All through August, the sound of men’s voices talking, laughing and even sometimes disagreeing filled the house. The deep rumble of the cement mixer, the jackhammer’s pounding and the puffing of the painters’ compressor frequently drowned out the voices, but somehow the cement mason’s radio managed to blare out advertisements and popular songs above all the other noises. This cacophony began promptly at 8:30am and ended abruptly at 5pm every workday. Although our ears ached by the end of each day, the noise was proof that repairs were being done on the house – and we are immensely thankful for the way that the Lord has blessed and directed in this big step!
|Zaccheaus and helpers mixing cement.|
|New sidewalk being laid.|
Time and use cracked all three layers of the sidewalk in a variety of places and it was beginning to crumble. Zaccheaus spent two and a half days removing the worst part of the sidewalk and then mixing cement and laying a new one. He then gave us the responsibility of "watering" the sidewalk several times a day to prevent the top layer of cement from drying out quicker than the bottom layer.
Zaccheaus also broke up a narrow swath of cement on the back veranda, as well as almost half of the ramp which goes from the garage to the downstairs. Our house has two floors and there was a long crack along one side of the veranda and various cracks in the ramp that were allowing water into David’s bedroom and the catch-all room, which we call the shed.
Once Zaccheaus had these areas broken up and leveled, Sr. Renato sent Valdecir out to lay a “blanket” of asphalt which permanently sealed the cracks. Zaccheaus then went back over these areas spreading a layer of cement and laying new granite tiles on the ramp and ceramic tile on the veranda.
|Reinforcing the outside wall.|
As he was working on the ramp, Zaccheaus also spent time reinforcing the outside wall. This wall reaches well over eight feet high in some places and separates our property from the empty lot next door. The wall’s foundation has gradually settled and caused cracks in the wall. To keep these cracks from becoming worse, Zaccheaus chipped off the cement around them, embedded rebar into the wall and then covered it all with new cement.
Zaccheaus’ last job was to remove the bathtub from the main bathroom. This poor bathtub had a sorry existence which began with being installed incorrectly and ended years later with cracking and leaking water into the downstairs area. The bathtub was already unusable when we moved into the house, but we could stand in the tub and take a shower so it met our needs for a number of years. Eventually, though, the sand under the bathtub shifted causing the bottom of the tub to crack and making even showering impossible.
Considering that bathtubs are uncommon in Brazilian homes, Sr. Renato suggested that we remove it, lay ceramic tile and make a simple shower box, instead of installing a new tub. Zaccheaus brought some helpers with him and did just that! As the shower floor neared completion, we again faced the dilemma of matching old ceramic tile and this time the stacks of tile in the shed failed us. Thankfully, I met a helpful saleslady at the construction store. She helped me find a new tile which complements the existing tile in the bathroom. Now that the new tile and shower box have been installed, the bathroom has a modern air about it – just as the saleslady predicted it would. :)
Zaccheaus and a plumber he knows removed the bathtub and its pipes on a Friday afternoon. The next morning the water reservoir in the attic began overflowing. Since our plumber couldn’t come out until Monday, we went the weekend with the water shut off at the street. Monday morning early the plumber arrived and replaced the buoy which controls the incoming water. Later that afternoon, he changed the buoy again because the reservoir continued to overflow and run off the roof. This second buoy still did not solve the problem, so we called the plumber who had removed the bathtub to see what he could do. He wasn’t sure what was causing the overflow, but a colleague of his eventually found a pipe in the bathroom that had been left open and was allowing water to run through the pipes and back up to the reservoir. Moments after the pipe was closed, we sighed with relief as the street water was turned on and the reservoir DID NOT run over. A few hours later, though, the reservoir was still doing just fine but we discovered that the hot water system was dry. Guess who we had to call again? The plumber came out one last time, removed air from the hot water pipes and since then there has been water in the pipes where it should be and no water running off the roof where it shouldn’t be!
|All the metalwork.|
He then added “There are also some larger bugs with long wings that are attracted to wet paint too.” I am happy to report that the larger insects never arrived and the smaller ones did wash off easily!
|Truck full of books.|
Having the books gone made it much easier to paint and later clean up the downstairs area, and it gives us less to move when the time comes for that.
|The foam and I.|
Right about the time that the books were being moved, I spent two days removing the acoustic foam from the sound room’s ceiling and walls. A good part of the foam pulled off the walls in complete panels or at least large chunks, but there were several places where I had to scrape it off inch by inch.
|Removing glue in the sound room.|
When the painters moved in to paint the sound room, they spent almost two full days scraping and applying chemicals to remove the remaining glue from the walls. Their efforts paid off and the sound room looks very nice now.
|Applying water repellent paint.|
There were three other walls in the downstairs area of the house that also required extra attention from the painters. One of these was the back wall of David’s bedroom. This wall runs right along our property line and since there is no house built behind us, it is completely exposed to the weather. During the dry season, the paint on this wall tends to peal and the rainy season makes the pealing even worse. Silvano, the head painter, did two things to mitigate this problem. First, he applied water repellent paint to the outside of the wall, and then he had his men texture the inside of the wall before they painted it. The texture adds a nice accent wall to the room, but most importantly it helps the paint adhere better. Hopefully it will be able to withstand the sun and rain of this coming year!
|Wall with ongoing humidity.|
|Repairs are finished!|
|Mom and I|
These house repairs have been physically and emotionally draining on Mom and I, but words fail us to express how wonderful it is to have them done! We sincerely appreciate all who pray for us and also give to meet our needs!! Our house is now officially for sale. Sr. Renato has taken pictures and will be putting an advertisement in the local paper as well online. We look forward to seeing how the Lord will direct and provide in this next step, just as He has up until now.