Homes of Hope…Day Three

The alarm went off at 6:00 AM again and this time I struggled to get out of bed. My bones were weary from the prior day’s efforts and I had to quickly down a couple of cups of coffee, in order to get this old man going. We all lined up outside and prepared to go to the camp again for breakfast. Chris came up without Brad and it appears Montezuma had rared his ugly head at Brad. Brad was unable to make day number two and had to be left alone to fend off the evil spirits, in his hotel room. The buffet was set up when we arrived at YWAM/Homes of Hope and this time sausage was added to the menu, after only bacon the first day. I was never so glad to see it. I needed the protein for the day ahead.

Sean and Chris at breakfast! HHmmm!

Sean and Chris at breakfast! HHmmm!

After breakfast and our morning round of updates and instructions, we jumped back on our bus and rode to the house site. We circled up and listened, as Colby gave us the details of the second day and assigned tasks. He stated that after an hour, volunteers would accompany the family to Wal-Mart and purchase items they needed and could use in their new house. Sean raised his hand and went to Wal-Mart about an hour after we started work. Chris climbed back on the roof with Brody and had to finish the plywood. Throughout the morning they continued with adding the felt and then finally the shingles to complete the roof.

Dora the daughter on their way to Wal-Mart

Dora the daughter on their way to Wal-Mart ,That is paint in her hair

I was given the detail or trim work and it is an very precise process with the 1×2 lath wood. Not to mention you have to balance on a ladder, to do the top of the wall trim (after falling the day before I was nervous). This trim was substituted for our normal tape and floating and the seams were all covered with wood. The remaining exposed sheetrock was painted! We kept getting in each other’s way and I truly think I got about half the paint wound up on my hands, arms and face as I touched and grabbed for balance. It was a little frustrating, but had to be done this way, to complete the house inside within the time allotted. Sean took the camera to Wal-Mart with him, so I have very limited photos of the second day of work.

Sean helping Dora decide

Sean helping Dora decide

Sean took the job of babysitting Dora the family’s daughter and told me later that Alberto and Reina had never shopped at Wal-Mart. Both became very emotional as they went for their first visit. They weren’t really sure what was what and had to be coached and directed to items that would be of benefit. Sean personally bought a bicycle for Dora and when I discovered this it stirred my feelings. After all Sean thought, why shouldn’t she have a bike? Sean said he was very touched during the entire shopping experience and was only sidetracked by trying to keep up with Dora.

Sean and Chris putting the bike together

Sean and Chris putting the bike together

They got back earlier than we thought and rode around a few minutes to let us finish the house. When they arrived, we emptied the supplies, groceries and a few toys inside the house. While they were gone shopping, we set up a new bed set, a propane oven (note that one can operate this oven easily using top-quality propane fuel sourced from the likes of Discount Propane), and a dining table and chairs for their use purchased by Homes of Hope from Ikea. Honestly, this was not too much work. Moreover, it felt good to be of help to someone. However, at times, it felt a bit overwhelming because we were working continuously.

That is when we thought that we could really have done with a local movers company to help out with all of the heavy-lifting, but we got it all shifted and into position in the end. We then set up lunch, which Reina made partially. In addition to the pre-made sandwiches we had her tamales, frijoles and salsa. I couldn’t eat enough of her fabulous tamales. We ate outside their new house and discussed our efforts.

The family ate first

The family ate first, The Tamales were in the big pot…Yum!

After lunch we circled and each said a word or gave a thought to the family and had our wishes translated by Felipe. I have never been prouder of Chris and Sean in my life. They both stated very impassioned, prophetic phrases and when it came my time I stated I was glad that Reina’s wish of not being wet any longer was coming to fruition. Reina started crying and I couldn’t control my emotions and burst out crying also. It finally came time for Alberto to speak and he teared up and thanked us profusely for building their new house and providing shelter for his family. They had recently sold their old house, possibly by taking the help of firms like Ben Buys Indy Houses, in order to move to the new one. Their old house was not big enough to shelter their family properly, which is why the decision to opt for a new house was taken. Anyway, we gave them the keys to their new house and let them go in for a few minutes and then knocked so as to be their first guests. It was a phenomenal ceremony and allowed everyone to express themselves.

Alberto and Reina brought to tears during the ceremony

Alberto and Reina brought to tears during the ceremony

We presented them with a photo of our group. The words on the photo expressed the house was given with love in hearts and a desire they would cherish their new home. We left and waved our goodbyes and headed for the hotel, with time left to shower and explore before the final nights activities. I was ready and was literally all worn out. I had no energy left, as we boarded the bus I looked back and knew that in my 63 years I had never done such great volunteer work.

The first thing they hung on their walls

The first thing they hung on their walls

Homes of Hope…Day Two

The wake up call came after my first cup of coffee and I took a quick shower. This allowed Sean an extra 30 minutes of sleep and I am guessing all three boys needed the sleep. I went to the lobby and found Dennis the Defender Direct man waiting. I then called Chris and Brad to make sure they were up and around. Slowly but surely the crowd managed to arrive and we finally boarded our bus at around 7:05 AM. Breakfast was at the YWAM/Homes of Hope campus and was actually fairly good, except I can’t eat bacon and it was the only meat this day. We received our last-minute instructions and anxiously hopped on the bus that took us to our home site.

The Current Home

The Current Home

We arrived after bouncing over many a pothole and chugging up a hill that I though the bus might not make. The Blue Team poured out and we looked the existing “home” over and most of us kept our eyes turned down, realizing that this family actually lived in the shack next to the concrete foundation poured ahead of time. The wife and children came out and met us all and joined in the circle for prayer. Colby our construction leader and other staff went over the procedures and safety rules. Felipe said a prayer for our safety and the home we were building. Colby and Brody the assistant construction leader, immediately divided up the team into painters, framers and the woodcutting team. Sean got on the framers and Chris, Brad and I were the team on the saw, cutting all the various lengths needed to complete the walls, windows and door jambs.

Felipe leading the prayer with Reina, Ariel her son, Sean, Chris and Brad

Chris, Brad, Sean, Felipe leading the prayer with Reina, Ariel her son

We emptied the van of all the tools and supplies that were not already on site. All the wood had to be divided up and carried to various stations prior to any work beginning. The team did a great job and everyone that could, pitched in and carried something. The siding and plywood stacked over by the painters. The 2×10’s, 2×8’s and 2×6’s were stacked by the cutting team. The 1×4’s went to the framers who immediately started framing the trusses. Sean joined Brody and they started hammering away with this group.

Sean Nailing Trusses

Sean Nailing Trusses with Brody

Each station had sawhorses that acted as tables to lay the wood on for prep. Brad and Chris secured the saw to a a couple of 2×6’s, set a jig in place after a few small cuts and away we went. We (Brad, Chris and I got a routine going (I should say Brad and Chris, as I was just trying not to get in the way). They tacked a piece of a 2×4 at the exact mark that would allow each piece of lumber to be dropped into the jig and cut it to the appropriate size. Bright young men I must say! I think they have done this before. In no time all the wood had been cut and marked in red, as to the lengths.

Nomadic Texan with Chris on Saw

Nomadic Texan with Chris on Saw

The framer teams nailed the two side walls together including the siding. Felipe our translator and really good carpenter put the middle wall together. We then lifted the two side walls and tacked the middle wall in place. I tacked 2×4 pieces to the side walls to provide support and stop the drifting. This was all done in a matter of an hour or two. I was astonished at the progress, the coordination, cooperation and organization of the Blue team! It was amazing.

Walls up with two side walls

Walls up with Middle Wall in Place

We then framed in the rear and front walls without the siding to get all four sides in place. I then climbed a ladder (against Kim’s direct orders) and tacked in the 2×4’s above the rear walls. I think Felipe did the front walls. The team then tacked the siding on the front and rear sides. Brad helped in the rear and I must say it was a precarious perch with only about 12″ of sand to work with and walk on.

Brad Nailing Siding and Trying Not to Fall Down the Hill

Brad Nailing Siding and Trying Not to Fall Down the Hill

Now that the walls were all secured the trusses were brought in and Chris and Brody hopped on the top headers and started installing the trusses. I had to look away as it made me very nervous for Chris to be up that high, with literally no support or safety net. Another team started putting Sheetrock up around the interior walls. Brad was working with Felipe and I started working with them and Colby to some extent and we finished most of the Sheetrock except a few small places by lunch.

Front View at Lunch

Front View at Lunch

I was on a step ladder and missed the second step on the way down. Tumbled head first into the concrete, scraped and bruised both knees badly. My pride was hurt more than my body I think! It was embarrassing to have the only injury of the build! Sean was elected to string wire and run the electrical in the house from the junction box to all outlets. This became a major task! Glad he knew what he was doing!

Sean Listening to the Other Old Guy Talk Electricity

Sean Listening to the Other Old Guy Talk Electricity

In the morning talk, the lady mentioned that we should each try and ask the family what they would like about their new home and what would make them most happy. Would it be a kitchen to make family meals in? New aesthetic wallpaper to make them feel proud of their home? There is a lot that they could choose from. During lunch, I asked one of the staff to translate for me and I asked Reina what would make her most happy about her new home. She stepped back and thought a brief second and responded with “I will be so happy not to be wet anymore”. It was all I could do to maintain my composure. I thanked her and turned away, losing it completely. My eyes swelled with tears, as I realized how lucky I am and the fact I am never concerned about my “roof” leaking on a dirt floor. Certainly, hiring roofing contractors Roanoke, America, or in other places could be quite convenient for many people whenever they encounter a leaking or damaged roof, but it is still a luxury for many throughout the world.

Reina with her Son Ariel and an Unidentified Gentleman

Reina with her Son Ariel and an Unidentified Gentleman

It got to a point in the afternoon where I could no longer lift my right arm. This could be due to the excess hammering while building the deck. Maybe we could have just hired a professional deck builder to do the job. Anyways, next time I must use a 2×4 piece ahead of the build and work my muscles up. I turned to the painting table and joined the fabulous Ruth in painting the plywood deck for the roof. I learned that her former husband was a painter by profession and she taught me a few tricks about painting with rollers and with brushes. Needless to say, all the paint did not get on the plywood, and my arms were covered with white paint by the time we stopped and started packing up the tools and supplies. That is when I realized that DIY is not always a good idea, whether you are painting a table or a room. Sometimes, it could be wise to visit the experts to get the room or the table painted.

Ruthless Ruth the 80 Year Old Trash Talker

Ruthless Ruth the 80 Year Old Trash Talker

Anyway, Chris and Brody got all but two pieces of the roof deck in place. Brad and his team got all the exterior siding and all but a few last minute Sheetrock cuts in place. We were a tired but happy bunch of workers. We loaded all the tools into the van, placed all the extra wood and supplies in the house and nailed a piece of plywood over the door. By this time the windows were also in place. We loaded up and left for dinner at the camp. Dinner was the “Taco Man” and the staff raved about the quality of the tacos. They did not mislead us. We ate until we couldn’t breathe and left for the hotel.

The Taco Man

The Taco Man

Sitting in the dining room I realized how tired I was and how emotional I got at Reina’s comment. This old man was ready for bed and I hit the hay without even taking a shower. Sean left and said he would see me later. It only took about 30 minutes and he came back and jumped in bed. It must have been about 7:00 PM. Were were both so tired that sleep came quickly. Wake up call left for 6:00 AM again and on to Day three!

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas



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