Referred to as the “Cincinatti Teacher’s Group”, a hodge-podge of mostly University of Cincinnati alumni, met up for a week in El Salvador filled with both hard work and fun. Joining them was a team from Vineville Baptist Church, ranging in age from 14-76. Each group brought different experiences, strengths, and talents that made for a fun-filled week for all.
After a time of worship and fellowship at Union Church, the teams headed out to do some sightseeing at Bocarón volcano for the afternoon. They enjoyed a delicious lunch with an incredible view of the city before heading up to hike the volcano itself. The day was a wonderful opportunity to bond for each of the teams, who took the chance to both strengthen old relationships and to form new ones.
The week was filled with a sense of fellowship and service as the two groups worked side by side on each of the tasks at hand. We started out with the difficult tasks of clearing, weeding, tamping, and leveling the floors inside of the duplex. This procedure was one that required the participation of every team member, as the constant shoveling of old dirt out and bringing new dirt in can easily turn into a monotonous process. We greatly appreciated the way in which both teams brightened the work site with their positive attitudes and willingness to serve.
In an effort to combat some of the exhaustion that set in for the last group, we decided to take Wednesday off to relax. The epic U.S.-Algeria game was a perfect beginning to the day and put everyone in good spirits. After heading over to a local artisan market to pick up some traditional crafts and souvenirs, we continued the day with a hike up to Puerto del Diablo, a popular site for Salvadorans to go with their families.
We ended the day with a sight that had special meaning, the University of Central America Oscar Romero exhibit. Oscar Romero was the Archbishop of El Salvador who was assassinated during mass, an act that in many ways is attributed to sparking the twelve-year civil war. The museum tour was an emotional experience for many, and brought a reflective mindset over the group as they began to gain a little more insight into El Salvador’s history.
Once our spirits were renewed by a day of fun, it was back to the worksite. In the next few days, concrete floors were mixed, shoveled, poured, and leveled for both sides of the newest duplex. The work of the two groups marks substantial progress towards finishing the first of 10 houses to be a part of the Legacy Build.
The abundance of volunteers this week allowed us not only to make progress on construction of the homes, but to work on a less glamorous part of the process: the septic tanks. This process involved digging a total of eight holes and setting them up with new dirt and rocks before the tanks could be placed in the ground. Once the tanks were in, measured, adjusted, and covered, we were able to sit back and admire a job well done.
During the week, the volunteers took the opportunity to engage the children of the community in games, songs and photo shoots. The company of the kids brought both entertainment and a nice break from the work throughout the day. It was heartwarming to see the kids of the community once again welcome in the volunteers with hugs and questions and their unquenchable desire to play more soccer.
The groups made sure that the week was filled with work, play, laughter, relaxation and love. We ended the week with a visit to our “finished” community in Soyapango where we painted a wall in preparation for a mural. The kids of the community were anxious to help out and we had a great time collaborating with the community and groups on one final project. Both groups had a great time and many members hope to return in the future. We look forward to that time and are thankful for their servant’s hearts throughout the week.