Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 1 - Getting Physical

Those first minutes were like those awkward ones at parties when you really don't know anyone and you need to make that pointless small talk to break the ice, you know what I mean? But, in this particular case you don't know the customs or even speak the language.
One of our prayers that morning was to be “outward” focused and not be self-conscious or self focused. If we were truly looking to help others, and looking to meeting the needs of others there shouldn't really be time to be overly introspective.

At first Pepper and I just observed the younger men as they started the process of moving the two huge piles of dirt and cement mix from one side of the ground to the other. Then back to the other side again. No water was being used at this point, just the moving of the dry dirt and cement mix back and forth.

At some point after slowly combining the two dry piles into one larger pile the water was also slowly added in a small dike like structure at one end of the pile. They created a small damn that would trap the water and the dirt concoction in a small pool area. As all the ingredients were slowly turned with hoes and shovels the dry mixture became a mud like mixture, and then a slurry consistency.
When the time was right, we shoveled the cement mixture into plastic containers. These were really just five-gallon rectangular jugs cut in half so that they became rectangular trough. In this country nothing goes to waste, everything is recycled into something useful and practical.

At this point the older gentlemen would take the cement on their trowels and with a very specific flick of the wrist toss this pancake batter against the mud hut, and it would stick beautifully in place. When I tried this same move, my concoction hit the wall with a splat, and just fell off to the ground (much to the amusement of all my coworkers).

So it continued all morning. We would bring the dirt down the single lane trail from the road to the hut in wheelbarrows, add the concrete, add the water to the mix, and load up the plastic containers with the pancake batter for the masons.

There was a consistent and beautiful rhythm to the work, no one was in a particular hurry, the work was all getting done, no orders were being shouted, and everyman taking a turn working and then resting from the hot sun. 

This was a picture of harmony and cooperation in a workplace that I hadn't seen before in thirty years of being around blue collar workers here at home.

Indeed, there was much I could learn from these men, & much I needed to observe.

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