Sometimes life offers you the most extraordinary experience. Saturday was one of those days for me. 450 of my closest friends and I framed two houses for two refugee families in about three hours. Our partners in blessings: Habitat for Humanity and Crossroads Ministries. I'd never heard of the Crossroads folks, but they do the organizing for events such house framings. We loved all of them.
See, we have this newish pastor, Pastor Duane, and he has lit a fire under us. His take on things: Christianity is community, and it doesn't stop at the parameters of the church parking lot. You'd best be about helping out your fellow men and women and kids. It hardly matters if those fellow folks are in Africa, Mexico, or in your own neighborhood. (And if you want to know what his Saturday was like: he pounded nails and hauled lumber for 3 hours, then ran Robie Creek Saturday afternoon [a half marathon over the top of a mountain then down the other side—for my Russian buddies], then conducted 4 church services on Sunday. Gives you an idea about his energy levels. The rest of us are huffing and puffing to keep up.)
Here was the surprise: how many guys showed up to work and work hard. Spirituality is one of those fussy aspects of life, open to interpretation and experience. Hand a guy a hammer and a task. Tell him he is directly helping out a dad with four little kids and a pretty wife, who all escaped from revolution, starvation, and war in a far off land. Our men will be there—in spades.
Highlights: So my carpentry skills are miserable. Didn't matter. I could pound some nails. I did find a calling: picking up bent nails that might harm kids and unwary workers. Gotta be a metaphor in there somewhere. Tom, our team leader, was a hardworking guy. So was
Chip, a guy who spent some serious time in Iraq and is now equally serious about building houses of peace. So were the dozens of other team leaders. On task. On time.
You sorta have to hear the sounds of 400 hammers, pounded hard against hard wood, to believe it.
Woody and Sharon bought breakfast for all 450 volunteers including a bazillion little kids and the volunteers from the Church.
The kids were the most fun. We had five little kids on our team, under the age of five, carefully tended by moms, grandmoms, aunties. The kids were furious pounders. One little guy hardly hit the nails. He didn't blink for an hour. Fully engaged in the task. Our kids worked at getting three boards pounded together. The team leader would put an X on the board where he wanted the nails to go. Kids and I went to work setting the nails in place. Pastor Duane's kid, (some kids have a high cool factor), came by and finished off pounding the nails. Otherwise, we'd still be there.
The kids drew art work along the planks. One of the most charming aspects of the whole day was that we could write words of encouragement and love on the house frame. I don't know how many wobbly "God loves you" inside crooked little hearts there were. Lots. Another metaphor for the having. One little guy on my team wrote "good luk when you liev." I'm not too concerned about his grammar and his spelling.
He is 4-years-old. Maybe a very mature three.