Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Roof Pour

this past friday, July 9th, we poured the roof of the missionary home in kosrae. the job called for 70-75 yds of concrete to be poured and finished on the top of the missionary home. in kosrae you don't just call up the concrete plant and say send me some crete in the morning, and you certainly don't call up the local pump truck and ask him to pour the concrete on a roof 15 ft off the ground. they don't exist here in kosrae. when you want to pour concrete you go buy sand, gravel, and portland, then you mix it yourself and pour it.... yourself. the previous roof pour that the construction crew had in micronesia was on the island of pohnpei, where they poured 70 yards with a 100 volunteers, a plethora of buckets, a couple of mixers, and some ladders to boot. pohnpei has concrete trucks and pumps but they decided to do the job by hand in preparation of this pour in kosrae. so it's the week of the pour in kosrae, everything on the roof is formed, braced, and re-enforced with so much steel that it could withstand a natural disaster of massive proportions. a few problems arise though, volunteers are not as plentiful as hoped for the pour. instead of the 100 volunteers in pohnpei, there are about 35 volunteers/construction crew members total. it's decided that we need to solicit some equipment help from a local construction crew. a giant mixer capable of mixing 7yds an hour is rented along with a front end loader( tractor ) for dumping the materials into the mixer. also rented was a crane that would allow us to lift&pour the concrete onto the roof. these moves make the pour possible. as a side point- when you live on an island in the middle of the pacific ocean thousands of miles from any noticeable country, you come to appreciate that once a machine breaks you no longer have a machine. there are no replacement machines or overnight shipping for quick repairs, you either find another way or you wait for a long time. the crane broke two days before the pour. the company apologizes and offers their forklift. this is helpful but it means that we will now be wheelbarowing all the concrete on the roof, a sizable challenge for such a small crew. we carry on though. later that afternoon the skies turn grey and it begins to rain. heavy rains continue all the way up to the day of the pour. for the sake of everyones eyes and your patience i'll try to make this story progress a little faster. the pour is set for 7 am friday morning because it's said that the operators of the machinery can not make it any earlier that morning. when the operators drop off the equipment thursday evening they say that starting at 6 is no problem for them. we move up our start time one hour. 5:00 am friday morning we arrive at the site to prepare for the pour. it's still raining. in fact it's raining harder than it's rained all week, a deluge. word comes in from the arriving missionary couple that the only rode on the island is now impassable because a giant mangrove tree has fallen across the street( the tree was at least a hundred feet long, natives say that it was one of the largest trees on the island,"coincidentally" the tree fell directly across the street where the old kingdom hall is in kosrae). if we had not moved up our start time the night before we wouldn't have made it to the site. the concern now is, how are the operators going to make it here. soaking wet we jump into a truck and head to the fallen mangrove tree, we will do our best to move it and then find the operators. now common sense tells you that maybe this isn't your day to pour concrete. no one in the secular world would pour concrete on a morning like this, i promise you that, the financial risk is far too great. i was right though, it "our" day... it is Jehovah's day. looking back at that day i'm reminded of the scripture at prov 3:5,6-"Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding.  In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight". as we arrive to the fallen tree we notice the operators walking down the street in the rain. these guys don't work on days like this with weather like this, their on an island, there's no rush. but there they are soaking wet and ready to work! we pile into the truck and head to the site. it's still pouring rain though. who cares at this point! we fire up the machines and start mixing the very first load of concrete. as the forklift raises the first bucket up to the roof, i kid you not... it stops raining. the rain stayed away until the very end of the 10 hour pour. we are given perfect weather for the duration of the pourimg of the roof slab. had the sun been out it would have been extremely difficult to work that long through the day. early the next morning, some time around midnight, we finished the roof under a beautiful night sky in kosrae. i've personally seen the magnificent things that can be accomplished when you work in sacred service. whether it's concrete in kosrae or knocking on a door in griffin georgia, there is no doubt that all of us serve the most magnificent creator. when we seek first the kingdom and rely on gods thinking, not our own, then, there is nothing that we can not accomplish.


  1. Hey Matt, it's your cousin Krista. Mom told me about your site so had to check it out. Looks amazing there! We are so happy and somewhat jealous of you, but more happy. What an unforgettable experience, hope at some point in the future we can hear more about it. We're heading to WV in Sept, got snowshoe in our circuit now! Lots of love, Krista

  2. Hi Matthew,
    Just had our district last weekend. It definitely felt like something was missing this time - that means you. ;) For the first time in recorded history, we, yes we, got up at 5.45 so we could arrive before 8 am to secure good rail seats for everyone. can you believe it? maybe we are officially grown ups now. your blog is so nice. it's always so encouraging and heart warming to read your words and hear your voice. So keep it up! We are so proud of you but miss you much! love you - Janique n friends

  3. matt - very amazing assignment you have. it's very encouraging to see one of my oldest friends sharing in a project halfway around the world! if the end of the world happens and you're still there, let's meet in hawaii 500 years into the millenium for a beer.


  4. Matt - you are really slingin' crete now! And for God at that....what a super star. Your fellow crete slingers must be jealous. I think we need some sort of "Crete slingin' for the Creator" on Or maybe not....miss ya friend.

    Trent & Stacey

  5. Hey Matt, this is Chloe from Sharpsburg cong. We have mutual friends (Reets and Loves). I recently vacationed with them and they told me about your assignment which sounded sublime! I happened across this blog and just wanted to let you know how encouraging your experience is. It gives an heartwarming depiction of the brotherhood and helps to foster an appreciation for the organization and how privileged we are to participate in so many avenues of sacred service. I hope this experience will be one of many for you and can't wait for your next entry!! Thanks for sharing.


  6. What an unforgettable day that must have been, Matt....whenever you look back and remember it and the people who shared it with you, it will be sweeter each time, too....thanks for sharing that experience in such detail and don't worry about adding too much're writing a once-in-a-lifetime account about something extraordinary so I think the readers of this blog will have the patience to read it. ;-) It made me think of how God once made the sun and moon stand still on the plain of Aijalon to accomplish His purpose. Why not make the rain stop on the island of Kosrae to accomplish the important work being done there, too? A truly remarkable account...take care of yourself, cousin. I'm very proud of you and the work you're helping to accomplish there and am glad I can see through this medium a few brief glimpses of the people and sights you're seeing and experiencing, some of which I'm sure is too much for words or pictures to capture.

  7. greetings! love these notes! the day of the "pour" (pun intended right?) is great!
    we feel for you. know the feeling of 'tropical rain" and "broken machinery and no parts available" no home depot or auto zone near by. makes you appreciate EVERYTHING you have, every gift, from brotherhood, organization, family to friend and most of all Jehovah. your thoughts are lessons to remind us as well. our hearts are with you buddy. love, J & R

  8. Wow Matt,
    Sorry that I'm reading your posts all late but the experience for this pour was truly incredible! It's amazing how at different builds you manage to see Jehovah's hand! Thank you for sharing such an awesome experience. I'm so glad you got the privilege to serve in Guam, keep up the good work Matt! Con mucho cariño, Kristy (Practice your Spanish! haha)