When it rains in Barranquilla, it can easily cause flooding. The 20th of July Covenant church happens to lie right in one of the flood planes. If it’s a hard rain, it can flood with up to several feet of water. It’s been this way since the church and the adjoining house were built some 15 or 20 years ago. Now they want to build a wall to stop the flooding. But a wall that can stop several feet of rushing water is not easy to build. Pastor Anderson Ortega has led the charge with help mostly from youth and women from the church. The work they’ve done is pretty impressive. Below is the crew of workers and the crowd which gathered every day to watch.
The land where the wall was to be built was behind the Church and full of trees–Big ones. The first step was to clear a path where the wall would go.
They also needed a trench for the foundation, with extra deep holes at the corners. Digging is not easy work.
The trench gave them the depth to anchor the wall, but it needed a solid foundation. They decided to use huge rocks, but couldn’t afford to buy them. So they found some a long ways away and carried them to the work site. And if any wouldn’t fit, they broke them down with sledge hammers.
Most North Americans don’t put enough emphasis on the importance of a good lunch. Colombians do a better job here, and it pays dividends. And at least in this case, literally. The church didn’t have the budget to buy building materials, so everyone working on the wall did something. They each brought a vegetable. Together they made soup, ate lunch, and sold the left overs, earning enough to buy the next day’s materials so they could keep working.
In order to mix mortar, cement, or concrete, you need sand. Since sand wasn’t in the budget and since Barranquilla is known as La Arenosa (the Sandy City), they went looking for it. They found a good spot for free sand over a kilometer from the church in a dry riverbed (the same river that would cause the flooding) so they went and dug it up, wheeling it all back to the church in the scorching heat.
Finally, they were ready to start on the wall. But some of the supplies they needed were more than selling soup could cover. Thanks to a gift from our Mission and from some Norwegian missionaries who spent years working with the churches here, they were able to purchase part of the supplies they needed and start on the wall.
The 20th of July Church, along with Pastor Anderson and all of the youth of the church, have worked hard to make the wall a reality. A few years back they were looking to relocate the church but nothing came about. So, they just decided to build a wall and stay where God has placed them. And, in the meantime, have increased their testimony in the neighborhood
(Pictures courtesy of Elizabeth Pacheco, story collaborated with Sam Posladek)
Gary and Mary Lou Sander – Colombia