Construction nearing end for Men's Basketball on mission day five
Today has been a long, but very productive and inspiring for me. I will give you a quick outline of the happenings of the day then share a few powerful takeaways I had from today.
We came to the worksite knowing we had to work hard to get the things done that needed to get done, but did not expect to work until dark, which we did. Before lunch we cut metal posts for the fence around the playground and basketball court, moved some dirt from one side of the playground back to the other (which seems like a daily task), constructed more of the play set, and of course loved on these amazing kids.
These kids come out everyday in the hot sun to offer themselves up to serve us, while we are suppose to be serving them. They help any way they can, fill our water bottles up when they get empty, and are constantly mixing concrete and shoveling dirt, all while having a smile on their face. It really is awesome to experience the community here, how everyone joins in to help and are always positive even though they have basically nothing. Most of the kids don't even have shoes on their feet.
We have been working hard but it didn't seem like we were making much progress. After lunch we returned to the site and got right back to it. All the posts had to be set in concrete before the end of the day so we could finish tomorrow. This time of the day is the hottest so the work is a little slower and there are more breaks.
At about 5:00pm it seemed like we started to realize that we needed to kick it into gear in order to get done what we needed to, so that's exactly what we did. The last two and a half hours we made significant progress and we were able to see that progress start to show in the play set and fencing. The kids and other people from the community were there before us waiting to see us in the morning and were still there as we left around 7:30 p.m. We set ourselves up for a great last day tomorrow and will be able to see the finished project and the impact it will have in the community.
I want to share a couple of things that stuck out to me today.
Since the first day, I met a friend at church named Josue. We connected immediately even though we couldn't communicate other than saying amigo to each other and hugging. Today was the fourth time I've gotten to spend time with him and our connection has grown each time. The day before I handed him an old baseball jersey that I had brought. He tested up in gratitude as I hand it to him and couldn't have been happier. I choked up a little bit too. He told me the day before that he wouldn't be able to come today because he had to work.
This morning I got off the bus and there he was, with a collared shirt and jeans (dressed for work). He was waiting for me to give me something. It was a Yankees jersey of Alex Rodriguez, who earlier in the week he had told me was his favorite player. With the shirt was a hand written note translated in English that he wrote, signed, AMIGO. He then preceded to say goodbye and went to work. He sells fruit to people on buses in the streets of Santiago. He is thirteen years old. This was a very powerful moment for me. He couldn't just accept my gift, which wasn't a big deal for me, it was just an old jersey I found in my closet, but because of his loving heart he gave me a jersey of his that was his favorite baseball player. This jersey is probably worth a couple of days of his wages from his job. I'm excited to see mi amigo tomorrow at church.
Another thing that stood out to me today was the consistency and positive attitude of the leader of the ministry we are working with. The foreman of our project is named Melchor and he is in charge of every aspect of our project, all while attending to the needs of all the kids in the community. Throughout the project he also has jobs and answers all our questions as well as questions from the kids, and other Dominicans helping out.
While today seemed to be going slow, and there are a fair share of mess ups and complications he had a smile on his face the entire day and the entire trip. I know if I was in charge, I would be getting frustrated and telling people to get out of the way. Melchor embraced the community and encouraged everyone all while finding a way to get things done. It was a great example of how a leader should operate.
As a final thought, it's been really amazing that I have learned so much from the people here even though I really came to help them. They have very little compared to us, but have more joy than any group of people I've ever experienced. This trip has been a blessing so far and I'm excited to see the final project tomorrow.