Three SOWER couples and a SOWER on Assignment (SOA) couple served at Way of the Cross for December (project dates Nov. 28 - Dec. 16). There was an additional couple scheduled, but they cancelled when they were delayed for some dental work that had to be redone.
We were solo SOWERS at Way of the Cross for November plus, of course, the SOA’s who showed up somewhere in there. I’m never sure how the bookkeeping works on that but we pretty much operated in separate orbits other than showing up at chapel together in the mornings. Come December when the SOWER couples assigned to WOTC for the December project arrived we became all one big happy. SOWERS and SOA couples joined together for devotions each work day morning and did some group activities such as dinners and going to a Handel’s Messiah Concert together. Mostly the SOA man worked on ministry vehicles while the others of us worked on ministry buildings.
The SOA lady and SOWER ladies worked together. Maybe it’s a gender thing. You see little girls interacting playing dolls, having tea parties, etc. Little boys engage more in parallel play. Playing in the same sandbox but playing with their own trucks.
There were the usual spots in the ceiling which required repair where the gypsum board had become collateral damage in skirmishes in the war against roof leaks. The basic layout of the building roof makes it an uphill battle to prevent water infiltration. Gravity and sagging with age (Oh! How we can all relate to that!) has not made the situation better. There are a few low spots and the roof coating material does not respond well to ponding water. The structural work and the roofing systems that would provide a somewhat permanent solution are way beyond economic reach for the ministry. The result is an asymmetric conflict between an overworked staff and volunteers against the inexorable forces of gravity, wind, water, rot and termites. So we replace pieces of ceiling and mud them and sometimes do it over again in the same spots a few years later and sometimes new spots appear with the same problem.
This year there was a new wrinkle - a huge hive of bees right above one of the holes in the ceiling. Once we had enlisted the assistance of a former beekeeper the repairs could proceed. The men worked on the electrical circuits in the cross garden and fountain area. We changed the lights in the vehicle shop and the attached storage room and installed a new man door on the vehicle shop.
The ladies worked mostly on preparations for the Big Feed in Matamoros, Mexico later this month. They packed gift bags and food bags to be handed out at that event between Christmas & New Year’s. They cleaned the Training Center office, dorms, kitchen and washrooms to be ready for teams for the Big Feed. They sorted eye glasses to take to Nicaragua for Medfest in January.
There were some further repairs done to the fifth wheel trailer borrowed for Celebrate Jesus security and then bought by WOTC. An independent volunteer group came from Oklahoma to do a few things. One of the things they did was put new laminate flooring in the bathroom and bedroom area of the fifth wheel trailer. They noticed a rat in the trailer.
Richard, one of the SOWERS, put his electronic rat trap (Victor M240CAN Electronic Rat Trap) in the trailer overnight on his last night there with no results and then he had to pack it up to head down the road. I was impressed by his testimonial about it’s effectiveness and searched on line. Home Depot in-store had the best price over the on-line options. Our new trap caught the rat in the trailer and one in the Training Center kitchen. A staffer borrowed it for a week after we left for Nicaragua, then put it back in the kitchen when she headed to Nicaragua. I left a sticky note reminder to myself on the cupboard in our fifth wheel and picked it up from the kitchen when we returned at the end of January. At first I was a little disappointed to see it had been left unbaited and turned off. After brief reflection, I concluded that was a better state of affairs than a month-old dead rat. Ew!
One cold Saturday we had the opportunity to take blankets and food and hand them out in a poor neighbourhood in Matamoros.
Most of us trooped off to enjoy the performance of Handel’s Messiah at the University of Texas campus in Brownsville. The lead singers were professionals and they were competently backed by local amateurs for a most impressive performance of this Christmas Classic written for Easter.
After the SOWER Project
After the SOWER project ended another couple arrived. She and Juanita carried on helping with Big Feed preparations and with feeding the teams that came for that. He and I did some plumbing repairs on the staff housing and he helped with the feeding and cleaning up after the Big Feed teams.
Byron, with our encouragement, took over from us the contortionist task of repairing the hot water heater in the fifth wheel trailer. Byron and I investigated the A/C and I repaired it and then ordered the parts to convert it to an internal heating strip. Byron did some of the installation and then I finished it.
After Big Feed we hooked up the trailer and Byron, Ben and I towed it to Corpus Christie with me driving and them offering moral support as I slowly drove the distance constantly looking at the mirrors for signs of the fifteen year old tires disintegrating. They had serious cracks near the bead area so they made me seriously nervous. They made the trip fine and we shoe horned the rig into a permanent parking spot on a slope and with the help of a purchased floor jack and some digging got it mostly level. When we turned out of the property I realized that there was no practical way to make that right turn towing a trailer. The only way out if they ever decide to take that trailer elsewhere will be to turn left downhill into a cul de sac and cut and fill for a long time to turn around.
The Year in Review
That was that for December 2016. Here’s the year in review: