During our stay
in Chile, group
members wrote in our "team journal." The only editing has been
done for space/clarification/political correctness!
One: "No Birds" - Katie Egan
Our journey began with a flight out of Chicago; a delay caused us to
run to our connecting flight in Atlanta. We watched them work on
our engine. The pilot talked to his apprehensive passengers
saying that a bird had gotten caught in the turbine - after they
balanced a few blades, we would be on our way. After a few
sarcastic comments on board, we were warned no "birds" were allowed
inside the plane, either.
Once in Chile, we took a bus that
wove through the Andes. We
drove through wine country, cactus fields, and fruit orchards.
The town we will be working in, Limache, is known for its tomatoes
(which are muy deliscios).
We picked up on this quickly when
waiting at the bus stop. "Paradero Number Ocho!" or "Tomato
Eight!" was heard as we rode from Limache to Olmuè to visit the vendors and look
around town. Overall, we were too tired to enjoy everything the
towns had to offer, and went back to the cabañas to prepare for
our orientation meeting and late-night barbecue. Tomorrow we are
on the site!
Day Two - Janet D. Hertz
We began the day with saying goodbye to our neighbors to the north
(Canadians). Following breakfast we arrived on the site for our
safety training & meeting of the families. The ladies
provided some cookies & coffee for us. Then we proceeded on
with our first day of work. There were three houses for us to
work on. We divided ourselves & began work. We
moved the necessary material above to compose a roof for the
house, while others placed a floor over the previous existing
roof on house 3. The remainder of the workers worked on
correcting the frames.
... During this work myself & Maggie experienced troubling
times with the roof. Maggie caught herself as she fell &
managed to only have her feet dangling over a lady & a
bicycle. I (Janet) on the other hand made my first trip on the
Chilean roof an eventful one. In my attempt to hammer a nail in,
my foot manged to go through the roof & I was unable to stop from
falling completely through. My head broke the board leaving a
very nice scar and I landed next to a woman on a bed. Praise
Allah I did not land on her. I was surrounded by Chilean women
telling me to sit, but I told them everything was fine. I managed
to walk away with only minor injuries, so now my only objective is to
even out the scar, ha ha.
We had pasta & Chilean salad for
lunch made by the homeowner (whose house I fell through).
Following lunch we broke up into our groups again. As the
children got out of school they surrounded us. Brother Rob gave
them candy (suckers). I played fútbol with them. At
first the girls were afraid to play, but once they watched a bit they
joined in. The game was slightly uneven - the kids vs.
me. There may have been a language barrier; however a simple game
of fútbol was so instrumental to building their trust &
At 5:30 we left the work site & returned to 'Tomato 8'. We
dinner around 8 (veg., beef soup, Chilean salad). Following
dinner we chatted & thought back on the day. During the talk
we kept referring to Freddie B. as "burgaisa", a name that
is no longer allowed to be said because of the confusion in its Mexican
meaning (Claudia assisted us w/ the translation). We began the
day with saying adios to our
Canadian neighbors in the north.
However, we were introduced to something so much more in the day.
Chile is our home for the next week & a half & I am sure that
these Chileans will become our family & neighbors despite the
Day Three: "Uno Mas = One" -
We began our day with breakfast (jamon
y queson) but we did not have dulce
de leche. After our breakfast Jaime picked us up for the
work site. Despite Janet and my (Maggie) large battle wounds, we
decided to be troopers and continue on. The workers were divided
into two groups - Egante & Maggie, and everyone else. Katie
and I had a great time with Fernando. We also put in insulation
on both walls and put up the thick concrete material. The nails
refused to go in straight, but we remained steadfast in our
efforts. The other group built frames for house #3. Several
times we all needed to move the large frames.
The children of the neighborhood were
very friendly. When I
(Maggie) gave a little girl a dulce
(a sucker) her father gave me a pamphlet. Even in
Jevohah's Witnesses solicit on Saturdays. All of the kids
gathered around us to take pictures and play fútbol. We
stopped work 1 hr. early to play with the children. They are
After work Claudia, Fred, Katy R., & I went into Limache's city
center to check and send our email. The town was completely
different than the one we visited two days ago. (We had
previously gone at 3 which is traditionally time of siesta.) After we finishing
sending emails we went and walked around the city. We stopped at
the many market places. After trying to convince Fred to purchase
a stuffed heart which said "Te Amo"
each time you squeezed it, the woman showed us an anatomical key chain,
which excreted white fluids when squeezed. It was a hoot!!
After our market experience, we stopped at the Panaderia (bakery) where we picked
up dulche de leche
pastries. While Katy, Claudia and I purchased our goodies Fred
ended up talking to a woman who drew a picture of Janet falling through
the roof. Apparently our accidents are hot gossip around Limache.
Following the Panaderia we
were picked up by Jaime's son, Jaime. He told of all about his
year in Texas, and how he was the translator for Pearl Jam when they
All of us are very excited for Viňa and Valparaiso tomorrow. Ciao!
Day Four: "Drinks on the House"
- Fred Berger
Morning as usual: breakfast @ 8 a.m., but today is our
first R&R day. We have big plans.
Jaime, Sr. picked us up at 8:30 to take us to Mass. We drove into
Limache and went to Holy Cross Catholic Church for 9 a.m. Mass.
It wasn't well-attended, but we learned later that this was an "early"
Mass, and they have Masses every hour, on the hour. We could all
follow the order of the Mass, but not necessarily the words.
Today was Mothers' Day, so at the end our special mama, Claudia and
other mothers were asked to come to the front for a special blessing
and a gift. This was very emotional, especially for Mama
Claudia. We love her so much!
After Mass Jaime took us to the train station, where we took the next
train to Valparaiso. Our plans are to visit both Valpo & Viňa
del Mar today.
About 45 minutes later we are at the Valpo port. As we stepped
of the station, we were greeted by the sounds of drums &
trumpets. Following the sounds, we discovered a parade and
celebration of Arturo Pratt and the historical battle at sea w/ Bolivia
& Chile. As Pratt went down with his ship, he vowed that
others would take up his flag and take his place. This rallied
the Chileans, and they won the next battle using his words as
motivation. All of the schools in the city marched up & down
the streets, and proud parents clapped when their children's schools
After we negotiated the parade route, we set off for a search for
O'Higgins - the restaurant where Fannie suggested we eat lunch.
We took a funicular, or ascendor, to the top of one of the many
hills. There we browsed and shopped and enjoyed a beautiful view
of the harbor. Upon consultation with some locals, we walked down
some steps and streets to get back to the bottom. There we hopped
aboard green bus "O" to take us to the National Congress, where
O'Higgins was located.
It was a wild ride! The bus pitched back & forth as we wove
through the narrow streets going back up the hills. We
would lurch to a stop, pick up or drop off passengers, and then blast
off to another bus stop. Finally we reached O'Higgins Plaza,
which was a park opposite the Congress. There were a couple of
places with O'Higgins as part of the name. After a quick call to
Fannie we located Restaurant O'Higgins..
Alas! But it was Mothers' Day! We were facing an hour's
wait, and we were famished. But Mama Claudia talked our way in
after a few minutes. After a hearty lunch (seafood, Katie Egan?)
we were surprised with what we Americans recognized as a round of shots
- on the house! Not everyone tossed back the mysterious green
liquor, but those who did were treated with a taste of Scope mouthwash
mixed with cough syrup. A good time was had by all.
We walked through some garbage-strewn side streets to get back to the
train station. Next stop: Viňa del Mar. We visited
the famous Quinta Vergara Ampitheater and Claudia exclaimed "I'm
happy! I can go home now satisfied!" We walked then to the
beach, but not before the men in our group were sexually harassed by
some 13-year olds who thought & said that Fred and Rob were cute - "bonito" Fred posed for a
picture with the youngsters, clearly making their day and sending them
all into giggles. Wait til Sally hears this one.
We caught the train back to Limache, where Cecilia (Jaime's wife) took
us back to home-away-from-home, Estacion Limache. Robert was on
his own fixing dinner for us, so we had spaetzle - German noodles with
cheese and onions, salad and drinks (non-alcoholic, of course).
Robert showed us the 3-liter jugs for beer that he is preparing to
purchase, and explained his plans for his brewery, along with
introducing his apprentice, Carmelo.
A long day of R&R. Now, back to work.
Day Five - Monday: "What are
we? work horses?" - Katy Rasco.
The morning started out a little slower and quieter than usual.
After a long day before we were exhausted. As we sat down for our
usual ham, cheese, and Fred-bread breakfast, someone pointed out after
minutes of silence, "I guess Mondays are the same in Chile."
She was right. After a day off it was a hard transition to get
back in the work mode. Today was a beautiful day, though.
The sun was out, heat rose high, and layers quickly came off as our
work on the ground became laborious. We split into groups when we
arrived, but quickly (for 2 groups) took initiative to help out another
group. Our jobs included moving roof board, moving them to the
2nd floor, moving planchas
from one casa to another,
moving mas planchas to yet
another house. The blessed group who was working with Patricio
were lucky ducks. They hammered boards for the 4th house floor,
while the rest us, aka "work horses" (as Maggie would say) worked like
crazy till lunch. Lunch was good to some, bad to others. We
were served a soup with noodles and frijoles
(beans). Tomatoes were also served, much to Michelle's and
Heather's liking. Lunch was quiet, just as breakfast was, and
most of us were ready to call it a day!
After lunch our group moving planchas
split. Claudia, Michelle, Janet, Maggie, and I (Katy)
miraculously moved 30 planchas
in 15 minutes!! This was made possible by Mama Claudia and her
amazing Spanish-speaking skills. She asked a family if we could
use their pick-up truck. Two sons drove us to house number two to
get the planchas.
Work became a little easier and after work our large group split
up. Part went into town while the other traveled back to the
cabins. The group at the cabins took naps and showered, while the
other group walked around Limache. Robert served us a North
American dinner, which we dedicated to Professor Berger. Our menu
Hamburgers for us American folk. Ten o'clock came quite early and
after looking after our little sick girl, everyone went to bed.
Janet felt better near the end of the night. Par tiempo acostarse! (time for
bed). Tomorrow is another work day.
Day 6 - Tuesday: "A 2-Cigarette
Problem for Fanta" - Michelle Cimaroli
Let's face it - a day that begins with not only 1, but 2 cups of dulce de leche can't be bad.
After sugaring and carbing up, we were ready for work. We split
into 3 groups today. One worked on roof beams, another finished putting
walls up, and another finished putting the floor in. It took the
group working on roof beams a little while to get the hang of it, but
they got the job done. The group putting the walls in, on the
other hand, ran into some problems, caused by the framing done by the
previous group (not that we're blaming anyone...). At one point,
we realized the walls weren't exactly level. So, we consulted
Patricio. After his usual, "oh, man" we called Raul over.
After seeing our problems, he and Patricio proceeded to pull out some
cigarettes to think it over. It turned into a 2-cigarette
problem. Their final decision: let Fernando fix it.
He did. Crisis averted. As for the last group, they were on
their own with the floor. There was one spot that they hoped
Eugenio wouldn't see until the sun moved in the afternoon. Nobody
seemed to notice. Personally, I thought the floor looked
After a lunch of hot dogs with salsa, rice, and orange Jell-O we got
back to work and did some heavy moving and lifting . Patricio and
Raul nearly got run over by a very large and heavy frame and many of us
finally realized that Raul's nickname was Fanta due to his apparently
After a day of work, some of us went into Limache to check our
email. On our way, Maggie informed us that someone had been
pushed down into the street. Upon further inspection, we
witnessed our first crime in Chile. Apparently, some guy tied to
steal a bag from a woman. She proceeded to beat the crap out of
him, with the help of a couple other men who came to her aid.
Luckily, an off-duty cop just happened to be driving by. Needless to
say, the woman was not a happy camper.
We had another great Chilean dinner and some good conversation.
Kate was definitely on top of her game. As for tomorrow, Maggie
has big plans to impersonate her hermano,
Fanta. Let's just pray she doesn't scare the living crap out of
him. Now, I need to try to keep Melinda and Katy from throwing
Janet out of their room and into my bed. Hasta mañana!
Day 7: Wednesday "Ora et
Labora (Prayer and Work)" - Brother Rob Reuter, C.PP.S.
We started today with what has come to be routine: carbo-loading
at breakfast then off to the job site by 9:00. Once there, we
broke up into three teams once again. Each team accomplished a
lot, but we were all afraid that we only had a half day of work today;
our aching muscles needed some down time.
After lunch, we traveled to an elementary school in nearly Lliu-Lliu
for a "cultural experience." Our first activity there was to play
a Spanish word game with the students, and we held our own pretty well
for a group of mostly non-Spanish speakers (ok, we were up against
first- and second-graders, but we still did pretty good!) After
the word game, we taught the students a song, and were soon joined by
the upper grade students (up to the sixth grade). Once the older
students joined us, it was game time! Duck, Duck, Goose seemed to
be the favorite. It all seemed to end so fast and before we knew
it it was time to go. The children were just beautiful, and so
was our experience with them. They all made us gifts so we would
remember our time with them - yeah, like we could ever forget!
After a brief trip into Limache (basically to buy a major load of
wine!) we headed to the Benedictine monastery of San Benito. A
brother, who was the guest master, gave us a brief tour of the
monastery, and he explained that the electricity had gone out just a
few minutes before we arrived. But touring the monastery in the
dark was still an interesting experience.
Then we all become honorary Benedictines for a half hour as we joined
the community for their evening prayers. Though the community is
small (only 5 monks) their chanting the psalms in Gregorian chant was
beautiful. The lack of electricity turned out to be a blessing
because the monks used nothing but candlelight to say their
prayers. Seeing the black-robed monks in chapel, chanting in
melodious Spanish, in only candlelight was a very moving and peaceful
experience. By the end, we realized that during this day, we
fulfilled the famous Benedictine motto of Ora Et Labora, or "prayer and work".
Ending the middle of our trip with the Benedictines was perfect because
it reminded us that there is a deeper purpose, a deeper reality to the
work we do.
Speaking of work and reality, lunch is over and ceiling beams to be put
up. Until tomorrow.
Day 8: "I'm having a Canadian moment"
- Heather Mikus
Cockadoodle! For most cabins this means that it is time to get up
... not for awesome cabin 4, though (this is just a mere
distraction). The real rooster crows @ 10 until 8 after
Amanda's alarm goes off for the 23rd time, but looking back, Amanda
& I would need all the sleep we could get to prepare us for the FULL day of work ahead of
us. The work day started like normal. We arrived @ the work
site & split up into our three groups. One group worked on
putting up the interior walls, another worked putting up the ceiling,
who were told they were doing a very excellent job so that they would
continue doing the work, and Melinda, Katy, Amanda, and I went with
Patricio to start demo-ing the 5th & final casa. When the four of us
arrived @ the last house we came in very confident that we were experts
on demo & floor duty, but we were quickly put into place by the
house from hell.
Our first challenge was dealing with an unexpected visitor ... a dead
cat underneath the roofing. Patricio showed us that there are no
language barriers to communication to us when he found the cat.
Amanda & I became fascinated by the small child climbing a nearby
hill ... on the other side of the cat remains. After the cat was
cleaned up, we moved out all of the insulation (ever careful of mas gato remains). We were
all glad when lunch time arrived & were confident that upon
returning to the cat house the rest of the day would be a piece of
cake.... WRONG AGAIN!
We set a goal before starting the floor that by the end of the day we
would complete the entire floor ... after all, this was our third floor
.. come on, baby we are experts now, right? WRONG! Our goal
slowly decreased from the whole floor to A board. Lovely Senorita Julia's ceiling beams were
so crooked that it took us the rest of the day to complete maybe five
rows of flooring ... and the quality ... let's just say we were having
multiple "Canadian moments " and with of the support we were receiving
from Sra. Julia made it incredibly easy to have even more "Canadian
During our afternoon snack we were looking for Janet or Maggie to
repeat their performances from day one so that we could, as Amanda
says, "add character" (aka ruin Julia's ceiling). Our feet were
just about ready to punch a couple of holes through when the smilie
face cookies arrived... perfect timing! The smilie face cookies
gave us strength to proceed, but it was a very slow, frustrating time
and with all of Julia's support 5:30 sounded great! We cleaned
up, said our goodbyes, and some of us headed to the cabins while others
went into town.
We ate dinner together and had a great conversation with Robert about
Budweiser and Corona. Maggie and Katy almost got kicked out of
the cabins by Robert for drinking Crystal in his presence, but before
we knew it was about that time again. Boy, 9:00 sure does come by
fast. Bedtime. My prayers tonight will include a special
intention that miraculously Julia's ceiling will become level, or maybe
we could have a stronger earthquake than we had today that will just
knock it down so that we can start over mañana ... until then hasta mañana!
Day 9: "Finito!" - Melinda Maile
Well, almost. Today was our last full day of Habitat work in
Chile. Since last Friday, we have laid 3 second story floors, put
3 roofs on, hammered until our wrists hurt and bent countless bags of
nails. We came to Chile knowing we would have work to do, but I
don't think any of us were adequately prepared for 50 degree days,
falling through roofs, or breath-taking picturesque views of the sunset
every night reflecting off La Campana's barren peaks.
After a full week of work, motivation and energy have been replaced
with sore muscles and times of frustration. Since Monday each
group has been doing more-or-less the same tasks, rotating to the next
house when finished with the first. Repetitive yet
time-efficient, we wrap up the work week as apprentices in laying
tongue-and-groove wood flooring, cement boarding both the interior and
exterior of a house, and insulating and nailing above our heads to put
in a ceiling.
The floor crew finished up the 5th and final house realizing just how
important level and straight boards are for any building project.
With everyone's help, the first side wall of the 5th house was also
raised and the remaining walls will be waiting for us tomorrow. All of
the houses we are working on are the same size and same layout, but
each house brought about its own challenges. Porch roofs, opened
yards, small working quarters and varying contributions from the
homeowners kept things interesting.
While there were no people falling through the roofs today nor any
earthquakes, after being here for a week I found myself making more
observations and even questioning how certain things were done. I
wondered how the 5 families, whose houses we are working so hard on,
were chosen over all of the other area families. Aside from the
official paperwork and qualifications to receive a Habitat house, other
homes in the neighborhood looked more "in need" of Habitat's help, and
other people appeared more appreciative and helpful of Habitat's
mission. I have also felt that a lot of our work was not the best
quality that we could be providing for the families. The "floor
crews" of Katy R., Heather, Amanda and myself did not understand the
point of working harder physically to put in floor boards that were
uneven (2 boards we even avoided stepping on, afraid they might break)
and mismatched. But Patricio quickly cleared up our purpose of
putting in uneven boards. He said, "We are here to work with what
they already have and to make the best with what we have. Yes,
the floor boards are very uneven, and this is not good, but the
existing beams of the house are crooked and this is not our
problem. In order to make a perfect floor, the beams would need
to be replaced, and that takes lots of time and lots more money.
And that is money the family does not have and is not willing to
spend. So, we will put in an uneven floor and we will have to
work hard to do this." And with that and a lot of pounding, we
finished the last floor.
Today, I have learned exactly what service is. It is nailing a
ceiling with sore arms when you'd prefer to have another job; it is
carrying more size-10 planchas
(aka cement board) after you have done it for 3 hours already; it is
the use of sign language, facial expressions or a louder voice to break
down language barriers; and it is finishing nailing in a nail after
someone else has given up (thanks, Heather!) Service is also
about trusting other people to make good decisions and about trusting
God when you question or challenge other people's choices. But,
service is not only about expectations for you. Like a continuous
circle, service keeps on "serving" all who are involved.
Therefore, service is also the little girl yelling 'hello' to you as
you're building the floor; it is taking pictures of smiling faces at
the end of a long day of work; it is soccer games in the streets with
no official rules; it is a sunset over the mountains to close a good
day; it is knowing you have a hot meal at lunch (even if you do not
like it) when people in the same area will go hungry; it is smiley-face
cookies for snack; and is is singing karaoke is Santa Aveno Pub with
locals from Limache Chile - which ended this particular day in
Day 10: "The most difficult
part" - Claudia Sadowski - Ocampo
We woke up to a cold and cloudy morning. Señora Cecilia
picked us up today. She said the day was supposed to be a nice
one. Our last day at San Alfonso. It was hard to
leave. I can't believe it! We planned to be here for a long
time and now the end has come.
I found it especially difficult because I realize how much help is
needed around here. You can tell that people were very grateful
to have us helping build their homes.
The owners of the homes as well as the neighbors' association prepared
a going-away celebration for us. I can't believe how difficult
this "good-bye" was. Words cannot describe all the mixed emotions
I had. We are ready to go back home, however, we wanted to stay
and help even more.
When Eugenio (the boss) was getting ready to hand our certificates his
first words were "ahora la par te mas
dificil" ("now the most difficult part") and he was
right. It was the most difficult part for all of us.
While we were working on the houses we experienced physical
exhaustion. Now we were experiencing mixed emotions
spiritually. Everyone said their goodbyes; even as we were
leaving the homeowners who were coming closer to the van had
tears. It was very hard.
Everyone said we had a home in Chile whenever we decide to come back.
Day 11: "100 bent nails and
heartstrings" - Amanda Bartz
After an extra hour of sleep our last full day in Limache began like
usual. We gathered for breakfast and warmed up with tea, coffee,
and our wonderful breakfast of ham, cheese, bread, and jam.
During the meal we discussed last night's dance club experience as well
as the plans for today. Jaime, Sr. arrived around 9:30 a.m. to
pick us up from the cabins for church. When we arrived at church
we realized that it was a different one from the previous week.
This church seemed smaller, more decorated, and warmer. Most of
the group made it through Mass, the exception being the Protestant
hooligans who "escaped" after section 8 of the worship service.
Mass ended and Jaime, Sr. and Cecilia picked us up shortly after.
They took us to Quillota to watch son Pablo's school band play in the
parade. Next we went to the high school and watched the band
perform on the fútbol field, followed by the alumni band which
very similar performance.
Having worked up quite the appetites sitting in the stands, Jamie, Sr.
took us to an Italian restaurant in Limache. The adorable "senior"
waitress fixed up a table (or 3) large enough to seat all of us, and
about ten minutes later, took our beverage order by a show of hands - que chistosas! Upon
delivering the drinks she described the menu choices to Claudia and
then handed her the notepad and pen before walking away. So
again, by a mockingly show of hands, Claudia took our orders for
dinner. We all thought she had done a superb job until the cook
came out and "crossed her sevens" - oh my! Our waitress
returned carrying a tray of rolls. So our hungry bodies forgave
her for her lack of order-taking.
Dinner arrived in only a little time and - wow! It was
phenomenal, receiving even Maggie's seal of approval. After
trying to stuff in as much of the lunch as possible without exceeding
our stomach's limitations, we paid our bill and moved on to the next
portion of the day.
The mountains have been calling our names since we arrived in Chile
and, nearly 2 weeks later, we were on our way to explore them.
Jaime, Sr. took us up the mountain via the bumpiest road in Chile until
we arrived at La Campana National Park. Once inside the gates we
stood around a large map trying to decide which trails would be best to
try to accomplish before dark. Having minimal Spanish skills and
similar lack of map-reading skills, Janet called to the other two
alumna, Heather and Amanda and they decided to work their way up the
mountain without following any of the colored or dotted lines that we
had just studied.
Now when hiking, the three girls learned that there are at least six
rules to remember when hiking up or down a mountain:
1. Choose your group wisely - all who hike with you need to be
either fearless or as retarded as you are to venture off trails
2. If exploring a mountain that is either inhabited or visited by
animals you must avoid stepping in piles of poo - this is grounds for
dismissal from the group.
3. When climbing up, down, or across a waterfall be sure that
your bodyguard can swim.
4. Do not taste all cacti because you believe them to be an aloe
vera plant from which tequila is made. The things you put in your
mouth will taste bad and may cause a rash to develop.
5. (part 1) When inviting yourself into a bear's cave, shout "hello" in
the bear's native language - in Chile this is "hola" (part 2) Should a
bear actually be in the cave, be sure that you can outrun at least one
member of your group.
6. Do not grab onto any sticks or twigs unless you are certain
that they can support your weight and are attached to something besides
After this group of phenomenal explorers had completed this list, there
was no time left to continue off-trailing as it was time to meet at the
van. After all of the groups had returned from their various
expeditions, Jaime, Sr. took us into town. Half of the group went
to the cafe and others checked their emails or went shopping.
Around 7:00 when everyone had re-gathered at the cafe, Jaime, Sr. and
Cecilia took us back to Estacion Limache. Just before our arrival
at the cabins, Frederick accidentally disassembled one of the curtain
rods. He took Heather's advice and put it under the seat - we
can't take those kids anywhere.
When we arrived back at the cabins we all did our own things; many of
us packed in order to be ready for our early morning departure.
Before dinner we met Robert and Laura's two children, Tomas and
Zoe. They are very shy around us but they are both very adorable
kids. Dinner was a large serving of goolash and bowtie noodles.
While we were resting our stomachs for dessert Fred asked us to say a
few words about our expectations, the trip, and a moment that had
tugged on our heartstrings. Many of us learned about a country
that, before arriving, knew nothing about. Most of us learned how
to define service on a personal level. All of us had moments that
tugged on our heartstrings. Melinda vocalized what a few of us
were thinking, that many times we had felt that a nail gun would be so
efficient in many ways but that the best lessons in life aren't taught
through quick solutions, technology, and nail guns. Some of us
reflected on previous trips to North Carolina where our friend John
Gooding taught us countless lessons about construction, service, and
life. This past Thanksgiving he emphasized that you can't hit a
nail and, when it bends, just pull it out and start over. You
can't restart life when it throws a rough bend your way. You go
at that nail from a different angle and straighten it out. Then
it will be just as strong when holding the pieces together. Here
in Chile, many of us spent a week bending 1,000 nails, with this theory
in mind, so that every fifth nail would help to create a home for the
amazing people who we met this week. Chile, the families, maestros, culture, food, and bent
nails will forever be wrapped up in all of our heartstrings.