How the Main Lodge Project Went from Dream to Reality
By Dan Roth
ERGLI, Latvia – On June 15, 2014 I found myself on British Airways flight 53 from London to Seattle. The kids and I were met at the airport by Larry and Ruth York, whisked off to their home and promptly fed a wonderful meal. Jet-lagged, and fearful of falling asleep on my gracious hosts, I took the strategy of simply keeping on talking.
A few weeks later I received a phone call from Diks Bortnikovs in Latvia. He said, “Ruth says we should do it!”
“What?” I replied, “Do what?”
“Ruth said you told her that we need to build the lodge and I said, ‘If Dan is ready to build, then let’s do it!’”
“Wow, is that what I said?”
A few days earlier I had asked my wife Katie, who was helping out at orphan camp, “How are things going?”
Her answer was immediate, “The camp is great . . . but the rain and mud are terrible! There just isn’t anywhere to go when the weather is bad!”
As we shared with people last summer about the needs at camp, it seemed everyone was in agreement. It was time for Eagle’s Wings to have a lodge!
As we came back to Latvia, my prayers went something like this, “Ok, Lord, I get it. We need to build the lodge. But when?”
In mid-October when Dustin Peterson called and said, “If you can get a foundation in, I think we can bring a work team this Spring.”
“Wow!” I thought, “That is quick, and winter will soon be upon us. I don’t know . . .” But when my cousin Dwight called and said he and my nephew Daniel could come in mid-November, we decided to go for it.
There have been a few intense times. One was when we cleared the ground and dug up a spring right under where the foundation needed to be placed. Suddenly wet mud was not only a camp problem, but a building problem as well.
Then there was the pouring of the floor. As we finished the cement work, suddenly the temperature started to drop. We had been told that 40F (5C) is the best temperature for pouring cement. Now it was 5F (-15C). At least we no longer had a mud problem! But we did have to build a massive tent and heat the foundation for a week with big diesel blow heaters until the cement was cured.
The biggest test of faith came while pouring the cement wall for the daylight basement. The latest and greatest here in Latvia is to use styrofoam forms that don’t have to be removed after the cement dries, but rather serve as insulation for the walls. A great idea, but does it work?
We had all kinds of different advice on how best to do it. Some said we should pour it in three stages. Others said it was designed to be poured all at once. Since it was a lot more convenient (and cheaper) to pour it all at once, we went for that option. With only about a foot of cement in the forms (the walls are 250 cm high (8 feet+), one of the bottoms blew out and cement started flowing out onto the floor. The cement truck drivers declared the whole thing a disaster that wouldn’t work and strongly advised aborting the mission. Diks and Janis declared an impromptu prayer meeting, to the shock of the truck drivers.
Diks said, “All we can do now is keep pouring.” Slowly and with frequent pauses, the entire 8 feet of wall was poured. Diks said, “Lord, I don’t need a miracle and I don’t care how you do it, I just need you to hold those forms together!!”
Praise God for answered prayer and continued confirmation that this is His project!