Currently, we have the aquaponics all set up but I have a few kinks to work out with drainage and a few leaks. Working up there has been a ton of fun, and everyone has been so helpful except John who wasn’t here yet, so it’s a little hard to blame him for it. We have dug for 2 hours and realized that idea wouldn’t work, and set it to run and realized there were more problems, but God is teaching us and He is the one who will give the increase. I hope to plant the cucumber and tomato seedlings this weekend to grow until we can transplant them. Everyone worked up there, and we put our handprints in the cement Josh is pouring out, and the initials of everyone else who has helped on this project. Please pray that God helps sustains the school through this project, but if it is not His will then His will be done. The mud up there was awful, which just made it more fun.
Josh put in all 18 holes for our aquaponics fence in one school day. He worked in the rain and mud with some help from John and two of my students who finished their goals so they could work with him (they almost never finish). The holes are mostly 2 feet deep, 5 were 3 feet deep.
Josh and John spent half of a school day using machetes to cut the posts for the fence so they were level. Again, they worked in the rain and mud with some country music blaring our of John's speaker.
We waited for a week for a series of dry days to fill the holes with the posts in them, because it never came we bought cement and then waited another week for one dry day to dry the cement after we put it in. We had to scoop out the water and mud from around the posts with cups and bottles. Then we mixed cement and poured it all in the holes to hold the posts in place. We had the perfect amount of cement for the job. God is just good, in big ways and small ways, He makes sure we don't forget, and I am glad He helps me notice the small ways He works.
We had an awesome time mixing and putting the cement in as a family. God blessed us with an extra dry day to dry the cement. Then I put selecto and mud on top to finish it off.
Josh, John, and I were able to finally nail the chain link on and lock the fence, so now we can actually work without our progress being disrupted by animals or thieves. Which is so great. There was a lot of waiting involved, along with a lot of rain, but it is now done and we can move forward. I love our aquaponics fence.
There was so much waiting, but God lets it all work out just how He plans.
Over the first week we were here we worked on the school daily in order to prepare for the beginning of the school year. We wound up painting, removing cables from the ground, moving and storing desks, unpacking and organizing paces, putting up posters, and setting up classrooms. Here are some pictures of everyone working, mainly the Global Year students who all did an awesome job working under the pressure of having to prepare for 40 extra students late.
I kept writing Hydroponics and I was wrong. Hydroponics is a system for just plants, Aquaculture is a system for just fish, our Aquaponics system combines both. We finally finished cleaning rocks!!
Then we watched more videos and realized we needed more rocks.
So we have been cleaning more rocks.
Dalton and I also put plastic from the galeras we tore down under the entire system, then we put 3 inches of gravel across all of the plastic to keep the grass from growing up under and around the system. We also have to dig deeper on the subpit to put a box in that will protect our tank and allow us to take it out whenever we need to clean it, which occurs each time we take out all of the rainwater with a bucket and then wait for it to dry while it rains, then repeat that process and take out the mud that caves in with the rain. We will have to build the box within the next few days.
We have been taking apart the galeras to make space for the new school we plan to have built over the summer. We have to keep the pieces intact to give back to Cepudo, a local non-profit organization, because they gave it to us. They want it back, but we have to take it apart which is alright because they are funding some of our new projects. The work involves a ton of unscrewing rusted screws on jimmy-rigged ladders set on piles of cinder-blocks and pulling poles out of the ground with anywhere from 1/2-3 bags of cement on each of the 36 poles. It's tedious. The hondurans who owned the third galera took out all of their equipment and cut back all of the growth inside so we didn't have to burn it all in fear of snakes.
In addition to having spring cleaning in December, Mike and I spread selecto in our front yard, leveled it off and pressed it down, spread gravle in front of our carport and on the side our house and put together a pathway to connect the backs of both houses and a pathway to the trashpit, which we moved and made larger. It was a very fun day working together and it feels good to have something finished and accomplished.
The first well we drilled in Brisa Del Norte turned out to not be deep enough so we are drilling a second one. It is crazy how much water it takes to drill a well to provide water. We are aiming for 150-160 feet for this new well, and we are 70 feet down. There is not much work other than setting up the draining holes and canals, starting the machine with water, and then running the machine but it will make a world of difference for this community.
"Right There" is relative. We finally got the pile of 3/4 River Rock to put in the tanks after we clean them. By hand. It is not a hard process but it is insanely time consuming and tedious. After borrowing all of the materials we need we place a screen over a tub, place rocks on the screen, scrub them while one person pours water, then we dump them into a wheel barrel where we pull out all of the small sticks that could clog the system, to the best of our ability. Then we dump the stones into one of the eight tanks we disconnected, carried to the water tower, and cleaned, which involved disconnecting the pipes we had glued together a few days before and taking the underground tank out of the mudpit with Carlos. We also painted all of the pipes that were not already painted blue, then after the rain washed all of that off, we painted them again. We have 5 tanks filled with stone, and it is a very sensitive system so we push forward in faith as we mess with the leveling and pray that it all works out to sustain the school. 1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your work is not in vain in the Lord." It's not in vain, God is going to use this, if not for the school, because of the process I've learned so many new skills, so much more Spanish, and I got to grow closer to Carlos, a man completely and totally sold out to God.
It has also been an absolute mud pit from all the rain, and the cows didn't want to help, just watch us work.
We spread selecto in the school yard to fill in the mudpits made by people driving through. We also put up a little barricade to stop people from driving through so the kids are safer but they just knock it down whenever they want to drive through so we are going to have to put more rocks and put posts in the ground to keep them out. The selecto required leveling a pile of sand that had hardened, spreading the selecto, leveling it to the best of our ability, and pressing it down with the van. Abelino did the rest of the school yard while we were in class, he worked until it was done, he's an ox.
We only have to set up the Hydroponics with the materials which are essentially a truckload of 3/4 river-rock gravel and a bunch of Tilapia. Pray that it works and that we work diligently and patiently to get a good crop. We have connected pipes, moved tanks, bought parts, and found pieces people in the community generously kept warm for us. It's definitely fun and beneficial to work and fellowship with Carlos, but it's nice to get to be back in the classroom steadily with our class. The pictures show Carlos while he's working, which is his default setting, and everything mostly set up, we put a few pieces together afterwards.
The donors came yesterday, they agreed to build a pavilion and new school building! They loved CCA, as they should. Bob said we ought to be proud of how good it all looks, and we are. Since last Tuesday we have steadily worked on the Hydroponics which wound up needing 3 rectangular trenches dug 2 feet deep with islands in the middle, you can see the pictures below. Once we got the trenches dug, we put in a foot of cement (I have the formula memorized by now dos carretas de arena, dos de gravine, y una bolsa, siguen dos arena, dos gravine, una bolsa, cuatro bolsas eran necesarios por un sangrejo. Is that all spelled correctly? I'm not sure but it's close, a week with Carlos and you know the name of every tool, every material, and every job, you learn Bible stories in Spanish, you learn how to actually dig efficiently. I've learned more Spanish, Construction, and Digging in the past week than I've ever learned before. We "worked" with the 5th-8th grade students last Thursday and Friday for 5 hours each day. It was babysitting with tools. Carlos dice que trabajamos mas rapido sin los ninos, and he's right. For those of you who don't know what that means and are too lazy to use a dictionary or even google translate like I am, it means we work faster without the kids. Carlos and I spoke in Spanish the entire time even though he knows a little English, so it's comfortable now, I switch without knowing it sometimes and confuse myself. We didn't get it all done but we "put on a show" for the donors and have continued to work, hopefully we can finish within the next 2 days. We cleaned out all of the weeds in both Galeras, Alex is a middle schooler and can use a machete faster than I could use a weed-wacker, the boy is insane. We stacked wood, scrubbed walls, filled mud holes, filled ditches, organized piles of materials, and many other things, whatever needed to be done. I enjoyed teaching the boys how to dig.