Construction is My New Hobby

 

Week 2 in Ensenadawas full of new experiences. I worked construction the first half of the day, and then at three o’clock I helped with VBS. The construction project was building a house for one of the local pastors. The pastor, his wife and small children used to live in a small shack built out of pieces of wood, plastic, and other scrapes. The shack was built on a hill. When it rained, the water would flood through their house. Agua Viva was finally able to raise funds to build them a small stable home for them.

 

I have never worked construction before. Because of my ignorance about construction, I figured I would be given a simple repetitive job and be placed in a corner to work, but this was not the case. There were six men on the American team, and many of them were more than willing to teach me new tasks.
Kim taught me about installation. I measured out dimensions for the installation, and then I used a staple hammer to tack it in the walls. I really enjoyed banging on walls, it released so much stress. Even after running every morning for an hour, I needed to hit things. I’m thinking about inventing a new workout program. I think I’ll call it, “Construction Toning.” By the end of the day, Kim told me that I was a professional at installing installation.
Hector, a Mexican who was raised in the States, taught me about domestic wiring. And then Dave, an American, went through the whole process again with me. I was part of setting the wiring in the walls in place, which took a long time. I learned about hot (black), neutral (white), and ground (copper or green) wiring and how they work. The colored plastic around the neutral and ground wires may vary, but the hot wire will pretty much always be black. The black wire carries the power, the white wire keeps the power “flowing,” and the green wiring is the safety. It’s the safety because it is the wire that is grounded so that it can send unwanted electricity down into the ground through the lightening rod. Unwanted electricity might be from a lightening strike or if someone drops a hair dryer in the sink or something. I also learned about breakers. There are different kinds of breakers. There is one main breaker box in the house and there can be smaller individualized ones installed in plug-ins. For example, the plug-ins with a “reset” button contain a breaker. There are also other main breakers that are run by the power company or by the government. I was able to install a few light fixtures with Dave and watch Hector install a light switch. After I gained some experience, Hector was confident that I could install my own light fixture by myself. It was a challenging task to stand on a high ladder and assemble the wiring of a light. But I did it! I learned a lot about wiring this week, and I realized that I enjoy construction work.
After I was finished wiring, I worked with Cliff. We built a frame that we would use to pour concrete in to make a front doorstep. Cliff explained how things worked, but he let me do everything. I learned how to use two different saws. I measured out one 5ft X 8in and two 3ft X 8in from scrapes of wood. After cutting them out, I nailed them together. Disappointingly, we weren’t able to set the concrete since buying the concrete ended up not fitting into the budget, but I gained more experience working with electric saws and measuring out planks that I personally was grateful for.
Monday and Tuesday I helped with VBS. There were fewer kids this week, so it was a lot easier to manage crafts and story-time. The American team brought a parachute that the kids had a blast playing with. And then we also played a racing game. I encouraged competitiveness through lots of shouts and faces. Esmeralda, one of the older girls, is very dramatic. After her team lost, she pretended to sob. She knelt down to the ground, picked up some dust, poured it over her head, and yelled, “Porque?! Porque?!” which means ‘Why?! Why?!” It was so funny.
Wednesday and Thursday I helped with VBS for about an hour, and then I left early during the crafts and games to help Dave with his bike ministry. He came to Mexicowith bicycle tools, tubes, and tires to repair some of the bikes in the community. About 15 kids brought their bikes. I changed many tires and fixed a lot of holes with patches. I’ve gotten better at screwing off wheels, taking off tires, and changing tubes.
Overall, these past few days have brought encouragement like I have never had before. In my life, I’ve had a lot of examples of men viewing women as weak. A woman’s place is in the kitchen or taking care of babies and not in the garage or building a house. And I’ve had the examples of women themselves playing the “ditz” role. I’ve seen them buy into the mentality that they are incapable of anything related to construction. Because of these examples, I grew up feeling inadequate and believed that somehow my brain wouldn’t understand how to hammer a nail or how to connect wires. The team God brought to Agua Viva helped me to uproot that mentality that all men think as the world does. The American men, who looked like your typical tall, white, military-affiliated, 50+ year old men, gave me so much confidence. They treated me no different than a young man. They were patient and only spoke positively about me working beside them. I never felt discriminated against for being a woman. And the women on the team were hard workers. They did everything the men did and encouraged me with many affirmations.
One of the American men told me, “So and so told me that he was going to leave {the construction site} for a bit and was giving me the control over the women. I told him that I was not in control over them, and that they are fully capable of taking care of themselves.” He then added, “I guess that’s how some men view women, but that is a sad thing.” I don’t think I will ever forget that.
I don’t think men OR women are supposed to be above the other. Scripture says, male and female, are both created in His image. Women are only oppressed because of the fall that scripture talks about. I greatly appreciated the mentality of equality among male and females expressed in the team that came to serve this last week.
Praise God for a hard but wonderful week.
Before I’m zonking out at night, I’m reading “The Heavenly Man” by Brother Yun. (Thank you Darrel Watson for recommending it back in 2009!) I am finally reading it, and it’s challenging my faith. It’s about a Chinese man who God calls out of darkness to spread The Gospel. It is a crazy story of bold faith. No time to waste. All or nothing.
Jesus is Lord.
I’m so happy for the weekend. I’m hoping to for another long run on the beach and try out some new foods. This last week, I ate cow head in my tacos. Although I’ve had these before, I think it tastes even better in Mexico!
This coming week please pray for the team and me in these ways:
-Strength and energy throughout the week
-Joy and patience with one another as we serve
-Open hearts and eyes to Truth
-Peace.
Many thanks friends!
Alyssa
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6 thoughts on “Construction is My New Hobby

  1. Alyssa…

    This was so encouraging and refreshing to read 🙂 So many of those thoughts have been changing in my life too and it's really cool to see how your experiences with God and his people are challenging you to grow and see things differently. Praise the Lord 🙂 sister, you are SO living God's will right now and I am so honored to be your friend, thank you for sharing 🙂 it is definitely iron sharpening iron :)I am glad you are getting to know your culture <3 praying for you always Chica <3

    Best,
    Genesis

    Like

  2. What a great experience and mission God has given to you! Great work! I'm praying for you too. God is truly amazing by how he works through the tasks he gives us.

    Kelsey Walker

    Like

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