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Friday, 31 January 2014

Dominican Republic #1: A Team Built by Building

   In elementary and high school I was never the athletic type, so I missed out on the experiences gained by being part of a sports team.  In later years I have been part of committees and a school staff, where in some ways we function as a team for a common goal.  However, I would have to say that my best and most genuine experience of being part of a team occurred on foreign soil by doing construction work.
   Although we all attend the same church and had some acquaintance with each other, the service trip to Dominican Republic made us into a team.  We varied in ages from 15 to 65+, with three married couples, a single, and four individuals whose spouses stayed back home.  The team members had skills in the areas of business, education, skilled trades, problem solving, concrete forming, management, music, photography and writing.  Some had previous experiences in the D.R. and other Latin American countries.  We all had something to contribute, and it was such a blessing to see how each person was given the space to try different jobs on the work site.  Genuine concern was shown with simple questions like, “Do you need a break?” and “How are you feeling?”
The team minus Joyce, who was ill this day.
   By mixing concrete, scooping it into pails, carrying pails in a relay, hoisting them to the second story, passing them to the “pourer” and retrieving the empty pails our team made progress on the upper level of a school by making all the columns and the over half of the bond beams.
   But really, upon reflection, our team was much bigger than the eleven of us.  The Dominican skilled carpenters and general labourers, who knew how to make the forms for the concrete and had the muscles and stamina to do the heavy work of mixing the concrete and hoisting pails with a hook made of re-bar, were also part of our team.    Our translator, Victor, and our driver, Daniel, facilitated our labours through communication and transportation. Without these men and the guidance of the site foreman, Lucas, we would not have accomplished anything of value.  How can I forget the women who prepared healthy meals for us three times a day and did our laundry?  The “team” gets even bigger when we think of the individuals from Burlington who spent 10 days prior to us making the block walls (exterior and interior) and the teams lined up in coming weeks that will put on the roof, parge & paint the walls and finish up the classrooms so that they can be used to address overcrowding and to add a further year of high school to this K-10 school.

Bent re-bar used as a labour saving device

   Even those not directly involved in building but who donated money, prayed for us and gave us permission to leave our homes and workplaces for a time were part of the team.  Now I can see clearly that there’s no room for “lone rangers” in the kingdom of God.  We are hermanos y hermanas (brothers and sisters), as the Dominican people are quick to call fellow believers.

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