That would be the (now former) landowner of our plots, where we had been hoping to start building our home in the next few weeks. That is now not looking likely, due to a combination of the rapid disappearance of 'dry time' to get the foundations laid down before rainy season and, alas, the devil-may-care attitude of the landowner.
When I called her a week past on Friday, to propose meeting her in Santa Cruz, and thereby hastening the building process, her effusive reaction was akin to that of someone being told 'You've just won a million dollars. Would you mind if I pop round with it to your house?' "Oh, but of course! Come! Come!"
And go I did. On Monday morning, I arrive at her
Strangely, she isn't there. 45 minutes later, her gleaming SUV appears. She'd been at the gym when she noticed some random person kept calling her. I wonder who that could have been?
Nevertheless, we quickly get down to numbers and she sees that we've covered our end of the bargain fairly and squarely, meaning that we can meet later at her lawyer's to process the necessary documentation. An upturn in fortunes, it seems. Only I take my leave of her with an ominous warning ringing in my ears: most of her relevant paperwork is in Trinidad!!!
And sure enough, that afternoon, I secure from her just one of four documents I'd required from her and which she knew I had come to draw up with her. Without these documents, Amanda and I cannot legally proceed with construction. I didn't hear a word of apology from her the whole afternoon -- not a hint of it -- but, then again, perhaps I should have shown more contrition. After all, wasn't I the one inconveniencing her?
And as I trudged back to the bus terminal that evening, unrested, unwashed and unhappy, it was hard not to come to the conclusion that the whole trip had been the biggest waste of time since Neville Chamberlain took a trip to Munich and decided that chap with the ridiculous moustache wasn't so nasty after all. I had well and truly been taken for a ride.
We met with our architect the following day and he confirmed that we were out of options until we could secure the rest of the paperwork from the heroine of the piece. She will, in fact, be in Trinidad for the whole of November -- unfortunately, too late to break ground before rainy season. However, we will certainly keep pestering her until she decides she can't take any more of us plebs and hands over the documents.
Furthermore, when all is said and done, we can be thankful that we have a guaranteed roof over our heads for the time being -- indeed, the terms of our stay in our current apartment are entirely up to us. So we're obviously disappointed and frustrated over the week's events, but so thankful that our need to build is not urgent.
Today is the seventh anniversary of Fundación Totaí, one of the two ministries we work for here in Trinidad (the other being our church 'El Jireh'). To mark the occasion, the whole staff is leaving in about an hour's time for a family day by the river. Which doesn't leave me with a lot of time, but I'll briefly mention the other event we left with you last week, the planning meeting which took place on Wednesday and Thursday. There, as a staff, and as individual areas (i.e. Amanda with health and I with education), we assessed where we are now and the kinds of long-term goals we can be committing to in the coming years. And from that, we then began to plan in earnest our day-to-day work in 2012.
It's always good to pause and take stock, and as a staff we all feel the benefit of having done so, with an eye on what awaits us. I'm particularly excited about the potential of the educational work; more than anything, I'm hoping to expand and diversify the range of evangelistic activities in the community, be they religious education classes, support activities for local churches, or English classes which use the Bible as the basis for learning (or, indeed, vice-versa!). Over the coming weeks and months, I'll hopefully be able to share in a lot more detail. Until then, we love you and leave you.
- For continued patience and grace as we seek to conclude our land dealings in the coming weeks.
- For wisdom and discernment as we seek to implement the changes discussed over the past few days as a foundation.
- For God's provision for us. We wish we could build soon, but the need is not a pressing one.
- For safety during Craig's travels, and a little rest too (four hours' sleep on the overnight trip home is a new record!).
¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Craig & Amanda