Thursday, August 11, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (12) No Way I'd Try That!

Luis, Kayci, & Romero
Kayci and I stood at the top of the terrain overlooking the top of the home. We were watching Romero as he leaned away from the ladder with a circular saw in his nand, fighting and forcing it along the top of the 9' boards, cutting a perfect angle on which the roof would later rest.

We agreed that this man was a crazy daredevil who would do whatever it takes to get the job done. "Guate Style" is a term that we picked up along the way, and Romero is the perfect example. If a job is looking difficult, he will either find a way to make it work using existing tools and textiles, or if that doesn't work, he will manufacture his own tool. Incredible adaptivity by demand of necessity. There is simply no option here to fail. It simply gets done.

Today was our third day on the home construction. I had noticed with a great deal of trepidation that 3 other sections of the roof needed cut. Romero hadn't done it yet. Both this year and last year he has taught me a great many tricks of construction, but I was hoping that this would be an exception. It just seemed to skilled and too risky.

I was sharing this with Edgar, and he laughed and told me, "Romero is no working to the bricks for very long." He went on to tell me how Romero is a master with concrete, but has only begun working with wooden frame homes this year. I was even more amazed by his skill.

Side note: Edgar is our bodyguard, guide, teacher, driver, advisor, and basic lifeline while we are out in the countryside working. He is completely self taught in English, and is absolutely extraordinary. I hope that some day my Espanol will be as good as his English. Having said that... he also has a very unique flair for our language, and that is punctuated by his extraordinary laugh. We all want a sample of his laugh for a ringtone.

Side note #2 We always know the whereabouts of Edgar and Romero. Edgar's laugher brightens each moment, and Romero can be heard at a distance with his incredible whistling. These are two great guys to be around. In an earlier blog from Guatemala 2010 I wrote about each of them quite a bit. Two very amazing men with real integrity and action-powered belief.

So, today we arrived at the worksite, and about halfway through the day, I overheard Romero speaking to Luis. Luis is the son of Norma, who we worked alongside last year to construct her home. Luis worked with us every day last year and has become an invalueable team member. His English is excellent and he helps translate when our gestures, faces, and antics fail to communicate.

After listening intently to Romero, Luis turned to me and said the following, "Chad, Romero wants to know if you remember how he cut the boards for the roof yesterday?" I said cautiously, "yes." He turns to Romero who understood my positive answer (he was anticipating it) and then Romero speaks and Luis again translates, "Romero says that you are to cut the boards for the roof." Without missing a beat, I said, "no." This is significant because I have never said anything to Romero's requests except, "ok."

Romero smiled at me, laughed, and then walked away to check on the other home being built by our team. And so I stood there. Wondering what I do now? The job can't continue until those boards are cut. And so... I figured that I would get started and see what I could do. I remembered how he prepped the cut, and I began lining up the guide boards. I finished prepping everything... and then I waited.

And stalled.

He didn't come back. So I decided to run the extension cord, set up the saw, get the ladder lined up, discussed the process with Kayci... and Kellie... and Shawn. But still Romero hadn't returned... and then I waited so more.

And stalled further...

He didn't come back. So I took the saw in my hand, climbed the ladder, stood above the top of my board and like a crazy man weilded the saw in my hand... and after sweating and shaking and straining... I made the cut.

And Romero promptly returned.

And then I got to recut a section that was not correct! And later cut two additional sections, and then received some very coveted words, "Chad, es tres bien."

There are many reasons to be here... and without a doubt we are making a difference in the lives of people who are in need of the basics: we clothe the naked, and give food to the hungry.

But, for my own selfish reasons I also come to Guatemala. I love that I am so challenged here to reach beyond my own issues of safety, security... and I am able to see the growth of the work. I love the bumps, bruises, and the fatigue. I love knowing that my hands and feet can bleed and my lungs can breath deeply to pull in the air.

I love that I have this opportunity on this physical and emotional and spiritual level to put my own efforts out there, take the lumps, take the corrections, and see lives changed through the coordinated effort of a handful of people who transform belief into action.

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