Journal from House Building Part 2 – Building the Houses

Friday July 24, 2015

Woke up around 6am because I couldn’t fall asleep the night before (I drank some coffee).  Went out to finish the grid lines for our house while Zach worked on the house down below.  We (Jeremy and I) finished the lines, set post markers in the ground, and started digging.

Putting up the grid lines

Putting up the grid lines

We mostly finished the digging of the first house, but rain came around 12pm.

We went back, ate lunch (rice, noodles, and green veggies).

We rested while it rained outside…and then the rain kept falling.  We went back out at 4pm and started all the holes for Zach’s house and got mostly done.  Went back around 6:30, washed, went back to the room, ate (noodles, taro, potatoes…and green veggies), and I was out about 8:30pm.

Digging the holes for concrete

Digging the holes for concrete

Saturday July 25, 2015

Started heading out at about 6:30am.  We got everything out to mix concrete.  We started mixing and it started out a little rough. 

Mixing Concrete!

Mixing Concrete!

Towards noon, we started running out of stone.  We rested from 12 to 1:30pm because we were so tired.  Went back out, mixed more concrete, set posts, and soon we ran out of sand as well.  We ended up using all the stones for both houses to complete just one! 

The stone and rock piles for concrete

The stone and rock piles for concrete

But we set all the post anchors in the cement and finished all the cement for the posts.  No rain came this day.

Putting a post anchor in the concrete

Putting a post anchor in the concrete

Sunday July 26

After doing concrete the day before, we decided to take the whole day off and rest.  This was a much needed and enjoyed rest.  Spent the entire morning reading the Word. 

We ate lunch (noodles, rice, veggies).

We all hiked in the afternoon to where there was cell phone reception to call the wives and check in with them.  It was about a 30 minute hike to where there was cell phone reception, but hey, praise God it exists at all!

Calling the wives (it's raining)

Calling the wives (it’s raining)

Monday July 27

One of the post anchors

One of the post anchors

We woke up early and started removing the post place holders after letting everything sit for a day.  Got the laser level out and started standing up posts and marking off the tops.  Every post was within 2-4 inches of where we cut!  We had to extend the last post. 

Posts set

Posts set

After measuring all the posts, we cut and started standing them up.  Because this was Kwila wood, we drilled every hole first, then drilled the screw in.  43 posts in the house, and we had to drill 8 to 10 or so holes for each base.  By post 8 or so we had broken about 8 drill bits…with about 14 left and like 70 posts to set, plus girders! 

We had a quick meeting and decided to have the girls send some bits on a dinghy to us.  The Maweroro people said they had some people who worked as a bus crew(people who work on the dinghys, like a boat crew), so they could pick it up. 

This was the plan, but one of us had to go make the call…which was a hike to the network area. 

I volunteered because it was Onesimus’ 5th birthday, so I could wish him a happy birthday, and everyone graciously agreed to send me. I left with drill bit sizes. 

Hiking to make a phone call and looking back at Mawarero

Hiking to make a phone call and looking back at Mawaroro

It was a 45 minute hike up the mountain to get to the network area this time.  Called Cameron, gave her the info of what to get, and said Happy Birthday to Onesimus.  Hiked back and worked on posts.  We decided to work at night and we finished all posts by around 9:30pm. 

Came back to Egi’s house, where we were staying, and Stephan volunteered to hike out and go to Madang, since our wives knew him.  We thought it was a good idea.  So now the cost of getting drill bits was sending one man on an 8 hour hike out to the beach, then a 3 hour boat ride to Madang to get the bits, then another 3 hour boat ride back to Biliau, followed by another 8 hour hike back in. 

He was going to leave the next day and come back Thursday. 

Total cost to get more drill bits: 3 days, 100 kina for boat rides, 16 hours of hiking, 6 hours of boat rides, plus the cost of drill bits.

Tuesday July 28

Slept in.  Started at 7.  Started work on finishing girders (some we had started on Monday).  

Getting ready to attach girders to posts

Getting ready to attach girders to posts

Attaching girder to post

Jeremy attaching girder to post

I made the hike again around 11am to the network area to tell the ladies that Stephan was coming and to also to give him rice, noodles, 1 can of sprite, 1 gallon of gasoline, my new shoes, (since mine were breaking- again, and Cameron’s mom had brought some new shoes for me).  After making the phone calls, I hiked down, and made it back in time for lunch. 

Lunch was rice, noodles, and greens. 

After lunch Zach and I kept working on girders.  We pretty much did girders the rest of the day, while Jeremy cut wood for girders and trusses and worked on trusses and cross braces.

Jeremy cutting wood

Jeremy cutting wood

Wednesday July 29, 2015

I woke up around 5:45am and read about the parable of the sower.  Made it out around 6:45am and started getting all the tools ready.  Zach and I started with the final two rows of girders. 

Putting the trusses on the girders

Putting the trusses on the girders

We started around 7 am and finished around 10:30am.  By the time we were done, I broke 2 hammer bits, and we only had a few (like 6 or so) left, so I decided to revoke my hammer bit privileges.  After the girders, Jeremy was cutting wood for the trusses, and I started working on the cross braces. 




Miscellaneous tools

When the wood was bowed, we would all sit down on top to hold it down while someone else would attach it to the girder

When the wood was bowed, we would all sit down on top to hold it down while someone else would attach it to the girder

Cross braces!

Cross braces!

Some point in the afternoon the trusses were done and we started working on the floor.  I finished the cross braces around 4pm and helped cut wood for the t&g flooring. 

Working on the floor!

Working on the floor!

We had problems with the generator all day. 

Jeremy diagnosed it being — something I didn’t understand.  Either way, we went from using 1 gallon of fuel for all the work on Tuesday to a gallon for 2 hours of work on Wednesday without the tools to fix it.  With only 7 gallons left, we all met and decided to stop doing the flooring for the house at the top to moving all the efforts to the next house, so we started wrapping everything up around 6pm.  We also realized after doing about 6 rows of of T&G that we were going to need a lot more nails to finish. 

With the completion of the first house, we went home and celebrated by opening a pack of beef jerky and Oreos and peanut butter…it was amazing!

Spare wood made into kids toys

Spare wood made into kids’ toys

Thursday July 30

Got out a little later around 7am.  We started on the concrete for the second house, though we knew that there wouldn’t be enough stones and sand to finish. 

We worked until 11:40am and finished all but 14 post holes!  Yes, this went much faster. 

But we also ran out of stone. 

We headed back to the hut, ate some rice, noodles and green veggies. 

Started back up again around 2pm with enough stone and rocks to finish a few more holes.  Worked till around 3 or 4pm, and ran out of rocks. Jeremy and I started picking them up from around the village with about 4 holes left. 

Gathering stones

Gathering stones

Around 5pm, we finished the last hole of cement!  Praise God! 

Finishing the last hole of cement for the second house

Finishing the last hole of cement for the second house

Stephan also came back with all the supplies from the girls.  One of the things that I got was a spice rack with salt, pepper, garlic salt, Lawry’s seasoning….oh it made the rice, noodles and green veggies that night…pretty good. 

We also got all the drill bits from the girls and the new shoes (thanks Jeremy and Denise!), along with more rice and noodles, and some garlic and onions!  We all went to bed pretty sore and tired from mixing concrete all day.

Friday July 31

We slept in and took the morning off to give the concrete a little more time to sit.  Headed out around 9:30am and started pulling everything out.  Measured the posts and made sure everything was good and then went to cut the posts. 

Posts...ready to be set up

Posts…ready to be set up. You can see the other house in the background.

Jeremy cut the posts and Zach and I started work on standing them up and attaching them to the post anchors.  We worked till about 2pm.

Then we ate a late lunch of rice, noodles and green veggies…with some spices. 

After lunch, we went back out and cut girders and put up the rest of the posts until 6:30pm and had dinner.  We went back out and stood up the rest of the posts and finished attaching all of them around 8:45pm!  It went pretty fast.  We used the new drill bits that the girls had bought, and not one of them broke!  They also worked much better at drilling which made the work even faster! 

As we finished things up in the afternoon, someone said the cell phone network was working again, so we called our wives who were all staying at the Lehman’s house because the power was out in Madang.

Saturday August 1

We woke up and made it out the door around 6:45am.  When we got to the work site, we saw the product of our work the past few days–all the posts standing up. This was a great sight!  

Zach and I started on the girders while Jeremy cut the trusses and remaining girders.  The new drill bits were still running great.  By lunch time, much of the trusses were cut, with about 3 rows of girders left and 2 rows of trusses finished. 

We had conversations over lunch about finishing today, and leaving the next day and surprising our wives…but that wasn’t going to happen. 

Went back to work around 1 or 2pm. 

Posts stood up , ad girders all set

Posts stood up , and girders all set


(from left): Zach, me, and Jeremy

By mid afternoon, we all were feeling exhausted and were realizing we wouldn’t be leaving until Tuesday.  By the end of the day, we finished all the girders and all the trusses.  We had cross beams and touch-up for Monday, along with safely storing the remaining timber and supplies, and organizing with the leaders for our return. 

Sunday August 2

Woke up, and read until 10am.  We had core questions (kind of like a mini small group meeting with just the three of us) and saw a recurring theme of answered prayer. Then we met and discussed lots of plans.  We talked about the house building team coming out and what we needed to do. 

After we had our meeting, we went to the work sites to pick spots for the water tanks for each house and measure some timber we had to cut on Monday. 

Also, found one timber piece that was slightly eaten through by bugs that we would replace the next time we came. 

Met with the leaders and told them when we would be coming back, and what it would look like.  Started the night with dinner and coffee. 

For lunch and dinner this day we had rice, noodles, green veggies and — chicken.

Ok, I don’t know if it was chicken, but it was meat.  And it was good! 

Jeremy and I also opened up a can of mumued pork (basically spam) to eat with dinner, which was wonderful…at least the first 4 bites were wonderful. 

The night ended with fog and I talked to Cameron on the phone.

Monday August 3 – Last day of Work

We woke up and got out around 7am to unload all the tools and started measuring some of the 2 x 4’s for the cross braces.  Jeremy cut several and then Zach and I started putting them on.  We would attach the 2 x 4 with clamps, drill a large hole through the 2 x 4 and the post, and then hammer a large bolt into the 2 x 4.  This went much faster than we were expecting, and as lunch drew near we were almost done with all cross braces. 

us again

Attaching cross braces

Jeremy cut a lot of remaining timber during this time. 

The second house with posts, girders and trusses all in place

The second house with posts, girders and trusses all in place


(from left): Zach, me, Jeremy

We finished all the cross braces and then we went and measured a spot for the two water tanks, and the spot for waste, and marked them out. 

We were finished after this and went back and ate lunch. 

We ate rice, noodles, and green veggies.

It was kind of crazy to be done with everything.  After so much preparation, so much planning, so much prayer.  We didn’t get everything done we wanted to get done, but we still got so much done!  We hung out the rest of the afternoon and I looked through the house plans for the next stage and asked Jeremy a bunch of questions.  The next day we were planning on hiking 10 hours followed by a 3 hour dinghy ride the following day.  Got everything ready and packed that night.

Tuesday August 4

hiking home

hiking to the beach

Left Maweroro around 6:30am with 4 other guys carrying our bags. 

We made it to the beach around 4pm. 

When we got there we heard someone had come from Biliau to the SIL center in Madang asking for 5000 kina in regards to the “helicopter disturbance”.  We talked to our Maweroro friends, one leader from the village came with us, and they said they would work it out.  We’re still praying it will be worked out by the time we come back for Stage 2 of house building. 

Then we met with Selmai(our contact in Biliau) who was holding 4 empty jet fuel drums that we had used with the helicopter to make sure it was okay that he kept them, but we actually ended up bringing them back with us to Madang.  Then met with Dale(who we didn’t know) who had 4 full drums and had to work out a small payment (30kg rice and tin fish) for him to keep them on his property for 3 more weeks.  The situation in Biliau seemed stable, but not sure how it was all going to work out.

Wednesday August 5

Left Biliau around 7am and made it home around 9:30am.  Had steak tacos for lunch, followed by a homemade cinnamon roll…so good to be home.  We’re taking 3 days off, and then preparing for the next stage of house building!


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