would rival sniffing an oil can. I have never in my life seen so much smoke come out of one little engine. The could became so thick that we could barely see through the fog. We made it to the next town and slowed to a crawl which seemed to diminish the smog spewing from the truck in front.

Now we've reached our destination with the music still blasting and with the mic still being passed around, we slowly made our way up and down the streets of the town. Every city in Nicaragua has a city square in the middle of the town. We made our way to the city square and the truck in front stopped and the men piled out of the truck. I thought we are going to prayer walk the city around the town square. Awesome, I could get into that.

The next thing I know a lug nut wrench appeared and there they were lifting the side of the truck up off the ground while a skinny little guy slid under the truck and put a jack under the back tire. A flat tire. So there you have it tire changing the Nicaragua way. I just love the way things are done in Nicaragua.

The tire came off and what do you know there's no spare. So the tire is thrown up on top of the red van and at 5:00 AM we pounded on doors to find someone to fix the tire. Can you imagine that. I guess the Pastor thought it was probably too much for us Americans to digest and we were brought back to the house we used as home base to catch another couple hours of sleep before breakfast.

The rest of the story was told to us by the Pastor later that day. When we left to get the tire fixed, the music still played on and the messages still were given. Upon arriving back with the fixed tire, a crowd had gathered around the truck and was listening to the music and messages. The people of the city wanted to know if they could come back every day.

I tell this story not make fun of the Nicaraguan culture, but show how different the mentality of the people are. Here in the US the cops would have been called and people would have been hauled off for disturbing the peace. In Nicaragua, it just a natural way of life and a blessing. Man I just loved it there.

Many of the houses we painted were nothing more than something slapped together from scrap tin with black plastic vinyl hung up for interior walls. The floors were dirt. Most had nothing more than a single light bulb hanging in the middle of the room from a electric cord run over to a neighbor's house. And yet almost every place we painted always gave us something to drink or eat. We blessed the food and drink to keep us from getting sick. I drank everything from cold coffee to coke in a bag with a straw. No not that kind of coke. Fountain pop is sold in a little plastic baggie with a straw through the knot in the top of the bag. Sometimes, the locals will just chew a hole in the corner at the bottom of the bag and drink the fluid that way. It's not too difficult once you get the hang of it.

Pictures next time. I promise.

Nicaragua Dave