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Wednesday, April 8, 2015


This is the road just outside of our house in the dry season
I'd say that we had lived here in Ecuador for six months before I learned what the word 'polvo' means. Our summer months here can get pretty dry. So, when all of the dirt roads turned from packed, hard dirt to light, dusty powder, I learned the meaning of 'polvo.'


I can't tell you how many times that word has come out of my mouth over the past three months-- and especially during the last two weeks. Our house is currently under construction. It's a very old house, which means that the walls are made of adobe. Adobe is basically dirt. And our house has been filled with it.

Let me step back. God has blessed us with an incredible house to rent here in Calacalí. We love the house, we love how close it is to El Refugio, we love that there's a yard and that several of our Ecuadorian neighbors are El Refugio workers. The only downside to the house is that it only has two bedrooms-- one for us and one for kids. We do plan to have more kids, and it's nice to have space to host family and guests. From very early on we've said that if there were just one or two more bedrooms, we'd love to spend all of years here in Ecuador living in this house. That's how much we love the place.

So we thought we'd bring up the idea to our landlords. To our surprise, they were completely up for making an addition (with two bedrooms!) and were happy to front the money themselves to make it happen. When they found out we'd be in the States from October to December, they decided that would be the ideal time to do the work. They thought three months would be more than enough time.

We just entered month 7 of construction.

The back of our house, where the addition is being built
They're building up, so the nice thing was that they just used ladders and scaffolding to get up there to work. So although we've been living in a construction zone since January, they haven't had to walk through our house to do the work until last week. Last Monday they started busting down the wall to connect the two floors-- and thus began the dust.

So, we relocated our family to a cabin at El Refugio for the week leading up to Easter. But I (Jim) spent the work hours each day at home-- to keep an eye on our things, answer questions, make calls when things were needed, and attempt to keep the place as clean as possible.

We put up a big sheet of plastic in the hallway where the main demo was taking place, hoping to minimize the amount of mess/dust. 

It probably would've been worse had we not hung the plastic. But I vacuumed about a quarter inch of dirt off of the carpet in our bedroom (which we had cleared out, anticipating how bad it would be) after that first day. Every day when they went home I would sweep, vacuum, and dust to try and keep on top of the mess. And each new day, within the first hour, the layer of dust would be back.

In some ways it was quite appropriate that we were displaced during the week leading up to Easter. The workers didn't work on Friday, as Good Friday is a holiday here, so that was our first day back at home. I couldn't help but think of why Christ went to the cross for us. We are sinners. We are filthy. Though at times we think we can contain our sin and keep the 'dust' in a small, sealed space, we can't. It's just like the dusty dirt in our house that we have tried to contain and not allow to seep into every room in our house. But it does. Even when we got a big panel of plastic and duck-taped it on all sides, somehow the dust still has seeped into every inch and corner of the house.

But Christ has made a way for us to be clean. Try as we may to be perfect, we will fail. There is only one who is sinless, perfect, and clean. And He made it possible for us to be wiped clean-- forgiven. 

We're still (at least) a few weeks out from being able to move into the new section of our house. The wood floors upstairs need to be sanded (more dust...), the electrician needs to put in all of the light switches, outlets, and lights, and the floors need to be finished. The end is in sight-- but there's still dust ahead. 

I was reminded of 2 Corinthians chapter 4 as I've been reflecting on all of this. Verses 17 and 18 say:

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

The great thing is that when the construction is over we'll enjoy this wonderful house even more than before. We'll have additional space for our kids (and kids to come!) to play, for guests and family to relax and be comfortable, and to continue hosting those we build relationships with here in Ecuador. It has been a pain, but we look beyond the dust and hammering, knowing there's a purpose. We will have trying times in this life. But Christ has overcome the world. He has cleaned the dust away. He has made us clean. And there is an eternal reward waiting for us. For what is unseen is eternal. Even though at times it's hard to see past the dust.

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