Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Stairs

This post is long overdue, but I thought I would post it anyway :). Most of the time my work is behind the scenes in a support role. I get to support our staff at the various ministry sites and get to do a lot of logistical work and coordination for our student teams. In March we had a large spring break outreach of 34 people! Too be honest this was probably too big of an outreach for us. But we have to commit to the size of an outreach almost a year in advance. So at this point in time, as SI-Costa RIca continues to grow and develop, our outreach size is often an educated guess or a prediction of where we think we will be at a certain date. Well let's just say things didn't go as well as anticipated and we had room at our sites for about 20 people. Fortunately we had just rented an old auto shop to turn into a carpentry shop, so we used about 10 people from the team there helping us to scrub walls, put up dry wall, paint, etc. That left us with about 6 people without a site.

In our model of ministry we seek to incorporate the teams into the ongoing regular ministry that our staff are doing with or without teams. Of course having teams here allows us to do some things at the ministry sites that we couldn't do without them, but we do not want to create things to do just for the team, especially if they will not be sustainable.

A month or two before this team was to come Pastor Gilbert mentioned that he was recently told by the city that he needed to improve (read tear out the old and put in new) stairs on the property of the church. Pastor Gilbert is the pastor of the church in Las Fuentes that Cailah partners with in our Social Work site. So I decided that I would work with the 6 without a site to build the stairs at the church. It was a project that needed to be done and it would help further the ministry of one of our ministry sites and key partners.

The only catch would be that I would be leading this project and that I have little construction experience. Fortunately what experience I do have has come in Latin America and working with concrete! Much more fortuitous was that there was a contractor in the church without work who agreed to work with us for the week. Without Eddy we would have had issues!

So the students came and we worked hard and built some stairs. For me the experience was much more significant. As I mentioned I usually do the behind the scenes coordination for our outreaches and our staff do an incredible job of working with the students who come day in and day out while they are here. During this outreach I had the privilege of working all day every day with students. I was reminded of the powerful experience a trip like this is for the students that come. I was able to witness many "ah ha" moments in the lives of the students I was working with and was able to see them interact in a beautiful way with Eddy and the other church members who worked alongside us. I was reminded of the power of what God is doing through us and the privilege it is to work with students and the poor.

These days I often think back to the students I worked with in March and to the other emails and comments from past students as i am swimming in a sea of logistical work and preparation for our summer outreaches. Remembering the impact an outreach had on one student and the impact of a ministry site on one person in the community gives me motivation to make the phone calls, write the schedules, and to do what God has called me to do.

Here are a few photos of the stairs:
The Before

From Las Fuentes Stairs

Getting ready to pour
From Las Fuentes Stairs

The Construction Crew
From Las Fuentes Stairs

The Finished Product
From Las Fuentes Stairs