Hope and Healing

God really did create us for relationship

April 02, 2012From the Field, General

Brian Hatchell, cbm Canada
Guest Blogger

Monday, March 26, 2012

The penultimate build day, hard to believe it’s coming to an end.

After taking Sunday off to go to church and relax for a day, it was back to the build site today.

As we walked up the hill to the site it was great to see the new house and roof rising out of the hillside. Sometimes when you are too close to something you have no perspective. It is only when you step back and take a look at what you have or are doing that you realize what you have done. Well, today, because I could see the house from the roadside, it hit me; we have built a home from the ground up. A home that will remain here after we leave. A home that will house a family, house lives, house memories, and stand for years to come. It was a neat feeling. Not that it will change the world or anything profound. It was just neat to see our toil and sweat transformed into a solid, permanent object set against the backdrop of rolling hills in the South African countryside.

Today was perhaps the hardest day on the build site to date. The heat was relentless and the humidity picked up. By lunchtime, most of us were ready to call it quits, and hit the hay. But we still had three hours yet to go. All the walls and the roof are completed and now we’re working on the finishing touches. Lots of little jobs to do, that don’t always involve everyone, just two or three people at a time, while the rest of us either watch and learn or simply clean up the construction site. So the momentum of the build is also petering out. Hard to believe though that today was the penultimate build day and that tomorrow we will hand the keys to the home over to Eric and his children.

When we first arrived on site, Eric was very shy and seldom left the security of his old home. Understandable when you consider he has mobility issues, trouble speaking and struggles intellectually, let alone the fact that he didn’t know any of us. But as the days passed, he would gradually come out of his house to see how we were doing. And whenever he would come out we would all go up to him and ask if he was happy with our work. We would pat him on the back or put our arm around him and he would smile and try to communicate the best he could.

Then, about four days into the build, we noticed that he would come out of the house to greet us as we arrived on site. We would all line up to shake his hand, give him a hug and ask him how he was doing. He would spend almost all day outside near the build site, watching us work, and we would interact with him anyway we could. Many people said it’s going to be tough for to say goodbye tomorrow. I wonder if Eric will feel the same way.

It’s amazing to me that you take a handful of people from a world away, drop them into the middle of the bush in the heart of Africa, place them in the lap of complete strangers and in a week they are as comfortable with each other as old friends. It just to show me that God really did create us for relationship.

No matter where I have travelled in this world, when I have spoken to people I have always come to the same conclusion, regardless of race, creed, colour, religion, or socio-economic status we all want the same things.

We want our children to be able to go to school, we want them to have an opportunity to grow up and achieve their dreams, we want to be able to earn a living to support our family and we want a safe place live. Eric is no different.

He may have suffered a debilitating attack that has left him with severe disabilities. His first wife may have died, and his second wife may have left him. His children may have to live with his sisters for safety, but ultimately he wants the same things I want. And hopefully this new home will begin the journey to achieving some of that.

Tomorrow, when we hand the keys over to Eric, his kids will be able to move back home, they will have a safe and secure house to live in, they will be able to walk to a local school and his eldest daughter may begin the journey to achieving her dream of becoming a lawyer.

His journey and his family’s journey is no different than mine, it’s just taking place half-a-world away, in a different setting.

We are all connected, whether we know it or not. And the more people we meet and get to know, the more connected and complete we become. We really are one body, rediscovering each other and ourselves.