Thursday, October 30, 2008

Unless the Lord Builds the House

its builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1 This is the verse on the back of the Grace of Giving t-shirts. This year there was a problem getting the trailers with our building tools and equipment across the border. Greg had gone down Saturday like he always does to be sure all the building material has been delivered to the building sites. He was stopped at the border, refused to give the official a bribe, was turned away and his vehicle information entered into the computer. He called Saturday night to tell us we might not get across the border this year. In faith we loaded up and went to Del Rio planning to spend the night and try to cross Monday morning. In fact, we redistributed the loads and three vehicles went across the border Sunday evening with the perishable food for the week’s meals. Monday, three trailers went to another border crossing. They filled out a lot of paper work and were finally given approval to cross…BUT the paperwork had to be translated into Spanish and typed, not handwritten. Then they were told the few pieces of treated lumber could not cross. Then they were asked to produce all the registrations on all the vehicles. It was an all day affair being hassled at every turn. Meanwhile back at camp, the teams had gone to the work sites in anticipation of an early crossing and an afternoon of work. Some of the men had hand tools and put together two outhouses the “old fashioned” way with hand saws, nails and hammers. A paint roller and brushes were purchased at a hardware store. That evening at camp about 7:00, Greg called and said that it didn’t look like they were going to get across and we would probably meet at Del Rio Tuesday morning and come home. Everyone was disappointed at the prospect of having to leave before the houses were completed, especially after having started work. Four families were on the verge of not getting the housing they desperately needed. Ever since Greg had been turned away at the border on Saturday, many prayers had been prayed. We knew that the Lord COULD open the border, so we began to pray fervently that He WOULD open the border. FIVE MINUTES later, Greg called to say he had been told “Come to the border. You are cleared for entry”!! However, we didn’t celebrate until we got the call that they were actually across the border. Then we cheered and prayed prayers of thanksgiving!!! It was nothing short of a miracle!! God’s arm is not short! There is nothing too hard for Him! All things are possible! The trailers arrived at camp a little after 9:00 and were met by a cheering group of workers!! After completion we dedicate each house giving the new owner the keys and cheering when they unlock their door for the first time. Then we all spread out around the house and individually pray. As I prayed at each dedication, I was well aware that that specific house would not be there had the Lord not changed the heart and mind of that official to let the trailers through!

The Housebuilding Process

This is a compilation of pictures from two worksites to give you an idea of the building process.

Loading up.

When we first arrive on the work site, there is a foundation and a stack of lumber and building materials.
Monday, the guys built two outhouses the "old fashioned" way with hand saws, hammer and nails.
The walls begin to go up.
Almost everything is painted before it goes into the house.
Many times the families will help build or paint as ours did this year.

Setting the outhouse in place.

The Finished Product

The house is 16 x 20. The front room is 10 x 16 and the two bedrooms 8 x 10 plus a loft

The kitchen/living room with two long shelves.
One bedroom has bunk beds and shelves. The other bedroom is left empty.
The Loft

Dedication of House

All the crews gather for the dedications.
Through an interpreter, we dedicate the house and present it to the family

Keys to the house are presented

As the door is unlocked, everyone cheers.
Then we all gather around the house to pray.

After the dedication our family and the family our crew built a house for last year, prepared dinner for us. Homemade tortillas baked outside and a meat stew!

Wherever you find a bathroom, you find a line of women outside it! Two years ago our crew had bushes. Last year the outhouse was completed on the 2nd building day. We were extrememly fortunate this year in that our site had access to a flushing toilet!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Three Happy and Grateful Families

This family also has a 7 year old son. My crew worked on this house
This woman has two children. She recently lost her husband to cancer. Two relatives have been paying her rent and they just got laid off the week before this house was built.God's timing is perfect, as always.

This family has three little girls. The husband works in the United States for three months at a time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Home Again

Got home Thursday about 6:00. I slept in until 9:00 Friday morning! :-) We traveled 5515 miles - 4515 in the car and 1050 on the tour and 16 states (not counting Texas). Some states we drove through twice and really covered and some we just barely cut through the corner of - but they count!!
Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, Indiana (a tiny corner), Missouri (a tiny corner)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Final Pictures

Woke this morning to fog!!! We were going to do one more scenic byway and head home. But God is good. We tried to get a hotel near the "detour" but they were full. The state college was having a concert for Obama! *sigh* So we drove 30 miles back to a hotel and Gypsy was very confused - if she had told us to turn right rather than left we would have saved a lot of time! In any event, since we were 30 miles from our byway, we drove out of the fog AND there was also fog at the byway but it had pretty much burned off by the time we got there. And if we had stayed near the byway, we would have just driven on and missed it. See? God is Good!! So with these shots, you can see one where we stopped by the side of the road and two that show the lingering fog (which rather adds to the pictures). We are in Columbus, Ohio tonight and should be home Thursday afternoon!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Two More From Today

We have one more spot to look at tomorrow and then we set Gypsy for home!!

It's Just Gets Better

It's just so hard to believe but it really does. These were taken from the top of a mountain. We could actually see New York City through the haze. The picture didn't turn out - no surprise but Ben and I agreed that this is as close as we want to get to New York City. :-) On the way through Pennsylvania on I-80 we were just surrounded by foliage. At one oint we were driving and there was a hill on our left that just went on and on and on covered in foliage. Unbelievable. I've been seeing this for over two weeks and I haven't gotten tired of it yet!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Friend For Lunch

While at a lunch stop at a covered bridge, here was this little inch worm so of course, we invited it to lunch! :-)

We finished up our tour and are now on the road home. Moving slowly along the backroads today and tomorrow. Then we will probably jump on the expressway and head for home. Then I'll add up the states and miles we've covered.

Every Once in a While

You're driving through a town, turn to the right and say "Whoa!!! Pull over!" And that's what happened with these shots. I believe the town was Uxbridge and the bridge we stood on was in honor of an Olympic competitor. Anyway, sometimes you are surprised by beauty!!

A Tidbit For You Lobster Lovers

Our tour director said lobsters didn't have a good reputation in the early years. In fact they were served to prisoners. Then they thought that must have been cruel and unusual punishment because they decreed lobster could only be served to prisoners three times a week. If you ask me, that would be punishment! :-)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lobster Dinner

Well, I had the lobster tonight. All I can say is......I had the lobster tonight! I got the meat out of the claws. I broke open the lobster and got the meat. I did the "lobster thing". Now I never have to do it again! :-) And there are no pictures although I did keep a clean bib for a souvenir.

All This Beauty....

and I'm on the phone!! Isn't Ben a peach for taking this one? :-) In my defense, I had used up most of my text message limit for the month and needed to save the rest for the Mexico trip. And a lot of the time we can't get a signal.

Portland Head Lighthouse

Where's Ben?

We stopped at the Portland Head Lighthouse. There was a "group tour photo". I stayed for the photo but Ben went off to take pictures. Imagine that! :-) Anyway after the shot, I didn't know where Ben was so I wandered around myself. We only had 30 minutes so when I found what I thought was "the" shot, I wanted to find Ben and see if he had gotten. So I set off. As you can tell Ben was high above watching me. He knew I was looking for him and finally I stopped, looked up, saw him and began motioning frantically. We got the shot. You won't see it. It needs some work and truth be told, the shots you will saw in the post above are probably better! Anyway I thought you might like to see my "hunt" LOL


Today we drove into a "photo stop" at a lake. We were about a third of the way back in the bus and the other side exited first. Usually they exit from front to back and then back to front. I could tell Ben was anxious to get off the bus but didn't know why. When we got off the bus, he told the tour director "I saw a sight back there where trees are reflected and I'm off to take pictures. I should be back in time but if I'm not, just pick me up on the way out." And off he went!!! These are three of the shots he got. Ben has had trouble with his right knee this whole trip. When he got back, he said "I may not be able to walk the rest of the day but it was worth it!!" I think you will agree.

From the Front of the Bus

I still am amazed that for five days we were very near the front of the bus. (Today we were about a third back in the bus) Yesterday we were on the first seat! Ben just raised the camera and snapped this through the windshield.

Four Pictures

I chose four pictures out of the 100 Ben took yesterday. Was a hard choice, believe me.