Out dear nephew, cousin, and friend, Jesse Snodgrass came in with the Bluffton Team. Following the teams departure, Tim and Jesse were able to work on a few little projects here and there. One was thought to be a six hour walk in and was most dreaded. We didn’t have the funds to do and and wasn’t sure how to accomplish it. Jesse was able to raise funds in his home church enough to pay for the roof. So, Tim, Jesse, Paul Rudenberg and one of his boys, and a Haitian boss crew headed out the Monday after the team left. Below is an excerpt from one of the men on the team…
The small, isolated church community of Minet had clearly learned patience and perseverance: construction of the church foundation and walls had begun over five years ago. They had to make cement blocks at the bottom of the mountain, near the ravine where water and sand were available. The walls were completed and waiting on the list for more than two years. This job wasn’t for just any team – the workers and all supplies had to be walked in through a rocky ravine and up the steep mountain. So Tim was willing to only take six of his most seasoned workers, plus his hardworking nephew Jesse, whose church in Iowa City had provided the funds for his roof, and with some convincing, Dr. Paul and his son Natou, who had done some mountain backpacking and helped with a couple previous roofs.
We had begun the day at the painfully early hour of 2:30 AM, but by driving a new route north of the Cavaillon river had arrived at our hike starting point of “Glum” an hour and a half early. We started up the trail that followed a rocky ravine at 4:30 AM – in complete darkness. The pace of those in front (Tim and worker Verel, I think), carried out by headlamp light, was, since they desired to get an early start, a furious one for a few of us in the rear. We carried only our personal belongings, water, and a few tools. Since we had expected a difficult and steep hike of six hours, arriving at pastor and Mrs. Zertolan Pierre’s home in Minet in under 3 hours was a very pleasant surprise.
The church foundation and walls were just over the hill a hundred yards from the pastor’s home. From this work site we could see many beautiful hills and mountains, and even Les Cayes far to the south, and so the area struck as quite a scenic one. Tim felt it was one of the hardest hikes to a roof- building site.
Hot coffee and bread were soon to follow our arrival to the building site. Tim kept us moving – we started assembling and nailing gussets on the 15 trusses at 7 am. Our goal new was to complete the entire roof and benches that very same day, and thus get home a day early, so there was no time to be wasted.
The building materials had fortunately been sent on a couple weeks ahead, and then carried up the mountain, mainly on the heads of church members and friends. This was clearly a community event. I was impressed with the way things had been planned ahead by Tim and Scott and their team, down to the exact number of pieces of tin and nails that would be needed, leaving little to be carried back down the mountain. The construction department crew had skillfully assembled the wooden parts of each truss into bundles nailed together for transport. One deacon from the Minet church shared that he had made 6 trips carrying wood up steep “Mount Bisket”
Tim, Jesse, and Natou, and Tim’s Haitian crew of carpenters: Verel, Ephesien, Elord, and Ezekiel worked nonstop until the job was complete that evening, pausing only for the delicious meals created by the many women working over the fire all day at Mme Pastor’s house. Carpenters Miguel and Ti Louis assembled and then painted the beautiful pine benches.
An ever-growing group of local volunteers and onlookers of all ages joined us during the day, such that by afternoon we had to keep the several dozen children out of range of swinging hammers and trusses. We had good volunteers. The district superintendent, Rev. Enoch Jean, and the pastor of the Dory church, just up the valley from Glum, Rev. Nicophene Simon, joined us from the start and helped us throughout the day. Dely Jerome, a trained carpenter who wielded his hammer well throughout the day, had grown up in Minet had come back up the mountain for the occasion as well. Another two local volunteers formed a team and nailed gussets onto trusses until all were finished.
It was great to see Tim in action, leading the team through the work. The 15 trusses were put together in no time, and by mid afternoon each was carried and swung up into place. Tim skillfully guided this process, and took riskiest post at the top of the trusses, where he nailed each to the previous one. I thought I might get to see him swing down on a runaway truss, but none escaped. The team then placed and nailed the perlins, running the length of the building, leveled the frame and tied down each truss to the walls. Finally in the mid afternoon, following a filling meal of rice, beans, plantains, and sweet potatoes (everyone on the site shared the meal), the team placed and nailed the forty six twelve- and four foot “tin” sheets.
In the evening the local members and visitors joined in a service of thanksgiving to God. We sat on newly built and slightly sticky benches under the beautiful new tin roof. The local and district pastor each reminded us of how important and occasion this was. They shared sincere gratitude to the team, the Construction Department, and the generous church in Iowa City. They repeated their thankfulness in a variety of ways, seeing the completion of the church as miraculous, something that would change the image of the community and Christ’s body there.
Needless to say, we all went to bed soon after dark, but not before each of us was provided with warm water heated over the fire in order to bathe, and yet another meal. Though the sleeping quarters in two homes were tight, nothing could keep us from the well-earned rest. After what seemed like two breakfasts, we were off down the mountain by nine, and to the truck before noon. We had the help of two mules to carry not only our tools, but the plaintains, yams, sweet potatoes, sugar cane and grapefruits that were shared with us, mainly from the pastors garden.