There has been a hive of activity at the workshop in the past few weeks and it has been really encouraging to see some great progress on the building. The bigger challenge is supporting the vulnerable guys coming to work with us and the ongoing need for more workers or volunteers to join with us on a permanent basis but we plough on nevertheless.
It was a blessing that two friends from the church did the electrics at the workshop. When the team from the council came to connect us to the mains supply, they were impressed by the workmanship. Here’s a link to a video of the lights being switched on at night. It’s so bright now that work can carry on beyond sundown if needed, which is 6pm here all year round. It also means evening activities can soon begin, including English classes if we can find a fluent speaker who can wing it slightly as a teacher (!).
The builders have plastered the workshop and fitted the bathroom. The council came to connect the water supply and all is operational for the shower, toilet and sink. Interestingly, the water meter was not fitted, which is required here for paying the water bill. When Daniel asked about it, he was told another team would come and fit it later. However, it’s common for them never to come back and people essentially have their running water for free (illegally). Daniel has requested it again and we have it on record, but it just goes to show that even when you try and live by the rules here, the corruption and general lack of accountability and professionalism makes it difficult to keep yourself right.
We’d had a makeshift fence at the workshop until last week but now have a shiny new gate.
Daniel sought advice about how to go about making the entrance gate. It’s helpful to note that security concerns call for houses and business to be as secure as possible. You don’t see white picket fences here and a garden path to the front door, but rather high walls, gates and shutters. In some areas it’s still safe enough to open up the house and sit out on the pavement in the evenings but sadly these days, many people wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that. Where there will be valuable tools and machinery, we need to be all the more cautious at the workshop.
Daniel took a reliable friend, Iranilson, with him to buy the materials for the gate and within a couple of days’ work, the gate was welded and in position, with the help of fellow welder from the church, Pedro. All quite impressive, I felt! And great to be able to say to folk that it has all been done by hand and that we can take commissions for our trainees to learn to do this type of thing.
In another blog, I mentioned a new friend, Adailton, who is keen to help and partner with us where possible. As he works in a similar line of work, there are opportunities and mutual benefits available. Adailton has just been working on a spiral staircase for a client but was struggling for space in his back garden to finish it. Instituto Engrenar can allow him to use our workshop to finish the job and he will then make the staircase for our workshop. Great result all round!
We continue to have great fellowship and support from the Primeira Igreja. Daniel and Pedro, who is the church’s sound technician, have worked together on several jobs, like the gate. They, along with some other happy helpers, just finished the extension to the church’s shelter to make a larger covered area over the church’s front courtyard.
Jean, from the recovery house, had helped with this job and had been doing well with us but, sadly, he decided to leave the house. He turned up at the workshop a few days later of his own accord. To cut a long story short, we took him in and gave him another chance but unfortunately, he is not quite ready for the opportunity with us. We will keep him in prayer and maybe he will return some day.
Nevertheless, Pastor Nahur was delighted with his new sheltered area, especially as he was keen for it to be done before the Missionary Conference which starts on the 19th July. We look forward to this conferencd to hear reports and share with missionaries from across Brazil and beyond. Daniel is also looking forward to a football tournament this Saturday which is raising funds to cover the cost of the conference.
We’ve taken a short break from leading small group while adjusting to life as a foursome but we were able to help serve when it was our group’s turn to provide the refreshments after the church service. The group which is on canteen duty also covers the car park stewarding. Antonio made a suitable helper.
It is still holiday time here in São Luis for many, which is why we’ve been able to have Pedro and Iranilson helping but we continue to need full-time people more permanently. We keep persevering and trust that more helpers will emerge as we continue sorting the formal registration of the project and as more jobs appear for the men to be working on with Daniel. As we progress in these areas, we believe there will be greater awareness and understanding of the project. For now, it’s exciting times to see things moving along well. There’s certainly no shortage of learning opportunities for those willing!