Habitat for the Simanjuntaks

29 05 2011

16 ICS students from Grades 10-12 and 3 chaperones flew out to Singapore on Sunday May 15, and took a ferry across to Batam, Indonesia, for our week-long build with Habitat For Humanity. The work, as expected, was hard, but ultimately very inspiring. The pictures below were all taken by one of the students – Stephanie Widjaja, a very talented artist and photographer.

Working together to build a home for a family

The work during the week consisted of making rebars (twisting wire around metal brackets that hold long metal cables together for the base of the walls of a house), mixing cement with rocks, sand, and water, moving bricks from their storing place to where they can easily be accessed by the bricklayer, digging a hole for the septic tank, laying bricks to support the tank, and breaking the foundation in trenches to make room for the rebars. All of this was done in the scorching sun, and occasional thunderstorm, in the midst of curious villagers and amused and excited/excitable children.

The tedious task of bending iron to enable the rebars

Breaking the foundation to prepare for building

Kimberley digging deeper

Sam Wong, the leader, straightening one of the rebar rods

All of this was done in the midst of green fields and open horizon, and periodically, we would hear the Muslim call to prayer and various worship songs in Arabic via booming loudspeakers as we laboured in the heat that pounded relentlessly on our backs, and caused sun blisters on some and farmers’ tan on others.

During the day, we would take water breaks, but our work would be interrupted when we had lunch. After eating, we would spend the rest of our time joking around, sharing anecdotes, laughing at one of the team over something they’d done during the work, and massaging each other’s sore shoulders.

Sitting and sharing after the delicious local food

I worked on one house that would ultimately be inhabited by the Simanjuntak family, and to have  contributed to something so permanent and challenging is an experience I will be hard-pressed to forget.

The people of the country that we interacted with, and the Habitat For Humanity staff were endlessly friendly and indulgent of our team’s requests and wishes, working alongside us and arranging for wonderful local meals every night, making a very physically taxing week much more enjoyable than it could have been. The country, and the experience, has touched my heart deeply. Working with Habitat on someone’s home was something I had wanted to do for some time, and this week has taught me many life and practical lessons. The week of May 15-21 in Batam, Indonesia will remain in my team’s collective experience for some time, I am sure. There is something about laughing, sweating, eating, and sharing sunscreen together that brings a group closer.

The team at the end of the week, surrounded by the community


Something to believe in

3 05 2011

When I read the prompt for today, to write about something I used to believe in, the thing that came to mind was the no doubt scores of people who would post about the loss of their faith in God, Jesus, or, more likely, the institution of the church. A lump formed in my chest when this thought came to mind, that when the faith is not rooted in truth, it can be washed away with so much tribulation.

News over the past day or so has revolved around events in Pakistan, and I have felt very convoluted about what I’ve been reading, hearing, and seeing. I don’t understand how a people, who have taken it upon themselves to be deemed the world’s police, and the poster child for freedom, could so openly and jubilantly celebrate another death to add to the scores of lives already lost in this current fight.

The question from this comforting blog post by Brian McLaren articulates it for me:

Joyfully celebrating the killing of a killer who joyfully celebrated killing carries an irony that I hope will not be lost on us. Are we learning anything, or simply spinning harder in the cycle of violence?

Premonition Of The Night“The Night” by Max Beckmann 1918-19, Kunstsammlung Düsseldorf, Germany

And thus, although these days are hard, and things happening in and around me are confusing at the best of times, there is light, and understanding.