And speaking of working, I have also been really, really busy here at the office in the last few weeks. My first priority in the office is our project in Haiti (church campus), but I've actually spent more time working on a few other projects. It's really a gift to me to be a part of several great projects. I've spent the most time on a project in Guatemala called Casa Bernabé. At the sight there in Guatemala, there is an existing building that serves as an orphanage and a small school. As the orphanage is expanding, the existing building has been too small to support all their needs. The ministry wishes to add a second story and expand the footprint a little bit. The idea of this is provide enough living space for all the orphans and staff as well as enough space to provide school for the orphans and other children in the community. The design of a second level on a (somewhat weird) existing building has definitely presented challenges, but we finally finished it yesterday! I feel really blessed to be a part of such a neat and interesting project.
Another project I've been working on is called Spring of Hope, Promised Land. This campus is also in Guatemala, and the missionaries there want to help with the malnourished and uneducated population of children in their town. I say campus, because there are several small buildings to be built on the property, with schools, feeding centers, and housing. I've been working on the school buildings. All the buildings in Springs of Hope are small, simple and easily reproducible so the ministry will be able to construct the buildings now, and easily build more when needed and when funds are provided. Spring of Hope is like Casa Bernabé in that the ministry is active now, but in need of expansion to meet the needs of the growing population of children. We'll be able to finish this project soon, as well.
Although I've been working on these other projects, my team's Haiti project has progressed really well, too! We've got almost all of the construction documents ready, meaning the majority of the work is done, and now we need to go through them and make small changes. I'm excited that we'll be able to finish this project soon, too! The missionaries in Haiti have enough money to begin building some of the buildings -- the other church, housing, and basketball courts (yes, I know, not a building) -- so I'm excited that some of our project will be hopefully up and ready next year! I've also spent some of my time working on the other team's project here, which is a facility for YWAM (Youth with a Mission) in Haiti. This is a project for a local Haitian pastor, and He would like a dormitory and retreat center to serve the youth. In that town in Haiti, Gonaives, there is a huge population of kids under 18, so we hope this facility will provide a positive place for them. Like I said before, it's really a blessing for me to be a part of so many great projects!
When I'm not in the office, I've been doing some other volunteer work here in Atenas. My host mother, Ana, works at the elementary school library, and one week she invited some of us to come to the school and help with the kids. One class of kids (probably about 6-7 years old) came to the library, and two of the other interns and I presented a short story to them (in Spanish). Although it's just a silly story, it must've been a hit with all the teachers. Apparently a couple other teachers overheard our story, so then they wanted their kids to come here the story, too. After a while, I guess the news spread, so we have all these groups of kids coming to the library to hear us speak! We've been to the school now three separate times, and according to my host mother, there are more teachers that want us to come back. It's kind of funny, like we're some sort of traveling attraction ("Come See the Tall Gringos!!!" or "The Circus is in Town This Week"), but it's been a really good way to connect with the town here. People always ask why we're here in Costa Rica, and it's always a great opportunity to explain who we are and the work God's doing in Central America. I've also done some other volunteer work in Atenas, like helping at an English class once a week and helping one of the pastors here move.
Well I guess this pretty much sums up my life in the past few weeks. As some of you know, I'm planning to stay for another term here in Atenas (January to July), and I need to work this week and the next on all the details. I'm going home for the holidays, and it looks like I'll be coming back here a week before the next group of interns so I can take an extra week of Spanish classes. That'll give me an additional 3 weeks of Spanish classes, which although is never enough, it'll help me some!
Anyway, until the next viewing, or as Mr. Schwarzenegger put it, Hasta La Vista!