Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Concrete And Clay

As I mentioned before, I'm supposed to be in Honduras right now but circumstances intervened. Each of my eleven trips has been different but I always come home feeling a difference has been made through the work the Lord has allowed us to do. The biggest difference, however, is always in the attitudes of our group as we return to our lives of opulence. This entry, from July 27, 2006, is about one of my favorite journeys to Honduras.

They never made it big but they had my favorite name ever for a rock group: The Unit Four Plus Two. A pop combo from England, they started as Unit Four but required a different moniker with the addition of more musicians. Like many groups from that era, they achieved success with only one record. Theirs was the smash hit Concrete And Clay, one song I'd love to sing along with on the Houston oldies' station, but they never play it. Since you are unlikely to hear it if you live in the nation's fourth largest city, I can at least provide a few lines from the chorus of this British invasion classic:The sidewalks in the street,
The concrete and the clay beneath my feet begins to crumble:
But love will never die
And we'll see the mountains tumble, before we say goodbye.
I guess you'll just have to imagine the tune yourself (or watch the youtube video at the bottom!) but it had sort of a bossa nova beat. The lyrics might be a little corny but love was portrayed as a permanent commitment. Concrete represents stability, something solid to stand on. In an unstable world, stability is a precious commodity.

During the past several years, I have become thoroughly acquainted with concrete. On a mission trip to Haiti, I discovered that for much of the world, concrete does not magically stream out of the back of a cement truck and land wherever it is directed. I found that in poor countries, it is mixed on the ground and carried in buckets or wheelbarrows to its desired destination. I also have come to the belief that every adult male in Haiti and Honduras has expertise in making concrete the old fashioned way. Since we do alot of construction work to aid local Christians on our Honduras missions AND since the Lord blessed me with no other discernible construction skills, I spend most of my time preparing concrete for floors, walls, and bridges. Here is the Honduran recipe we followed this summer:
A. Take 2 wheelbarrows of sand, heaped up and sifted.
B. Add one eighty pound bag of Portland cement, dry.
C. Mix with shovels; remix.
D. Hollow out the center of the pile like mashed potatoes.
E. Add water and mix with shovels for several minutes.
F. Add water, sand, or powdered cement to achieve desired texture.
G. Shovel into wheelbarrows or five gallon buckets.
H. Repeat process continuously for hours.
I. When in doubt, mimic the Hondurans.

I love making concrete. At the end of the day, I am filthy, covered with a combination of the various ingredients which comprise my favorite building material. Over the past nine years, I have spent roughly one hundred days in Honduras. Last Tuesday was one of my two or three favorite of the hundred. A group of our Shine Mission team, mostly young and heavily female and with the valuable assistance of several local men, put down a concrete floor in a church building in one day. I have never witnessed such teamwork from such a diverse collection of Christians. Isolated in the wooded hills above San Marcos de Colon, this house of worship occupies the most beautiful location I know of any structure set aside for the praising of God... and now it has a solid floor to rest on. The work was difficult, the rain was soaking, the forty-five minute ride back on a flat bed truck was numbingly cold....and the memories will last a lifetime. And Lord willing, so will the concrete.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Concrete is, essentially, the color of bad weather."
William Hamilton

To watch a music video of Concrete And Clay by The Unit Four Plus Two, click here. (This is primitive by modern standards!)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBVq6bag9z8

Shoutout to our El Rodeo Concrete Crew, July 18, 2006:
Tim McDonald (our fearless leader for the day),Callie, Katie, Casey, Allie, Molly, April, Larry, Casey, Ben, and Macy.

"But as for you, be strong and do not give up for your work will be rewarded."
II Chronicles 15:7
God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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