Saipan – Day 15

Sunday, September 18, 2016

After breakfast, we attended the 10:30 church service at Church 360. The pastor, who is also a pilot that flies airplanes from Saipan to Guam, gave a sermon called Magnificent Obsessions based on Ephesians 1: 3-15. His message was that God is ” obsessed ” with mankind, otherwise he would not have created us. He willingly gave us freedom of choice even though he knew that many of us would reject, mock and even hate Him, just like some children do to their parents. The main point to his message was ‘ What is the focus of your life ‘. That will determine who we are.

Afterwards we went to Shirley’s Coffee house for lunch and then headed back to camp.

At 4 pm we were invited by the CARE group for a BBQ of ribs, beef, chicken and vegetables.
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Saipan – Day 14

Saturday, September 16, 2016

It was our day off, so we decided to go to Managaha Island which is a small islet which lies off the west coast of Saipan.
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“It is the burial ground of the famous Carolinian Chief Aghurubw, who is said to have established the first Carolinian settlement in Saipan in 1815. A statue of the chief commemorates his achievements in leading his people from Satawal after a devastating typhoon to Saipan”. We happened to be there on the weekend of their 46th annual celebration of this event.

The ferry ride to the island was free because of the weekend celebration and we arrived on the island at 11 am.
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The celebrations started with a church service in the morning.
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This was followed by presentations and traditional native dances. Complimentary food was available for the celebration and it included, rice, fish, chicken, roast pig and ham.

It is a very small uninhabited island but there is a shop and a restaurant on it. There are several activities available on the island, such as swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing and boat rides.

Micah and Blake went parasailing and snorkeling and I took advantage of my time on the island to go snorkeling. There were all sorts of unique looking fish among the coral and I was able to capture some of them with my camera, however, some of the other, more unusual fish didn’t want their pictures taken.
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We took the ferry from the island back to the Saipan mainland at 3 pm and drove to Ben’s house.

Ben had invited us to come to his house for 4 pm, where he and his wife, Linda, treated us with a wonderful meal. After the meal, they surprised us, by giving each of us two Saipan T-shirts in order to thank us for the work we had done on their house. It was a very humbling experience.
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If you look closely at the picture, you will see that Ben is not a very large man, but he told us that he used to weigh 296 pounds and he had lost most of his weight by watching what he ate. He told us that he used to eat rice with every meal and he hasn’t had rice for 3 years.

We were all quite tired from our day’s adventure when we got back to the campsite, so we finished our day with a light snack and some lively conversation.

Saipan – Day 13

Friday, September 16, 2016

After a hearty breakfast we went to our the regular jobsites and continued the work we had started the day before. At 7 am, Ed picked me up and brought me to Ron’s house to help finish the installation of the roof at Ron’s house. I helped Pete, Daniel and John David finish the installation of the rafters.
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When the rafters and purlins were installed, we installed the galvanized aluminum roof and the hurricane straps.
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We were finished the roof by 2 pm, packed up our equipment and took a break until Ed could pick up the trailer and bring it to the next house. Ed reviewed the work that needed to be done at the next house when we arrived there, however, we couldn’t start the work because the material hadn’t arrived so we went to help the other crew pack up before we went home.

When we arrived there, Micah’s crew had made excellent progress with the installation of the walls and rafters.
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It had become extremely hot and several of us had varying amounts of sunburn, so we decided to head back to the campsite.

After we had showered and a good meal, we spent time reviewing the events of the day and trading stories of our days events. With the early mornings, combined with the heat and humidity, most of us ( particularly the elderly volunteers, such as myself ) are usually ready to fall asleep by 9 pm.

One of the things that we have had to get used to, is the geckos. There is at least one in the house and they make a loud chirping noise. We haven’t attempted to get rid of them because they are not harmful and they take care of any small animals, such as insects.

I have finally gotten the video of Mary’s Birthday celebration at Bubba Gumps from the night before so, as promised, here it is:
https://1drv.ms/v/s!Anh-wX1eFJ-8nn95I2gVidVEl76t
Since it is a video, it is quite large ( 13 MB, even though I reduced the size ) so it wll take a lot of internet bandwidth and it might not play smoothly if you don’t have a fast internet connection. You can also ” download ” it you want a copy of it.

Saipan – Day 12

Thursday, September 15, 2016.

Our morning started out as usual and we were at our jobsites by 7 am. Everything was wet from all of the rain we had received the night before.

Pete’s crew continued the concrete work at Ron’s house.
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Our crew went to the house we had checked out the day before and while we waited for the material to rebuild the roof, walls, doors and windows, to be delivered, we started to remove the remnants of the old roof above the back two rooms.
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It started to rain quite heavily by 8 am, so both crews stopped for about an hour, while we waited for the rain to end.

When the rain finally stopped, both crews continued the work on the houses. Pete’s crew made good headway and they were able to complete concrete work and install all of the rafters.
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Our crew finished ripping off all of the termite-infested wood, poured a small concrete footing for the two front walls, framed the walls and installed the wooden plates on top of the concrete walls.
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We worked until almost 4 pm and then headed back to camp because it was a special day and we wanted to celebrate. It was Mary’s birthday and we wanted to take her out for supper so that she didn’t have to cook. I’m sure everyone joins me in wishing Mary a happy birthday.

We went to Bubba Gumps and had a nice meal. The staff surprised Mary by singing a special happy birthday song for her. Daniel recorded a video of it. Its not available, yet, for me to post but as soon as I have been able to copy it to a drive on the internet, I will let you know and I will post a link to it.

After supper we went to the local street market and several of the volunteers bought some souvenirs there. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what everyone bought. The can show you when they get back home.

Saipan – Day 11

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When we headed out to our job sites in the morning, it was warm and dry.

Pete had rented another car on Tuesday night to make it more convenient for a second group to go to a different house, so he drove Daniel and John David to Ron’s house so the three of them could continue laying block.

I worked with Micah, Don, Blake & Jay to finish the soffits and the ridge caps on the roof of the house we had worked on the day before. We were finished by 9 am, so we started packing up our tools to go to the next job site. Just as we finished and were ready to leave the job site, the sky turned very dark and we experienced severe thundershowers, so we contacted Pete and we decided to get something to eat until it finished raining.

We stopped at an IHOP, where we had some coffee and some of us had something to eat. I ordered a banana & Nutella crepe with whipped cream and hazelnut topping. It was very good. When we finished, it was still raining a little, but we went back to Ron’s house and worked on re-enforcing the scaffolding before deciding that it would not be able to accomplish much in the rain, so we headed back to camp.

On the way back we checked out the next house that we will be working on. The block walls on the house are mostly intact but the roof and a few side walls, windows and doors are all missing. There will be a lot of work required to make this house liveable again. We met the owner and she was happy to see us even though we weren’t going to start on her house until tomorrow.

When we got back to camp, we cleaned and organized the tools on the truck before taking our showers. Before our evening, meal, Pete, Ed and Mary went to pick up some more groceries.

After another delicious meal, a couple of FEMA representatives came to talk to us and the “World Renew ” group, about filling out some forms and to answer questions about the work being done on the island. They gave us some history about the islands and explained the diversity of people that live here. The population consists mostly of people from Philippian decent, however there are many other cultures represented on the island. Catholicism is the main religion, which resulted from the Spanish influence many years ago, although there are several other religious organizations, such as the Mormons, here, as well. They also pointed out that there is a labour force of approximately 800 people on the island and the building of a local casino requires 1000 people so that, even if the local residents could get FEMA money to help rebuild their homes, they can’t afford the labor rates, which are exceptionally high. That is why they are using organizations such as MDS to help rebuild the houses.

It was unfortunate that it rained all day, off and on. Hopefully it will be drier tomorrow so that we can get some work done, however, there are several storms at sea that appear to making there way in our direction, so there is more rain in the forecast.

Saipan – Day 10

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

After a hearty breakfast, we drove to the same jobsites that we were on the previous day. It was a little cooler and a little less humid at 6:30 in the morning but it didn’t take long before it was hot and humid again.

Daniel, Pete and John David were at Ron’s house again, where they continued to lay blocks. Ron took a picture of Daniel while he was laying blocks.
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Micah, Blake, Don, Jay and myself were back at the house where we had started the day before.

Micah and Don continued building the soffit until it rained and then they joined Blake, Jay and myself inside, where we were installing the paneling in the ceiling.

In the following picture, Blake was preparing the support for installing the paneling in the ceiling.
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I took a picture of Micah and Jay as they were cutting the paneling to fit on the ceiling. The paneling was so flimsy that it could be cut with a utility knife. The 4×8 sheets were about as thick as linoleum but as flexible as wallpaper, so you can imagine how difficult it was to nail it to the ceiling.
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It wasn’t until lunch time that it started to rain and when it did, it came down in a torrential downpour. The water streamed down the roof and small streams of water could be seen everywhere. Ron, the owner of the house where Daniel, Pete and John David were working told them, just before it started to rain, that it would last for at least 3 hours. He was right! Until now we hadn’t seen any significant rain since we arrived in Saipan and this time it was excessive.

We finished the inside work by 2 pm and since there was no more inside work for us, we went to the other site to pick up Pete, Daniel and John David before we headed back to the campsite.

When we got back to the campsite, it continued to rain, off and on and then shortly before supper the power went off for 15 minutes.

Mary had made an excellent meal again. It contained all of the ingredients for making tacos without the shells. For dessert she had made some cookies that we had with ice cream. Although she had made some fresh cinnamon buns we weren’t allowed to eat them because they were for our breakfast.

Jay and I had signed up to do the dishes so we cleaned them before joining the others who were relaxing after the meal. Some of us engaged each other in conversations, read books or magazines or checked things on the internet until we got too tired to stay awake any longer.

Saipan – Day 9

Monday, September 12, 2016

We have been having issues with the water supply to our complex for the past week and Red Cross had been working to fix the problem. On Sunday evening we were informed that there was no running water available, so we prepared for the night with some buckets of water from the holding tanks. In the morning, there was still no water so we had to do what we could with the lack of water before we went out to the jobsite. It wasn’t until later in the day that we found out that someone had turned off a valve on Sunday night when they were doing some repairs on the lines around the pump and they had forgotten to open the valve back up. That was the most welcome news we had all day.

The temperature was around 30 C ( 86 F ) and it was overcast most of the day with the occasional light showers.

We have worked in several areas of the island. We are staying in a facility that is in the northern end of the island just south of Wing Beach and north of a golf course. The first house we worked on was near the airport in the south of the island. The second house was near the middle of the island, to the east of the American Memorial Park. Today we split up.
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As usual, we left the campsite shortly after 6 am. Pete, Daniel and John David went to do some masonry work on a house in the Kagman area, which is located along the central east coast. They added blocks to the outside walls of the house and build forms to make concrete lintels.
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Micah, Don, Blake, Jay and myself went to the second house we had worked on to finish the roof. We spent most of the day, adding the finishing touches to the roof, door frames, adding window frames, as well as installing panels and on the underside of the roof. I took pictures of the work but the sun had come out and there was a lot of glare in them.
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We finished at 2 pm and then we went to work on another house in the Kagman area. We started removing damaged paneling in the ceiling of the house before it was time to pack up and head back to camp.

As always, Mary made a wonderful supper that included homemade bread and the meal was topped off by a peanut butter and custard cream pie. I thought I would lose weight with all of the hot and humid weather but, instead, I might have to pay extra on my trip back home because I’ll be overweight, not my bags, just me!