Day 4: Just in Time

By Thomas Gregory

Today, my group returned to Batey Hata de Mana, this time with no blowout on the way. When we arrived at the work site, our Dominican co-workers were nowhere to be found. Instead of wait around, our team sprung into action, backfilling the footings and moving cinder blocks into the work area. Once the masons arrived, they went to work laying block while we mixed mortar and concrete by hand.

By lunchtime, we had added several more courses of blocks to the wall and we were all tired. After a lunch of chicken and rice, meat pies, peanut butter sandwiches, and cookies, we went back to it, working in the hot sun for another hour or so. At about 2:30 p.m., one of our Dominican guides invited us to play baseball with a group of local kids who were gathering on the field behind the worksite.

It was great to interact with the batey locals, to attempt to speak Spanish, and to take a break from work to enjoy the day. The kids from the batey provided all the equipment we needed, handing over their gloves each time we took to the field. Although they beat us in all three games that we played, we laughed and otherwise had a really great afternoon.

When we returned to the worksite, the walls had been finished by team members Larry Crawford and Bill Crump, along with the Dominican masons. As we said goodbye to our friends Elena, Yosi, and Elenita, we promised to return tomorrow. The bus ride back was enjoyable as we took in the beautiful scenery, told stories from our day, and enjoyed the fresh air blowing in through the school bus windows.

Back at Casa Pastoral, we showered and enjoyed a meal of barbequed chicken, rigatoni pasta, plantains, mixed vegetables, and bread. For dessert, we enjoyed tres leches cake, which would rival anything you could order from the Crystal Grill. At Bible study, we heard from Jonathan, one of the missionaries at Maranatha Mission. He told us about their projects and the work they do to spread God’s love in and around La Romana.

The night ended with a trip to the Jumbo for helados (ice cream) and other necessities. Shannon Melton bought a new pair of shoes for her friend Yosi from Hata de Mana. Tish Goodman purchased candy and toys for the children in the batey she has been working in. We returned at the end of a full day, tired but ready for tomorrow’s journey.

Early in the day, as I was filling up Larry’s bucket with mortar to take to the masons, I remarked that we were mixing mortar “Just In Time.” As a production strategy, Just In Time (JIT) management maximizes profit by reducing inventory. Throughout the day, I returned to that phrase, thinking about alternative meanings it could have.

Perhaps our group arrived in Hata de Mana to install a water filtration system just in time to keep someone from getting sick. Perhaps our group arrived at the classrooms in the bateys just in time to provide the encouragement some kid needed to stay in school. And then again, perhaps we came on this trip just in time for God to make a difference in our own lives, and by doing so, in the lives of those we’ve met along the way.