The 2008 SOW Safari group, under the direction of Mrs. Sari Butler, composed of 27 students and 11 adults returned about 3:30 pm on December 1, after having achieved the mission of building a church for the Quirao community in Chile. Actually there were 13 adults that left on the trip but only 11 returned since Mr. And Mrs. Steve Nash went to Argentina to visit their daughter, Shelli, who was studying at the Adventist University there that school year.
On the Seventh-day Adventist campus of the community, there was a 35 year old school building, along with another old church structure as well as other buildings. The families in that local were diligently attempting to upgrade their facilities and in so doing they had constructed a brand new school building to which they were already adding another addition even as we were working on the new church project site. The campus was located over one-quarter of a mile from the Community Service building. It was at the community service building that all of the meals for the group were prepared and eaten. The distance involved in walking back and forth three times a day to eat was not nearly as stressful as the 200 foot drop into the deep gorge and the climb back out of the valley separating the two sites.
Except for Mrs. Butler, the other five adult women on the trip were busy preparing food for the group three times each day. Preparation of the food was a major undertaking in light of the fact that all of the meals had to be prepared on a propane gas range and oven using a small refrigerator in a kitchen area that approximated the shape of a square about 16' X 16'. That area had no storage space, no counter space, no running water, and had only two windows, and one door. In that small area, the ladies prepared foccia bread, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, fresh fruit salad, vegetable salad, a variety of pasta dishes, rice and beans, along with deserts such as pie, cake and lemon bars. For several of the breakfasts the group were served potatoes and eggs. Because it was spring time there in the southern hemisphere, there was plenty of fresh fruit such as pineapples, cherries, apricots, blueberries, nectarines, clementines, strawberries, peaches and oranges. All of the fruit was purchased by the crate which covered the floor along with jugs of water which had to be carried to the site for the food preparation. For the Thanksgiving meal the group was served mashed potatoes, cooked green beans, stuffing, tossed salad, cranberry orange jello, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie. Every meal was very colorful and absolutely delicious and students ran for the serving table when asked if they wanted seconds.
Dr. Debbie Habenicht was in charge of the meals and had to travel a minimum of 20 miles at least three or four times in search of ingredients necessary for the food preparation. On one occasion after the purchase of eggs from a supermarket, they fell on the floor of the bus and had to be cleaned up egg by egg before traveling further. The group were extremely grateful for all of the effort given on preservation of their energy and wanted to thank them profusely for the very important role that each played in the mission experience. Prior to returning home, the crew made sandwiches which were carried on the bus as the group toured Santiago and had the multiple plane rides prior to their arrival on the Andrews Academy campus.
In the construction of the church, each of the 6" X 6" X 12" red brick had to be laid very carefully with major emphasis placed on the distance between each brick as well as other factors such as how level they were and how in line they were with other brick that were already in place. There were a number of students and adults who learned the precision of laying brick under the leadership of Jim Oliver who was the master mason on the job. Besides laying the brick, there were tasks such as jointing the brick, cleaning the brick, cutting the brick, and immersing the brick in water to make them wet in preparation for laying them under the hot sun. Most of the group were thankful that this was not a 410 year task as had been the case for the Children of Israel when they were in captivity under the Egyptians prior to their departure to the wilderness and the land flowing with milk and honey.
After laying the brick and pouring a 12" layer of concrete on the top of 14 levels of brick, the tin roofing had to be positioned. While the roofing was not nearly as time consuming as the masonry, it proved to be the most dangerous as Matthew Nash suffered a cut in one of his fingers that needed the services of Dr. Larry Habenicht in stitching it up on the job site. Because of the leadership given to Matt as the student foreman on the site, after medical attention, he returned to his location on top of the roof without any complaining or fanfare as the roofing continued to be positioned. The group were so thankful for each of the three doctors as they each attended to various need presented on the trip. The doctors were also responsible for giving some minor treatment and advice to the locals as they conducted some brief medical clinics after the meetings on two or three separate occasions.
Vacation Bible School was conducted on a daily basis under the direction of Mrs. Butler. That experience occurred each school day in the early morning with the students of the local Seventh-day Adventist school shortly after their school had begun. While some of the students were at the job site laying, cleaning and striking brick, others were leading out with Vacation Bible School activities at the old church. The local school children were very eager to learn and participate in the program in spite of the communication difficulties. Much appreciation goes to Paola Caceres for the interpretation given during these events. During these experiences, long lasting relationships were built. The results of these relationships may never be fully understood until we meet together in Heaven. Another outreach activity conducted was the English school that was offered to the students in the afternoon. After concluding the English school, often the local children could be found saying “hello” to other workers on the job site. It seemed that each member of the SOW Safari team had to sign their name multiple times to a sheet of paper that each of the local school children were bringing to the job site. Those local school children were most anxious to learn and to relate to the entire visiting group. It looks like they had a blessed mission trip.