Constructing a church building on the river

Building a place for God’s people to meet on the river is quite a challenge, as we and a team from Canada learned first hand.  The task is enormous.  I will try to describe the work done by these wonderful men for the people of this village. 

On Sunday, we loaded (all of this by hand onto a truck and by hand onto the boat) 35 sacks of cement, 100 sheets of 2′ x 7′ asbestos tile, 1000 bricks, a dump truck load of sand (with shovels), 1/2 dump truck load of gravel, enough wood for all the framing, floor, and walls (Brasil wood weighs about 3x that used in the USA – it sinks in water!) for a building about 8 meters x 12 meters.  On Monday, we traveled about 4 hrs to the village and spent the afternoon Monday and the morning Tuesday unloading the same, from the boat, by canoe, about a quarter mile to the river’s edge at the village. I can’t describe the work this entailed and the awkwardness in moving a great deal of weight in this manner, in the equatorial heat.  Just as an example, the sand was shoveled from boat to canoe, brought to shore, shoveled into buckets, and carried through about a foot of soft muck to a man on shore, who passed this bucket through a line of several men and deposited into a pile.  We only lost one load, eight 2×4’s, in a canoe that KEVIN was driving.  The wood sank in 30′ of water and could not be retrieved. 

We then began the framing, which took about two full days with everyone working together, measuring, cutting, nailing, chiseling, moving wood from stack to work site, etc.  We had two men fall through the floor, Kevin fell off of scaffolding that snapped, and Kevin, again!, fell through the rungs of a hand-made ladder when the top rung broke.  Many bumps and scrapes but no real work for the doctor.  We then hung the roofing tiles, a process which was highlighted by Waldemiro (a Porto de Moz church leader and carpenter) walking barefoot on the trusses and roof beams with a chain saw, leaning out and cutting all the edges to length. 

The last two days we took on the task of the cement floor.  This is helpful on the river for longevity because the building is on 8′ – 10′ stilts and the water will rise to the floor and stay there for 2-3 months.  Most wood floors need constant renovation because of water damage.  The sand, gravel, cement, and water had to be hoisted up the 8-10′, mixed by hand, and wheelbarrowed to the spot needed.  Kevin did all the leveling with a piece of wood, and the finished product was beautiful.  It just about finished us all, as well!

Many of the local Brasilians helped out, as well, and it was a beautiful illustration of men from different cultures working together in spite of language differences and different ways of doing things.  I would say that everyone there likely learned something new practically and the experience itself will be a lasting memory for all of those that participated.  It is simply amazing that these men paid a lot of money to come and to not just help a little,but to spend themselves so completely, for the sake of a few river people, and for the sake of their Master and that a few more might know Him!

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