Saturday evening we met at the airport, pictured from left
to right is me, (Kevin), my wife Kathy, Ed Phillips, Jake Conboy and Darrel
Peavy. We met up with the rest of the team for week two of the project. This was
Ed's first CWE trip, he hadn't traveled much and was a little uncomfortable.
Kathy and I had both been on several trips, as had Darrel, this was Jake's
We all made our introductions and then boarded our flight to Miami, and then on to Bolivia. This crew consisted of sixteen men and three women. I was very blessed to be able to go with my wife this time, we had each been on trips before but never together.
Upon arrival in Santa Cruz, we were met at the airport by Pastor Jake and Sharon Wiebe, and Marco. He soon earned the nickname "Loco Marco". We loaded the bags in Marco's truck and then everyone hopped into Jake's bus except Kathy and I,. we rode with Marco
He started the truck by doing something with some wires under the dash. We were riding down the highway in his overloaded Ford F-1000 pulled by a four cylinder diesel engine when the engine quit. He pulled some lineman's pliers out from under the seat and began to repair a wire splice that had come loose. He did all this and somehow kept that old truck on the road.
We drove across town to Jake and Sharon's home. They operate a seminary on the same property as their home. It was a much better sight than the last Bolivia trip. They even had hot water. We had flown all night and were tired, but I didn't want to waste my trip sleeping. Several of us hopped into Jake's van and drove to the job site to prepare for the next day's work.
All the perimeter walls were up and the interior walls were started. My job would be to finish laying the block on the interior walls, pour the baptistery floor and steps, and pour the concrete floors in the rooms next to the baptistery.
The congregation was holding services in a structure of poles with a tarp cover. A pile of dirt with bricks on it was the platform and the floor was dirt.
The new building would be a welcome site to this growing group of believers.
While driving home, Jake drove us by another church that CWE built in 2000, so we could get an idea how the new one should look finshed. Some of the kids in the area came by and we snapped a few pictures.
I spoke with some of the people that worked on this church, they told me the neighborhood was full of kids. They sure look like they're having fun.
Shortly after arriving back home, Sharon told me I had a visitor at the gate. It was Joel, (pronounced Hoel) We had met the previous year while working on the Open Door Baptist Church. We kept in touch through e-mail and when I told him I was coming back to Bolivia, he decided to visit with us and help build this church.
We wanted to check out the area, so Joel, Jake, Darrel and I took a walk down the street to a soccer game. Joel knew several of the people there and introduced us.
One of his friends was Juan Pablo. They said his name so fast we thought he said Don Pablo, like the restaraunt. The name stuck and that was his new nickname.
It was Sunday evening so after dinner we headed out to the Church for evening services. The existing building was very small. A young group was practicing some special music before the service.
Since there were no doors, and not much for walls, animals were free to roam as they pleased. It's not every day you get to pet Fido while listening to the Pastor teach.
Once the Bolivians arrived, we realized we didn't have enough room inside, so we moved all the benches outside and set some boards on blocks for additional seating. The young group got up on the makeshift platform to do their music. We heard a loud crack, it was the makeshift platform giving way under them. They jumped down to the ground and did their singing there. I was impressed to see that even though their building was a shack, the platform broke, the outside air was cold and they had to sit on benches made of boards and block, that they were happy to worship the Lord no matter the condition. Some of us back home could learn a lesson from them.
Monday morning came and we were at the job just after sunrise. I asked Jake Conboy to help me with the masonry work. He had done the same work when he went to Ecuador in 2001. John Wheeler made the mortar and jake fetched and cut block. He even laid a portion of one of the walls.
We were not able to get our shipping container of tools into Bolivia because it is a land locked country. We took our tools in suitcases. We were limited to small tools. This little saw made things a little more time consuming.
After a few hours of work we took a break and had some lemonade. The weather was beautiful. The sky was overcast the the temperature was about 80 degrees F.
While Jake and I worked on the walls, Joel helped build the trusses.
Pastor Jake and Pastor Tony poured the front porch. Pat Miller marked the top of the walls for the trusses And Dave Mikush mixed the concrete.
12:00 came around and a welcome site came up the dirt road to the church, it was the van with the ladies and lunch.
That afternoon on the way home, we heard a loud pop and then a hissing noise. It was the bus overheating.
We pulled to the side of the road, borrowed a bucket and filled the radiator. That bus made many strange noises.
We went home and waited in line to take showers. Pictured here from the left is. Mark Pierson from Indiana, Buddy Galpin from Pa. Hal DeWitt from MD. Barry Riegle from FL. Pat Miller from MI. me, (Kevin Kesler) and Jake from FL.
Tuesday morning Marco's truck broke down on the way to the church. He had all my tools so I took pictures while Ed and Jake helped the carpenters place the trusses.
. That is an ant or termite mound in the foreground. They were all over the fields out there.
By the afternoon, we had the walls done so Jake and I poured the floor for the baptistery.
The Church is located in a rural development outside of town. Cattle came by frequently.
Wednesday we formed and poured the stairs into the baptistry. There is no plywood to be found in Bolivia so we had to make due with leftover truss material. The wood is so hard you have to pre drill the holes just to get a nail in without bending it.
The ladies brought us lunch each day, we would just relax and chat while we ate.
Kathy likes coming to the job site and watching the work progress. This boy just stood there quietly and watched us eating. One of the ladies gave him a cup of peaches.
We walked around the area while waiting for Marco, I think he must have lost his watch.
We sat around with the Bolivians and taught them some English while they taught us some Spanish. It's amazing what you can learn when you have no choice.
Marco finally picked us up just before sunset, the clouds in the background are in the direction we have to drive, so guess what happened to us riding in the back of the truck.
That's right, we got wet,
We arrived home just in time to
eat, shower and jump in the bus for the ride to Wednesday night services at
Jake's church. I was so rushed for time that I left the camera at the house so I
have no pictures from that night.
Ed, Jake, and I decided to sing a special and play guitars at church that night. there were only two guitars and I was the last one up so I didn't get one, and I didn't know the words to the song. I just stood up there and smiled. I did know the chorus though so it wasn't a total loss.
There was a little boy that hung around the job, he would never speak, if you asked his name, he would say nothing. I sat him on the back of the truck for this picture. Pat made a wooden airplane out of scrap wood from the building and gave it to the boy.
The work for the most part was trouble free so we finished everything we needed to finish and more ahead of schedule. We left a little early and went to town to the open market.
I am six feet three inches and Mark is six feet six inches, while walking through the market, people would stare and even laugh as we walked by. They would look at our feet and move to our heads. I couldn't believe how many times it happened.
While at the market, Ed bought a guitar and Jake bought a mandolin. The mandolin has the body of an armadillo for the body of the instrument. We sat around that evening and played some music.
Ken brought his harmonica with him and joined us as we played.
We also had some fun and carried on a CWE tradition. You'll have to come on a trip to find out about this one. Friday was our free day so Jake drove us about an hour out of town toward the mountains to a boy's home that he is associated with. The boys go there voluntarily, most of them had been living on the streets in the city. They have a few acres there and grow tangerines and a few other things. (I don't know what they are or I'd tell you) They are green and grow on the ground.
Darrel is being nice here and peeling a tangerine for Kathy. They were sure juicy and sweet.
They are in the process of finishing this church building for use by the boy's home, the adjacent camp and the community. While we were there CWE decided to help the church with funds for it's completion and a few other things.
Believe it or not, this is the church restroom. I'll bet you'd go before you went to church, wouldn't you?
We drove by our church building on the way back to the city for some final pictures.
Rafael, Kevin and Jake Back side of the church. Dos Hermanos Front of the church. We drove into town for dinner at a restaurant and then stopped for gifts to take home.
While most continued shopping, some of us went back to the Seminary. A couple of us took a walk and saw some interesting sites.
Cows everywhere. The boy in the bucket. Not so modern transportation.
While out walking, we went to a place where a man was hand making guitars. Dave bought a nice one. It was a fun experience. The man spoke no English so Jake and I were the interpreters. Jake was good at getting the words out in Spanish and I did well at understanding what he was trying to say. We were able to walk away with a good deal on a hand made guitar. We posed on the way back to the seminary for this goofy shot.
We played some more music that night
, Barry and Pastor Jake sat and enjoyed the music. We got up early and were at the airport by 5:30 am, posed for a group picture and said so long to Jake and Sharon. I have a feeling we'll be back in Bolivia again and I look forward to it.