How to Move a Shipping Container (and other updates)

Dear friends and family,

Last week, Gabriel and I conducted a week of prayer for the students at the Adventist school in Bere. Every morning we presented the theme two times: once to the group of younger students, and once to the group of high school students. Our theme was Two Sides: I Can Choose. We studied Bible stories in which people made either good choices and encouraged the students to make good choices. You can see a video of our theme song here (be sure to not get distracted on YouTube and come back to finish reading the newsletter!):

I (Jonathan) am now studying with two couples in preparation for baptism. Please pray for the people making decisions for eternity! Pray for the work in our district. In our last district committee meeting, we identified 14 official groups in addition to the 3 organized churches; that's 17 sites to manage. Our prayer is that several of the more mature groups will become mature enough to be able to organize as churches soon.

Our family project last week was to can guavas. We canned almost 80 quarts of guava sauce! This will be very helpful to us, as it is still a long time until mango season.

Gabriel has been helping us with editing a lot of materials for evangelism. We hope to have the first year of My Bible First! Kindergarten lessons in French ready for publication soon. We are busy preparing other publications to be released hopefully before the end of the year.

Work has begun in earnest on our new print shop building. Instead of being crammed into a very small space of about 600 square feet (including paper storage), we will have a new facility of around 2400 square feet! We are still in the early stages, but the early stages are already proving to be difficult! Please pray for us to have wisdom and safety as we attempt a complicated building project in a primitive environment. We believe it is God's will to establish a more efficient work place for the literature ministry in this region of Africa. It will not be easy, but the effort will be all worth it when we consider the value of people saved for eternity as a result of our labors.

The rest of this update will be on how to position a shipping container. If you just want to skip to the pictures, find the link near the end of this newsletter. Enjoy!

  • Step 0: Normally, the container is loaded onto a truck in a more developed area (Cameroon) with a crane. That's the easy part that happens before arriving here.
  • Step 1: Talk to the truck driver and convince him to drive his big truck off road along sandy trails to where you want to unload the container. Make sure you lead him along a trail wide enough for his truck and where there are no low overhanging branches. Calm his fears that his truck may get stuck in a sand pit.
  • Step 2: Find the biggest tree closest to where you want the container to finally rest. If you choose a tree too small, and you will uproot or snap the tree. Have the truck driver back up the truck close to the tree. Tie the container to the tree with a strong chain. Then instruct the driver to drive straight away from the tree so that the container will drop to the ground squarely. If all goes well, the container will not tip on its side as it falls off. Here is a video of our container dropping:
  • Step 3: Dig a hole underneath the container and place a wide, strong board at the bottom of the hole. Place the hydraulic jack on the board in the hole. Without the board, the jack will sink into the sandy dirt. Lift up the container as far as the jack can go, then block it with boards. Repeat the process until you can slip in a few old (empty) propane bottles.
  • Step 4: Now, use the 10-ton winch on the Land Cruiser to move the container toward the destination, inches at a time. You can also use a couple of i-beams to slide along. Each time the container comes to the end of the i-beams or propane bottles, dig another hole for a board and jack and lift up the container and re-position the supports. In this case, we will move the container roughly 100 feet in the course of 4 days.
  • Step 5: The Land Cruiser was down for repairs during this time, so we devised another method that is slow, but sure. Use a high-lift jack to raise the container up about a foot or two. Then block the container with boards at a carefully calculated angle. As you carefully let the container down, the angled boards combined with gravity force the container to move a few inches one direction or the other.
  • Step 6: Once the final position is fine-tuned, lift up the container and set it on some supports such as old engine blocks or old propane bottles. Make sure it cannot fall, because we will have to dig holes under the container for the foundation piers.
  • Step 7: Once the foundation piers are poured and cured for a week, let the container down onto its final resting place. Let's hope the piers were poured straight and that the container didn't shift.

It's a lot of work, but we have 12 of the 16 foundation piers poured already! Now, we are waiting for the the ground to dry up a bit more so we can drag the third and final container to the site. Then we can start working on the foundations for the steel structure.

If you are interested, we have uploaded a public album of pictures showing the construction process (don't worry, you don't have to sign up for Facebook):

Desert Tree Ministry Facebook Album

Also, don't forget to keep checking our YouTube channel for new videos every week!

Desert Tree Minstry YouTube Channel

In His service,
Jonathan, Melody, Gideon, Liliana, and Eliora Dietrich