Just this last week we wrapped up painting on our training center. What was supposed to have been a 3 month construction project has turned into about 15 months. We had to get rid of our original contractor and instead have found individual contractors to do small parts of the job.
We had a contractor lined up to paint but then a family in our village church had a financial emergency. The son in the family had taken out a high-interest loan to buy a motorbike and had no way of repaying (predatory loans are VERY common here). The loan-shark had just repossessed the bike and the family was told they had 3 days to repay. The father in the family (he’s in his mid-50’s) came to us and said they were planning to sell their land and move to another village if they couldn’t figure out another plan.
Our local partners were worried because the village they would move to doesn’t have any believers or a church for them to join. The family is all new believers. The mother, son and daughter attend church most Sundays. I’d never seen the father at church before, however we know him pretty well because his farm is right next to ours. He’s a rough older guy who smokes a lot and until a couple months ago drank a lot as well. The first time I met him was preparing for the Christmas party a couple years ago. I was working with a few of the younger guys trying to figure out how to kill an angry cow we were planning to eat. It wasn’t going well and one guy almost got kicked. The old father walks up and tells us to get out of the way. He takes a log from the fire, smacks the cow on the head, it falls over and he walks away. He’s a tough old guy.
As we talked to the father about how they needed money for the bike, he asked who was going to paint the building. We told him we had talked to someone lined up and he said he was a painter and could do it for the same price. I had my doubts, but our local friends said this would be a good opportunity to help his family out of this financial situation. So we decided to hire him on.
It has been two months of very slow painting. The first week he showed up maybe one day. The second week he showed up with a crew of 5 young guys. Turns out he’s scared of heights so he hired his nephew and friends to paint the outside of the building. As you can see from the picture, we had problems with them taking safety seriously. (And as you can’t tell from the picture, we couldn’t get them to quit smoking as they applied wood-stain/paint-thinner). Over the past month the father been slowly but consistently working every day.
After the father started painting, I started to see him at church on Sundays. It was the first time I’d ever seen him there. We also have lunch together on the farm most days and he would join in (because free food). On Monday’s we always have a meeting/devotional with lunch and he would eagerly participate in the Bible study. He has almost no spiritual knowledge and was eager to learn and talk with us. Our local partners are always asking him to pray. He was very shy about it the first few times and still often declines, but our local friends force him to anyway.
We just finished up our contracted painting with him and we’re thankful for the time. There are spots where the paint isn’t even or drips of different colors are now sealed under layers of stain because he wasn’t careful. But I’m happy with the work. The perfectionist in me notices, but I smile because I know what it accomplished.