Building A House: The Foundation

When I was in Guatemala, I worked with a team of 25 teenagers and six adults to build a Casas por Cristo house in two and a half days.  In the next couple of days, I’ll go into some detail about this experience.  Today, I start with the foundation.

I was part of the site preparation and foundation team.  From the start of work until lunch time on day one, our team worked diligently on clearing the location of the house, setting up the forms for the foundation, and making sure the forms were completely square and firmly set in place.  We also leveled the location of the slab, and we installed rebar strategically along the perimeter of the slab to sure up and strengthen the foundation.  Finally, before we mixed and dumped one load of concrete, we installed a wire mesh across the surface of the entire slab.  Again, this would be used to firm up the concrete.

After lunch, we setup two concrete mixing stations.  With the teamwork of two groups bringing sand, concrete, rocks, and water.  We mixed many, many loads of concrete which were dumped inside the forms and smoothed out to form the foundation and slab of the house we built.  (The slab was 16 feet by 18 feet which would form the base for a three room house.  I’ll give more details in a future post.)

When we finished the house, the foundation and slab were the least visible piece of the house.  It was completely covered by a brand new house.  The foundation however was the key element in building a house that will last a long time in Guatemala where most homes are built with dirt floors.    40% of the time required to build the entire house was spent making sure the foundation was just right.  If we didn’t get this part right, the house wouldn’t go together correctly – it would be crooked, and it would eventually fall down.  Those of us who worked on the foundation wanted to get onto the more glamorous work of hammering nails and putting up walls, but we had an important part to play in building a house that will last.

Our lives and our spiritual growth are like this as well.  We want to get onto the glamorous parts of our spiritual growth curve without making sure things are structurally sound in the fundamental things.  This is one of the reasons that I’ve been excited to teach a class at our church called Foundations.  It’s a class designed to help people establish some foundational elements to their spiritual toolbox.

I learned many things about construction while we built this house, but I was also reminded of some life-truths that will stick with me for a while.

What areas of your life have thrived because you put the work in for a good foundation?  In what areas of your life do you need to go back and firm up your foundation?