Saturday, July 7, 2012

At the lager

I’ve been attending a Baptist church here because there are no congregations of my own denomination. Last Sunday the pastor complained that he was having trouble contacting the congregation and offered us the opportunity to join an improved contact list. I filled in the form they offered and Presto!, I got a text message on my phone a few days later. It turns out that they recently purchased land on which to build a “lager,” or camp, and they wanted men from the congregation to come for a work day. They caught me at an opportune moment, because I’d just been thinking that I wanted to be more generous about charitable activities.

The kids will arrive in one week, and we had plenty to do. Collectively we brought electricity to a former barn and put a huge new roof in front of it so the kids would have a place to congregate outdoors in rainy weather. We also installed a sidewalk and patio, took down a fence and mowed a field. Among other things, I helped to hang a door in the kitchen building so the cook would have a bedroom close to the work area, and then I worked on filling in the wiring trench and schlepping water for the crew making the concrete for the sidewalk. I had a little trouble getting started because everybody was reluctant to assign tasks to me, but when I paid a little attention I noticed plenty of ways to fit in.

They’ve dug a swimming hole. I think they have plans to build a regular pool in the next few days, but I’m not really sure about it. Right now it’s filling in with groundwater and collecting rain, but the water is brown from silt and I didn’t get in even though I needed a rinse. I got my rinse anyway: The pastor poured well water over most of us to cool us off, and even added a blessing when he baptized me.

I really enjoyed being in the company of a bunch of very kind men working on a project for people we may not even know. I hear that such behavior is less common in Belarus than in America, so I count it a special privilege.

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