October 17, 2015

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy . . . . . (John 10:10)

Bramalea 2015 HANDS Team:

After a good night's sleep we were excited to get started. The hotel provided a nice breakfast for us and Mario arrived with the van to take us to the school. We were in high spirits as we started to plan out how we would divide up and immediately start to the tackle the different projects that were waiting for us.  

However, the day would not go this way.  

We stopped to pick up Ruth on the way as she was at the store to get some supplies for our lunch. She had just called Mario as he was picking us up and he understood her to say that there had been a robbery at the store. As a clearly shaken Ruth got into the van, we quickly came to understand that the robbery had been at New Life Christian School.  

As we arrived on site, we saw how the thieves had tried to gain entrance to the school at a couple of different locations before being successful. Once inside, they used hammers and chisels to dislodge the security bars on Ruth's office and pry them open enough to be able to fit inside. Ruth's worst fearswere realized when they confirmed that ten (10) i-Pad tablets had been stolen along with the office laptop computer. The i-Pads were a donation that had been given a couple of years previously and were a great source of joy for the children of the school who otherwise would not have the opportunity to try these devices and use this technology as part of their educational experience 

Our joy quickly evaporated as we surveyed the scene and saw the other damage caused as the thief(s) went from classroom to classroom trying to gain access and breaking through windows and doors to look for anything valuable to take. Now, instead of beginning our work on the projects, we huddled together to begin a different work - a labourof prayer. Clearly, this was more than just a physical break-in. This was a spiritual attack designed to destroy the work that is taking place at New Life Christian School where the children of Orange Walk not only receive an excellent education, but also one rooted in a biblical world-view where the learn that Jesus loves them.  

So we prayed and we prayed and we waited. The Police arrived on scene to take the initial report and then left as the forensics team was called in. Eventually they arrived and took a number of fingerprint samples but until they were finished we could not begin our work. So we waited.  

We were not able to begin our work until after lunch, so our plans for maximize our work time was foiled.  Oso we thought? Our main task was to pour a new floor in the large 2nd floor classroom that we had worked on in 2013. A secondary task was to work on the third floor classroom where the tile floors were lifting and presenting a safety hazard to the students. Ruth told us but in order for the classroom to be useful again,  tile floor would have to be removed and a new concrete floor would have to be installed. Due to our late start we were unable to begin working on the large classroom on the second floor, So we focused our attention on the third floor classroom.  

The first task was to remove and save as many of the ceramic tiles as possible. This involved carefully using a hammer and chisel to remove the tiles from the floor. With careful practice about 60% of the tiles were saved for reuse elsewhere in the school. Surprisingly we were able to complete this task in just a few hours. 

 

Next, we needed to break up the next layer of mortar that was between the tiles and the rough concrete sub-floor. Based on our past experience, we knew how this had to be done (or at least we thought we did!) Using heavy, solid steel scrapers that weigh about 30 lbs. and are about 3" wide, you have to pound on the edge of the mortar until a small piece breaks off, then move over a few inches and pound some more - just like chipping ice off of your driveway. With only two of these scrapers and a few other less efficient lighter scrapers, we estimated it would take 2 solid days of chipping to get all the mortar broken up. Then we would take another day to carry it down two floors, bucket by bucket.  

 

So we began the demolition. Once we had a "hole" in the mortar about 4' square, Noah (pronounced "No-eh") who is a local tradesman working with us took a turn with the heavy scraper. However instead of pounding the mortar, he slide the edge of the scrapper along the floor and when it hit the edge of the mortar (about 1-2" thick") a couple of sections about 1' square broke free from the floor. Eureka – it's amazing what local knowledge can teach you! 

 

So with renewed energy and a vastly improved technique we grabbed ahold of all the scrapers and the floor started to break apart with relative "ease". Others cleared the ever increasing pile of rubble out of the way with shovels to give access to the remaining mortar. Just before 5:00 p.m. when we had planned to stop for the day, Phil, who had been like a human bulldozer with the scraper attacked the last bit of mortar in the corner of the room. A job that should have taken over two days in our estimation was now completed in just a couple of hours. As we looked at the pile of broken mortar in the middle of the room we were reminded of the verses from Ephesians 3:20-21 that say "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory . . . . " Amen! 

 

As we gathered in the evening for our first evening devotion and prayer time we read through Psalm 139:1-18 and sang worship songs of praise to God who knows us, still loves us and in his infinite love, sent His son Jesus to die for our sins. We reflected how again, today like the day previously had not gone as we would have planned it, but in retrospect, we could not have planned a better day - the break-in and robbery not withstanding. While Ruth was initially in shock at the ferocity and violation of the robbery, she quickly recovered and by the afternoon was confident that God was going to do something amazing through this and that all of the i-Pads would be recovered. So we were again challenged by Ruth's faith in God and so we echoed that prayer and we would ask you to do the same.  

 

We also thought about the story in Joshua where the sun stood still in the sky for a day so that Israelites could defeat the Amorites at Gibeon (see Joshua 10: 1-15). While what we experienced was not a miracle on that scale, we knew full well that God had allowed us to accomplish everything that we did in less time than we thought possible. So our day ended in a bittersweet way as both celebrated what God was doing while being saddened by the robbery.  

 

Tomorrow would be Sunday and we looked forward to gathering together with the congregation of New Life Presbyterian Church for a time of worshiping God together hearing the message from their new pastor, Mario Ku.  

 

However, as was becoming the early trend on this mission trip, our plans weren't going to be the ones that we followed. God had a plan and it was way, way better.  

 

Comments:

Karla-Maria
Oct 23, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Although this blog post does bring me great sadness in regards to the robbery at New Life, I'm also overwhelmed at God's faithfulness time and time again. With all the uncertainties that life can throw at us, we can always be sure of one thing: God's thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways. God is good all the time and I'm confident that your team will continue to see that as you serve with our brothers and sisters in Belize.

Jonathan
EduDeo Staff
Oct 23, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Wow. Tough story. I echo Karla-Maria's comment - God is still at work. Will continue to pray for your team!

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