Sunday, June 9, 2013

Concrete Slab Competition

Concrete Competition

On Saturday, May 25 we had a great experience!  25 of the students were about to be the very first graduating class in the construction program.  The Saturday before graduation Elder Billings decided to have a  concrete slab competition.  There were 3 teams.  Billings 1 & Billings 2 were the 2 classes of guys graduating the next week.  Then there was a team of PTIs.  They are the men who have been chosen to be the future teachers of the construction class… and project managers in the 5 areas of the country, after they receive their training for 2 years.  They thought they would win for sure.

To top off the excitement of the day, we received word that the presiding bishop of the church was going to be in Kinshasa that day, and he wanted to come and see a
few minutes of the competition, and say “hi” to the graduates.  The Presiding Bishop’s office is over construction, so he is very interested in the program to see if it can really go worldwide.  We were told he would be there for about 5 minutes. 

The competition started, and things went very quickly. There was lots of hustle!   Remember that all the mixing and pouring of concrete is done by hand. 

They were amazing… and got so much done quickly, that we had to give them a 10 minute break.  We didn’t want them to finish before Bishop Stephenson arrived.  When the “entourage” of dignitaries arrived (The presiding Bishop, his executive secretary, the Area authorities of the south half of Africa, the head of Temporal Affairs for South Africa and a few others for good luck) we were back into the heart of the competition.  The students were excited to have an audience, even though I doubt they realized the importance of what was happening.  Most of we, the “Moondellies” had tears in our eyes, as we watched them in action.  9 months ago most of these guys were unemployed and in poverty, wondering how they could ever get ahead in life, and beat the poverty cycle of Africa.  On May 25th they were radiating self confidence as they glowed and demonstrated their new talents.  I just kept thinking… they will all have concrete floors in their homes, for generations to come… and their babies won’t be raised crawling on dirt floors!
 Bishop Stephenson used to work in construction and concrete.  He was very excited to watch the completion.  He stayed for over half and hour.  He spoke to them and ended with his testimony. Then he shook everyone’s hand. 

After we took the picture, we went back to work and the completion of the slabs competition pressure was on.   The PTI’s (Potential Training Instructors) thought they would win for sure.  Many of them have had previous experience.   However, they had a bird bath in one corner.  (A low spot).  And… on Thursday, Billings 2 class won the practice round.  So it was very exciting when the Billings 1 class won.  They weren’t the fastest… but their slab and sportsmanship were the best!  The prizes were that the winning team got their own cement trowels.  
 It was a wonderful day in the Congo!



1 comment:

  1. Grandpa's first comment was "I wish I was 20 years younger!" We just read them all from the begining of this mission. We just wept reading this fun post. Grandpa says he loves you and he is mighty proud of you!