Last Hurrah at Dongi Dongi
Today we headed out to Dongi Dongi for the third and final time; this time with Neville and Major Erik Kape onboard. Before we left Palu we stopped by the Mecure Hotel to catch up with Commissioner Ros Poke who was finishing up her trip around Indonesia. Commissioners Vic and Ros Poke were on staff at the Training College with Vic being our Training Principal when Nyoman and I were Cadets training to be Salvation Army Officers back in 1995-96. It is amazing where God has led us each over the past twenty years and how our paths have crossed on this mission trip.
Like previous team members earlier in the trip, Neville was keen to get involved with rebuilding Dongi Dongi School. Majors Paulus and Felma weren't home when we arrived, so we didn't waste any time heading up the hill to see the progress of the builders over the past week and to plan out our work for the next couple of days. Once again we were amazed at how much work had been done! The front verandah had been concreted, the brickwork was complete, internal walls had begun to be rendered, and the timber cladding was almost finished. The builders weren't onsite, so once Nyoman and Eric left to return to Palu, Neville and I got started cleaning up the building site, emptying the classrooms of building waste and sweeping out a mountain of wood shavings and concrete dust. The cloud of dust combined with our sweat made for one very dirty afternoon of work. There was also a load of timber delivered on the side of the track out front, so we decided to haul it into the classroom that stored the remaining building materials. Maybe we were just tired, but this load of timber was way heavier than a previous load that other team members had moved. In fact, it had been cut thicker and was still very wet (that's our excuse, LOL).
The Corps Officers returned home late afternoon to find our belongings hidden out the back of their quarters, so Major Paulus came up to give us a hand to finish off our afternoon of work. As with previous team members, Neville and I were warmly welcomed into their home and blessed by their hospitality. We engaged in conversation after tea with Major Paulus, without Nyoman present to interpet, and had a lot of fun teaching each other new words and phrases in our respective languages. Despite the language barrier we managed to communicate well enough to enjoy each others company and discover new things about each others culture.
The next morning before we got back to work, I took Neville across to the old classrooms to see for himself the conditions in which the children were learning. On our way out Nyoman had just arrived back from Palu and joined us for another day of hard work. The job for the day was to level out the ground out the front of the verandah by 'cutting and filling' with dirt from the land beside the building. A couple of local labourers started digging a hole for the septic tank for the toilets so we joined forces as we relocated the soil they dug out of their hole. The speed these guys worked was impressive.
After our lunch break we were amazed to see that they had dug their 3x3 metre hole to a depth of 1.5 metres and had built a lean-to shelter in the process to give themselves some shade while they worked! Not to be outdone, Neville, Nyoman and I worked equally as hard to finish off our levelling, which required more and more fill as the gradient increased along the length of the verandah. It was a very tiring but satisfying day of work.
Leaving the building site for the last time was a little emotional after three weeks of working on this project. Neville and I really connected with how Tony, Jill and Stav must have felt as they left Dongi Dongi knowing it would be the last time they saw the project before completion. Yet, that feeling of sadness was mixed with a deep sense of satisfaction with the knowledge that together we had contributed to the rebuilding of Dongi Dongi School. Our belief in the Corps Officer's vision for the school, our collective fundraising over the past twelve months and our presence on this mission trip is a significant investment into a community, a church and a generation of children who will be educated in these new buildings! Praise the Lord!!