Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sparks and Nail Heads Flying in Zambia

Tuesday March 25 was another beautiful day in Zambia. We have a set routine already: breakfast at 6am, devotions at 6:30 and on the bus to the work site at 6:45, with the lunch prepared and packed in a cooler by Connie, Jean, Kendra and Eva. Today we stopped at a few construction hardware stores and picked up a couple new aluminum ladders and other supplies to make work safer and more efficient. This detour gave us the chance to travel through a socioeconomically very different part of Lusaka on the way out of town. For a few of our team members this was their first look at how most of people in Africa live. It was a sobering reminder of why we were here and why this project matters.

We are helping build the Africa Central Region Conference Center. When completed, people from all over the heart of Africa will come here for training, education, camps etc. This facility will belong to the Church of the Nazarene in Africa, but it will be available for booking by other groups and organizations all year round. The large dormitory building we are helping to finish is the first phase of the project. Once these facilities are finished W&W teams will be able to stay right on the site to continue building the conference center without the 1 hour commute (longer in rush hour) both ways to work every day.

We are getting to know our boss Clement and his number two man Pherie (spelling) better as we go. They and the other Zambian workers and the pastor of the church on the property are a joy to work with. At lunch time we all gather under the mango trees to eat lunch and visit. We had a very special moment Tuesday as we asked the Zambian pastor (90 years old) to bless our lunch. While I could not begin to understand his language or any words in his prayer, in my spirit I knew it was a powerful prayer and he was asking God to help and bless all of us working on the project.

Jillian and Mike are painting rooms ahead of the rest of us who are installing ceilings. They have the privilege of painting every plastered surface three times, to properly prepare and then finish coating the walls. Juan is in the central hallway as the saw man, as two teams of installers yell measurements at him, sometimes at the same time. Juan cuts the 2x2 ceiling grid lumber to our specs and then the rest of us up on scaffolds and ladders install the grid work that soon will hold up 4x8 foot ceiling panels. The biggest challenge so far has been driving the masonry nails into the plaster and block walls all the way around every room. These anchor points are critical for supporting the ceiling, but they are a challenge. We literally have sparks flying and sometimes nail heads ricocheting around the room and occasionally off of one of us. Thanks to glasses and hats, we only had a few scratches to show from the ballistic nail heads Monday. On Tuesday, with the addition of some masonry pre-drilling sparks and flying metal was almost eliminated.

We are well ahead of Clement’s schedule already having installed ceiling grids in 5 large dorm rooms and their adjoining bathrooms. When we left work on Tuesday the hallway grid work for this segment of the building was about 80% complete. At this point we have already done about twice as much work as Clement expected from us, and he is doing an excellent job getting lumber and supplies to stay ahead of our brisk work pace. It is great having everyone working in the same general area. We all have our jobs to do but we get to interact with each other and the Zambian workers frequently throughout the day. Between the fun work atmosphere and being 6 times zones from home, most of us are surprised when we here “lunch time” or “time to go home”. We are all very tired at the end of the day, but tired like a bunch of school kids after a day at the amusement park, ready to go back and hit it again the next day.

We had another excellent dinner today with meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, jello salad, pasta salad, and amazing cherry pie for dessert. It is so nice to come back from an 11-12 hour day to some seriously good comfort food for dinner and great company to interact with in the evening, before heading off to bed to rest up for another day of rewarding working and witnessing what God is doing here in central Africa.

Must have coffee!

On the road to work.

Lunch break under the mango trees

Clement is the man in the middle (Tim's right) He is our boss.

Our fancy lunch table

The exterior of the dorm building we are helping to finish

On the bus waiting for a store to open 

Mike get at least most of the paint on the walls please.

Jillian showing us how it's done

The central hallway where we all get our 2x2s cut by Juan.

Hall way ceiling grid just beginning

A room ceiling grid almost done. I'll show completed grids later.

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