Written by Melissa
I have a new love.
I’m sure my husband Larry would understand. He’d probably even be proud of me.
I am in love with a circular saw.
Not just for the power of it.
Not just for the smell of sawdust.
Not just for the macho reasons guys have for loving power tools (whatever those may be).
But for the fact that it represents a new skill, a new accomplishment, a challenge met. And an amazing day.
Today we started building a house in Cerro Alto, Guatemala. For those of you who don’t know me well, let me explain why this is a big deal to me:
1) I have never liked to sweat. I would rather watch people play sports than to play them myself.
2) I have never liked to get dirty. As a child, I would sit on the edge of the sandbox, but would never touch the sand much less get in it.
3) I don’t use power tools. I like calculators and cash registers.
4) I don’t know how to read plans. I like mystery novels.
5) I don’t speak Spanish. Today’s job foreman doesn’t speak English.
And yet today: I got sweaty. I got dirty. I used a circular saw. I took instructions en Español. I did a decent job. And I loved it! (And I’m pretty proud that I still have 10 fingers.)
I feared building a house. Don’t laugh at me. I know it sounds silly, but it was so far beyond my comfort zone, my skill set, and my experiences that it really had me stressed. I kept hoping up until the last minute that I would really need to hang back at Mimi’s House and wash dishes, or pull weeds, or trim bushes, or cook, or anything that would keep me from having to go to a construction site and build a house.
But now I’m so thrilled I did!
I rose to the challenge and everything turned out fine. Better than fine.
You see, today I was around some amazing people. First there was my team. We aren’t some finely tuned cohesive unit that came down here to crank out a house. We are just a bunch of people with the same passion to serve that came with ready hearts. And yet we’re well on our way to providing houses for needy families. And we worked well together and had fun doing it.
Then there were the children. The children of Cerro Alto hung around us today…partially out of curiosity, partially out of boredom, partially out of the hope for some free candy. Some of them didn’t have shoes. Some of them didn’t eat much today. Some of them don’t have beds or toothbrushes or underwear. All of them were dirty. All of them were poor. And all of them were smiling.
They helped us. They worked hard. They carried lumber up hills. They held tape measures. They moved cut boards. And they smiled and laughed and made fun of us and asked questions we didn’t understand, and played with pretend guns made out of our wood scraps and begged for candy and touched our shoes and broke our hearts with their massive needs. And they made our day.
I am here for those children. I am here for the kids who have no hopes of breaking the cycle of poverty without outside intervention. I am here to hand out candy to a child so that I have the opportunity to tell them I love them and Jesus loves them and someone cares about them. I am here to laugh at myself so that they’ll laugh with me. I am here to hug them simply so that they’ll have affection today. I am here to share my lunch so that they know someone cares. I am here to tell them they’re pretty. I am here to tell them they’re handsome. I am here to tell them they’re intelligent. I am here because I have to believe that what we do this week will give them some hope that someone cares even though we don’t consider ourselves rich and we live far away and we can’t fix it all. I am here because I have to have hope that others will read my words, will hear my stories, will see my pictures…and want to be here too. I am here because I can’t not be here.
I have two new loves. The circular saw. And the children of Cerro Alto.