A short-term mission team from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mt. Prospect, IL is sending us updates from the field. They are helping to build houses for impoverished Vietnamese families, while experiencing Lutheran Hour Ministries outreach first-hand. Please pray for the volunteer team and for our staff.
Today we built our last house. Our muscles are rejoicing, but our hearts our heavy. Our time in Vietnam is winding down.
Building the home is not really all that labor intensive for us, but mostly stretching and reaching. Ladders are not readily available, if at all, at the build site. We start at the bottom layer when attaching the water coconut leave panels to the house frame. All team members hands are needed. And all team members hands can reach! We move up from the bottom rhythmically placing layer upon layer of panels and it isn’t very long before those of us who are more height challenged can no longer reach. Stools then seem to come out of no where as both home owner and neighbors go into their houses to provide them for us. Taller team members stretch to reach, shorter members hop on ladders. But by the final panel, all team members are too short! We have adapted to this challenge quickly. Shorter members come down from the ladders, taller members now get on them. Shorter members are now needed to steady the rickety stools as even our taller ones are stretching to reach above their heads. Some team members will use bamboo poles to hold the too high panels in place for the ones up on the ladders. It truly is a team work approach and by Home Four we make the necessary adjustments fluently and quickly. Wow! This home went up fast and with little confusion. What a huge difference from when we built Home One just three short days prior to this one.
The residents of this house are an elderly couple and their two grandchildren. The grandfather has some health issues and is “forgetful”. They watch us build with big smiling eyes.
Each home costs approximately $1200 USD. We donated $1000 USD to each home. The money we sent ahead pays for the labor of the tradesmen, ie bricklayers and construction leader. The home owner must provide the materials that cost above the $1000. For this family, since they do not have enough money to pay for the nails and the additional material beyond the bamboo that is gathered from their property, their extended family members saved for one month contributing most of their earnings so their family members could have a stable roof over their heads. We learned that these donated homes are referred to as “Love Homes” in Vietnam and no one needs to ask why.
The children that gathered at our build site today were treated to Crystal Light packets and bottles of water. We showed them that to mix the drink they must shake the bottles with the powder in it. For one little girl, the shaking seemed to be more fun than the drinking. She carried her sweet drink around with her for most of the day, shaking it rather than drinking it. All children begin learning English at the age of 6 in school, so they wanted to practice their English with us They counted for us and told us their name in our language and smiled and giggled. Pastor Kris taught them to juggle rocks. I am sure their parents were thrilled!
There was a hole in our team today. Unfortunately, mild illness prevented two team members from coming with us to build. Jodie and Mark stayed behind at the hotel. Our team nurse, Carol, believes it is either heat exhaustion or “travelers revenge”, and since washroom facilities are limited, they decided they would be more comfortable staying back. They are much better now, but please pray for them so that their strength can be restored for the rest of the trip.
We are tired, but running on full! Our bodies are filled with energy and our hearts are filled with joy! God is amazing!
Our love to all of you,