Puerto Rico Journal

June 4th, 2019

May 13 and 14.
Days Three and Four.  First days at our Puerto Rican worksites.

Monday morning, we arose and hurried down to the dining area for a breakfast of eggs with ham. (More discussion of the food later in the journal). The same strong coffee was available, as was steamed milk for making our own café con leche. After breakfast, we lounged around, waiting for the various members of the local organization to show up.
Luis was one of the first to arrive. He told us about himself – he earned a masters degree in geography from the University of Massachusetts, was working with the Methodist Church on the hurricane repair as a volunteer and was from the town of Aibonito, a few miles away on the twisting roads. He would be assigned to one of our workgroups – to serve as interpreter and generally help out. (As it turned out, he was assigned to Group One, my group.)
Others came in. JJ appeared to be a safety officer, stressed the wearing of appropriate gear, and asked about doctors and nurses within our group. Saul was the overall leader. We divided into groups – I was a member of Group One along with David, Beth (Baker), Sherry, and John. We would be sent to a specific house. Groups Two and Three formed and were told a little about the dwellings they’d be helping with.
Next – we were given blue shirts with the United Methodist logo on the front and John (Juan) Wesley’s admonition “Do all the good you can”….on the back, in Spanish of course! More people arrived, who were members of a film crew! We all put on our shirts, shots were taking of some of us getting into the van, and later – shots were taking at our worksite. We spent a few minutes doing “fake work” for the benefit of the camera – I guess the “fake” nature of the work was to help keep the noise level down.
Our particular worksite required a climb up a very steep road, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a steep road anywhere in Indiana, not even in Brown County! As I sat in the back seat, I felt I was almost flat on my back. Not only was the drive steep, it also required us to turn on the steep grades. Our rental car made it up the slope, though.
We were introduced to the homeowners, Jorge and his wife, Nancy, who had lived in a tiny basement area after the hurricane. They had no water or electricity after Maria hit and at least three months later. Now, they were living in a rental 5 minutes away.
Cement was being prepared to pour over the floors the day we arrived and we helped with that task. For myself, the this involved shoveling sand into the cement mixer. The recipe was something like two 5-gallon buckets of water, one bag of cement and 20 shovels of sand. Actually, it came out more like 40 shovels some of the time. The paid workers poured it out when the consistency was right – kind of like cake batter or dough. It was transported by wheelbarrow to the rooms farthest from the front door.
The second day, work on the floors continued, but Sherry, Beth and I were put to work priming the outside of the building with white primer. By the end of the workday on May 14, the floors were poured, about 2/3rd of the outer walls were primed and John and Gabi were threading electric wiring through the walls. The cement had been poured and leveled over the majority of the floor.
The place was starting to look more like a house.

To see a video of the house we worked on  when we were just getting started with our work, follow this link:https://www.facebook.com/rehaceimpr/videos/2254453678218520/

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