5 a.m. wake-up call from the head leader Jeff with his soft tone telling us to rise and shine. Getting up this morning was a bit tough but the only thing that helped me get out of bed and not ignoring Jeff was that today was the last day we were working on the church and we could not be late, and also seeing the beautiful sun rising in the sky. We all headed down to breakfast for the last time at 5:30 a.m. and talked about how close we are to being done with the church and how excited we are to just do our very best today!
While driving down the road right before we hit, what seems to be endless, the bumpy roller coaster to our village, we see Frankie, Wendell and other people from his crew off to the side. We ended up driving to the church garage for Wendell to bring back a spare tire for Frankie's truck. While driving on the rocky road to the village, we were all expecting to see Frankie driving slowly because of his tire, but he ended up getting to the work site way before us and not needing the tire.
We started just a little later than usual. Everyone was excited to work and began as soon as we jumped out of the van, but not until we drank the milk of what seemed to be ten full coconuts from the shells Frankie had cut open for us. We also ate the fresh coconut after it was cut in half. Everyone liked it and was drinking/eating away. The coconut definitely had a different consistency to it than what I am used to, but it was good. The phrase that came to me was "when in Belize ..." Even though some people within the groups hadn't worked with each other, we all blended very well together and got work done. Brian and I were measuring the length of the beams and marking, Mo and Maureen would hammer in nails then they would switch off to Tim and Stephanie.
By 10 o'clock, we had gotten the beams up and were starting to put the flat boards up against the wall for the front of the church. There was a good rotation from everyone, asking someone if they wanted to hit the nail since they had just hit one, making sure people were okay and not tired since people were holding the boards in place while they were being nailed in and wood shavings were flying everywhere and covering them.
Then we took a break for lunch which was great because we were all starving. We sat within the building and were going back and forth telling some cheesy jokes and riddles. In the end, I think Frankie won with the riddles, even though Jeff figured out most of them. Personally, I'm still not sure why a man would name his horse All Jokes!?
Then we started back up. It seemed to me that everyone was giving it their all just because they knew these were the last two hours they had left with working on this church that we had been putting sweat and blood into, and wanted to see it completed or pretty close to completed before the end of the day. During those last two hours, there was a different vibe that I felt. Maybe it was the weather since the sun was behind some dark clouds, a nice breeze going and some thunder in the mountains but also, we only had so much time left together.
Time flew and before I knew it there was only 15 minutes left before 3 p.m. In those two hours, we had finished nailing in the boards of the top front end of the church and the minor details like putting in the windowsill and thinner beams on the outside of the church. At the end, we had a good audience from the villagers and were taking pictures with them and the crew members in front of the church. Frankie came up to all of us and individually said thank you for helping and good luck with whatever you do in life. He holds a special place in everyone's heart. Saying good-bye was bittersweet but we all knew it had to end at some point. We then hopped in the van, all covered in dirt and sawdust, and traveled back to the retreat center. This ride didn't seem as bouncy and long, it actually seemed short to me and I didn't mind the ride. We were all in good spirits, Brigid tried touching the pigs again, but once again they ran away!
All and all, I think we had given a lot of ourselves and put it into building the new Catholic church for these villagers who really do appreciate what we were doing for them. But we also received some great knowledge, whether it had been about Frankie and his co-workers, about their life and heritage, or about the villagers who came to talk to us at the work site. This experience will impact my life greatly and also my fellow members on the trip/my new friends. Miss everyone at home, be back soon!