Building the Missionary Training Center
Shannon Hawk, Support Staff
We were told it might be wet and muddy, but nothing that a pair of boots couldn’t handle. Or not, I thought, as I surveyed the flooded building site. I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, helping start construction on the 2015 Men With Vision annual project—to build a training center for Latin American missionaries. Classes were going to start in three months. The center had been given land to build on in a remote area of the river delta just outside of Buenos Aires, and it was accessible only by boat.
In January I met Don Moon (WGM missionary); his brother John; John’s wife, Jan; and their friend Tim in Argentina. Tito, the director of the training center, was also going to work with us all week. John had a lot of construction experience, so I felt good about our small team. That was before I saw where we would be working.
The first day of work did not start well. The long plane ride had caused considerable back pain for John. He was unable to stand or walk for more than a few moments, so we had no choice but to begin the project without him. After a 45-minute car ride, we arrived at the river where a small boat picked us up, two at a time. Tidal flooding is common in that area, but none of us, not even the locals, were prepared for the eight-foot increase.
Guillermo and Manuel, two missionaries in training, waded up to greet us. They had been living on site for the last few weeks in a small shack on stilts along the river. From the dock, it was a long walk through knee-deep, muddy water to the work site. Every step was a challenge. Whatever plan or other preconceived idea of progress I had quickly disappeared along with the idea of working in dry clothes. The building was being constructed on a raised platform and the floor frame was already finished—a tremendous feat in itself, working in these conditions.
At the end of the first day, as I was trudging back through the water to the dock, I felt very frustrated. We had accomplished very little; we were a man down; and we had only four more days to put up walls; build trusses; and train Tito, Guillermo, and Manuel so they could continue framing the next building, all while working in the middle of a swamp an hour and a half away from the nearest supply store.
That night as I laid in my bed telling God why this project was doomed for failure and that no one in their right mind would consider building anything on this particular piece of ground, it sank in. This was not my project nor was it Don’s, Tito’s, or even WGM’s. We could have prepared for six months and still not been ready for all the challenges we were facing. This was God’s project. It wasn’t up to me whether this project was going to succeed; that was up to God. My job was to be obedient and do the very best I could with the circumstances we were given. By the grace of God, we framed the walls, built and set the trusses, and put all the metal on the roof before we left.
ACT: MWV has committed to raise $40,000 and send volunteer labor to build the training center. Learn how you can partner with this project at www.wgm.org/multiply.