Missions Trips Chapter 16: To the Work

To read this story from the beginning, click here.

Tuesday, Day 4

This morning started pretty much like yesterday, with me rising at 6:30 to find Pat making coffee. Kawal arose shortly thereafter and served another delicious breakfast, and then he left to run some errands while Pat and I got started on the tile work.

Our task for the day was to tile the floor of two bathrooms and the adjacent hall, but it was not like what we did in the States. The building has a steel frame, and all the walls are make of either concrete or clay bricks that are sealed with cement both inside and out. The windows then are installed with mortar. The men who did the cement work and installed the windows did an excellent job, but they left a mess behind (which is normal here). Chunks of cement lay all over the floor, and dried mortar was splattered on the walls. Pat worked at smoothing out the floor’s surface while I smoothed the walls. We filled a medium-sized box with debris.

Next, we laid out the tiles to determine how many would need cuts. We had brought along a 20″ dry tile cutter, but the tiles we were working with were 24 inches. (I should have asked ahead of time.) Kawal showed us where to find the leftover cut pieces from the sanctuary floor, and we were able to use several of them in the bathrooms. The tile cutter came in handy for straight cuts of 20 inches or less, and Pat made all the other cuts using a grinder. We are not professionals by any means, and have very little experience, so we moved a little slower than a professional crew would have; but we worked carefully, giving our best to the task at hand.

We laid out all the tiles, cutting what we needed to cut, until the entire area was laid out. Then I picked up the tiles, one by one, numbering them on the bottom as I set them aside. While Pat mixed the underlayment, I smoothed the walls a bit more and chipped away a little more excess from the corners and edges of the floors, then swept the floors one more time. Pat spread the underlayment and laid the tiles as I handed them to him and supplied him with spacers. This was the easy part of the job, but we were already hot, sore, and tired. Pat had mixed just enough underlayment to finish the two bathrooms, so we decided that was a good stopping point for the night. The hall would probably take no more than 30 minutes, but better to do it when we’re fresh.

Dinner was leftovers from the huge lunch Kawal had provided for us. We ate in shifts as we took turns in the shower, then we lay down and rested for about a half hour.

The members of Kawal’s church meet on Tuesday night for their mid-week service, and at 6:30 , Kay was the first to arrive. Pat and I enjoyed talking with her, reliving some fond memories from when she and Kawal were with us in the States, and showing her photos of the children, now grown. You see, the Rampersads were living in our home in Virginia when I was expecting Matthew, our firstborn. Kay told me that she remembers the joy she felt when I brought Matthew to church for the first time and I put him in her arms. In fact, Kay and Kawal—honorary grandparents to all our children—got to see and hold Matthew before Pat did, because Pat was deployed when Matthew was born.

Kawal and Kay Rampersad, with Matthew, 1997

Kawal would return to the States every six months after that, to get treatment for his eyes that was not available in Trinidad, and he always stayed at our house. Years later, Kay was able to come with him again, and she witnessed something that thrilled her heart. When they walked in the door, little Mary Beth, our youngest, ran up to Grandpa Kawal and hugged his knees. She called him her “brown” grandpa, to distinguish him from her other grandpa, my dad. She never knew Pat’s dad, as he passed away just two months before she was born.

Well, we’ve gone far enough down Memory Lane, so let’s get back to the service, shall we?

About fifteen people were present, including Pat and me. Kawal opened the service with a congregational hymn, some announcements, and prayer requests. He called upon Andy Baldeosingh to pray, and he also gave Andy the pulpit for a time of Bible study. Andy brought a very good message from Matthew 9:20-22 and also Mark 5:25-34, concerning the woman Jesus healed who had an issue of blood twelve years. He called our attention to Leviticus 15, verses 9 and 25, to shed some light on the nature of her issue and the laws of purification. Finally, he used her situation as an analogy for the issue of blood that we all have. We are all unclean in our sins and guilty of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But that same blood, and that alone, has the power to purify us and resolve all our issues (1 John 1:7).

After the service we mingled a while, and I took pictures of some of the people, including Andy with his wife and daughter. He is going to Bible college via correspondence courses through a school in Texas, and he expects to graduate in May 2020. Kawal is grooming him to take over the ministry there at Calvary Independent Baptist Church.

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