Construction projects. Am I the only one that gets the biggest kick out of them? This last Christmas break my sister and I were able to build console tables with our dad. I was definitely a lot of work, but there is something so satisfying about taking a pile of lumber, cutting it to size, nailing it together, and watching it take shape right before your eyes. That and the memories mean so much more when you really invest yourself.
Well Friday we had just that experience. After a rather interesting conversation at breakfast we got in to Beth's truck and made our way to San Juanico. Part of Beth letting us use the car the day before included us promising to help build her friend Armi's house. It would be good for us to try it anyways so that we knew what we'd be getting the volunteers into.
The area was really neat, and quite unlike anything I had ever seen in the Philippines before. It seemed as if it had been nothing more than a field before the typhoon, but it was now it was home to a brand new subdivision for those who had been displaced by the typhoon. I'd seen a lot of houses going in here and there, but never so many in an area that didn't have them already.
We did everything from cutting and placing 2x2's for the walls to putting in the floor up on the second level. By the time we were finished that evening the walls were framed and two of them were even finished. We bent more nails and had more slivers than I can count, but I laughed harder that day than I have while watching Chinese pranks on YouTube. Maybe we were beginning to suffer delirium from heat stroke but it really was so much fun!
After that Beth and Armi took us to see the San Juanico bridge. Let me tell you one thing I love about Beth. If there is a picture moment she will pull the car right over and make us all take pictures. On the bridge, after the bridge, or at the Samar sign. She had us stopped at them all, and heaven knows I almost laughed so hard I cried at each and every one of them :)
Our next stop was a municipality called Basey. Beth had just started doing micro loans for some of the people here in the Philippines and one of them happened to be over in Basey. While Beth was working things out there Arturo and I made some new friends. Right next to their homes was a section of concrete littered with tents and rubble. Something about that area spoke loud and clear to both Arturo and I. We knew at that point that we wanted to set up some projects there.
Just as the sun was setting we saw a Catholic Church up on the hill above us. The side of me that loves to explore kicked in at that moment, so the four of us headed up the stairs to see what was up there. What we weren't expecting to find was a big group of kids and a volleyball. It wasn't long before I had thrown off my backpack and we were all playing volleyball. There was only about 20 minutes of sunlight left, but we loved every second of it.
Next it was mango shakes at a hole in the wall restaurant, naked children running through the streets and a circle of new friends, raw fish and all. Basey was good to us indeed.
By the time we wrapped everything up it was completely dark. One of Beth's least favorite things is driving in the dark. Up until that point we hadn't really had to do it (except to the time we needed get Arturo's antibiotic, but that was right down the street). That hour long drive home was absolutely beautiful! The sky in that part of the Philippines is so unpolluted by light. Stars shine brighter. There were fireflies everywhere. At first there were just one or two here and there. Later on we passed tree after tree after tree full of them. I had never seen anything like it! It was absolutely incredible. Everything about that day was. The house building, the laughter, the sights, the kids.
It wasn't until we got back to the church that my stomach completely sank. My backpack. It was right where I left it. On the grass up by the church. My debit card, credit card, drivers license, Philippine pesos, US dollars, the two phones we had just bought, passports; they were all inside. OUR passports. Not just mine, but Arturo's too. Had it just been mine i wouldn't have worried so much. It would take 6 weeks max to get a new one, and I was already planning on being here long past that. Arturo on the other hand was scheduled to fly out a whole lot earlier than that. I was sick. Absolutely sick.