We are split into three teams (electric, plumbing, and painting). Thankfully I am on the painting crew. We begin in the dining room. The rooms at the rectory are large with tall ceilings
. The walls are cement and it takes quite a bit of paint to cover them. We are all business, well, once I save Chuck and Loc from the large cicada! (Don't worry we digress as the day goes on!) After lunch, which is plain noodles and small sausages that remind me of pigs toes, we head to the convent up the hill. It is a priority to paint the convent as the sisters won't come to St. Pierre till it is finished. The sisters, who are currently in PAP, will work in the community and teach in the school. The good news in the convent-no ceilings, just a roof which can't be painted. Eventually there will be a ceiling put in. We begin painting the rooms. Tom, the salty old dog of our group, keeps us in line. He is the cutter so has full possession of the ladder. Our paint is limited to two colors-a yellow and light green. The plumbing crew gets the water tower built. The electric crew gets the generator running. We bust it all day and get a lot accomplished.
Back in our spacious room, we take bucket baths. We have our own bathroom! Of course the tolit needs to be flushed by hand but it is not so bad. There is a shower but the water isn't running yet. Dinner is fine-rice, pork, plantains, and a vegetable platter (beets, spinach, carrots in an unusual sauce), After Kim and I haul water and wash by bucket, it is announced we can drive to the clinic and take real showers
. Another missed opportunity! We go up to the clinic anyway. Dr. Leopold lets us use the phone to call home. I get to hear my families voice even though the connection is spotty-heavenly!
On the porch that night we have reflection. I'm in charge! I read from the book of Mark, then read a prayer entitled "Thank You Lord". It seems to reflect how lucky I am feeling for my life, home, family, gifts. Our group of eleven are all completely different yet we all blend into one. This is one thing in particular I am grateful for. Going on a trip, in general, is always a risk. Here we are on a trip, in the middle of nowhere, with people we barely know. Yet we all get along and share openly. It is very freeing, you can get out of your box and not only survive, but thrive. Of course being mixed (male and female) the conversations turn to "what do women really expect from men". I don't think we solved this ancient dilemna though!
Travel Tip: Don't apologize when you leave the bathroom. Pretend it wasn't you.
Upon awakening I feel 100% better. Seeing the room, and the whole place in general, makes me realize it is much nicer in the light. There are bugs but not everywhere as previously imagined. The first breakfast is good-mangos, bananas, bread, and Laughing Cow cheese which I love. Our first job is to sort the trucks. This seems daunting but quickly comes together. A small crowd gathers to watch us work. It is a unique experience being the minority. A white person is a rarity in the mountains, and even in PAP. The team carries the generator around to the back of the rectory. Looking back thinking of the weight and the awkwardness of going around trees and rocks, we were very lucky no one was squashed.