Igreja Batista Metodista

Bethany Methodist Church is up a hill, a steep block- long hill, enclosed like other property by 8-foot cinder block walls topped with broken glass. An unoccupied parsonage is inside the gate but the minister's family travels from his home by bus. Built more than 50 years ago of stone and tile, it has been added to several times. Uneven stone blocks are the floor and walls are like cinder blocks. Most homes and buildings are enclosed by similar walls and nonexistent grass. But anywhere they are left alone trees and bushes grow in the hard-packed dirt. Doors in the walls are often thick metal, locked, and windows are covered with thick iron grating.

Our main job was to build a retaining wall at the foot of the hill, to make a parking lot which the children could use as a playground. Last year they began preparing for us and a huge mound of dirt was dug in the front yard; the dirt was moved several times to make paved terraces.

Several of our team worked tirelessly with about five church members during our work week.

I struggled up the church hill, slippery when wet, past our workers and theirs, where they dug down 4 feet for footing and reinforcing iron bars. It will be about 12 blocks high when finished, and cement will cover the mud. God blessed us with cooperating weather--little rain and comfortable temperatures. The children and team members played in the dust while we were there.

Others of us painted the peeling walls, and the window gratings outside.

The logo for the Shade and Fresh Water Project was projected on the Sunday School wall and painted over.

Furniture for the children was old and broken, paint spilled on them. Money given to me by my United Methodist Women had not been in the Team budget and when it was given to Gordon they decided to buy chairs--an unexpected pleasant surprise!

We had a Church School led and provided for by our team one day. With a "Peace" theme, the story was told about a Japanese girl, leukemia victim of the Hiroshima atom bombing. Friends folded paper Origami paper cranes and the story was told that if they made 1000 she would be well. An impossible goal, it is the foundation for promoting peace all over the world. So we folded paper cranes and sang and learned verses about Peace.

We visited families of the church. There were 8 families in an enclosed yard of packed dirt. Nut trees, berries, even an uncultivated cotton plant grew. There were 7 dogs, mama cat and kittens, other cats, assorted children and adults. All we met had been to the church and we welcomed.

The houses were very small, dark and crowded, with scant furniture and magazine pictures on the walls. One mother said she was supporting four children now so that they would support her when they were grown. She didn't say she wanted them to have an education to build their self-esteem like we would hear in our country. Our team had brought church and school supplies, small toys and games, but homes and church lacked many things we would think essential. One family of five lived in a 4 room house and I never did see running water. The father was cleaning the rock yard with a hose, so there must have been some inside as well as outside.

We were transported by van through streets crowded with traffic and houses. Sometimes there were bicycles darting in and out and always young children wearing the ever-present flipflops.

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