Monday, March 13, 2006

Long Time, No Write

Yeah, it's been a little while. I guess that's because I don't really have anything to write about. Nothing that I thought would interest the thousands of gossip-hungry vagrants wandering the Blogger atmosphere. (No offense intended!) Lately, I've taken a creative turn, and I am thankful. I had a long dry spell with out feeling creative. You can see some of the fruits of my labor here; a cd cover and poster for Matt. I'm pretty pleased with them, which isn't something I'm prone to say about my own work.

These past couple of weeks since I got back from my trip have been a growing experience for me. In learning how to keep my focus entirely on God, and trusting Him to take care of me, and to give me what I need not a second before I need it, but the exact moment that I do. It takes a lot of trust and prayer. I've become more confident in myself, that confidence being that of realizing that I don't have to be as shy as my shyness always seemed to make me. I can talk to unacquainted people and become acquainted. I can learn how to do new things, and do them well. That is a good step for someone who's a lot like a loyal golden retriever: tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it as best I can. Granted, that's not altogether a bad trait, but it helps to be able to give you own input as well. God is changing me. Caution: hard hats! Area under construction. But don't worry, I asked God to do that.

My movie pick of the week: the new Pride & Prejudice.
My cd pick of the week: Shawn McDonald's new album, Ripen.

Good stuff. Well, I need to update my iPod with the afore-mentioned cd, and straighten up my room before leaving for choir. Like my blog, my room has become a little disorganized as I spent more time learning life lessons. Time to clean up!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Turning Point

I'm back! I arrived mostly in one piece back at Tyndale on Sunday morning at 8:00am. Parting was such sweet sorrow, but seeing my parents made up for it. I hope the things I learned on the trip will not quickly go the way of the dodo, which gave me a bit of a struggle, because I felt that I learned good things, and didn't want to revert back to old ways. I'll put this blog into two parts. Part 1 will be some stories. Part 2 will be lessons learned. Let's begin:

Part 1:
First we worked on Patty's house. It needed insulation and drywall, and to pass the electrical test, which as of 3:00pm today it still hadn't done. Patty told us at one point that before we came, she was despairing. Her husband had left her only a month ago, after they got the FEMA money. He took half and bugged out. She was left with two kids still at home (in the FEMA trailer) four dogs, a wrecked shell of a house, and no job. As we were leaving, she told us that now she had hope. She could see a light at the end of the tunnel, although she still had a long road ahead of her. As I was leaving her house, her daughter Kaitlyn came up with her dog and told me that her dog said goodbye and that it was going to miss me (she made it wave while saying this) Then, really quickly, she added that was going to miss me too. I was touched. She had never singled me out before, but it struck home with me how appreciative she was that I had come to help them rebuild their lives. I told her that I would miss her too.

Several days later, we found ourselves plumb out of work one day after lunch, so we headed back to the Samaritan's Purse HQ to get a new assignment. They sent us off to the Taco Bell house (it looked like a Taco Bell). The rest of the story, I found out that night, and this is how it goes: About 15 minutes after we had left SP HQ, the lady who owned the house and her daughter showed up, wondering where their house was on the list. The daughter had taken the day off work because she felt that her parents needed some encouragement. They were in tears as they inquired about their house, and then the SP lady told them to go on over to their house, because there was a team there now working on it! They came over to the house all joyous. The lady, Jesnah (Yes-Nah), a Croatian lady with both a Croatian and Southern accent (very odd) was bubbling all over to everyone about what used to be where, what additions her husband had made, everything. We were doing demo work, so there was wood and nails all over the floor. In between narrations of what used to be where and how the house looked before, Jesnah would say "Oh! I stepped on a nail!" For almost every step she took. We were so afraid she'd actually get one in her foot! We were relieved when she moved to safer ground. She told Kristen how her husband would come and sit on the steps for hours at a time, unable to work on the house because of health problems (they were an elderly couple) and how sometimes he would just sit there and cry. He had been there before we got there. Jesnah and her daughter decided to go back to their trailer and get him. (Their property was not big enough for a trailer to sit, so it was at another location). When he came, he was so touched. He had felt so discouraged that day, and later he got all choked up and told Jeff that without the Christians, they wouldn't have anything. God's timing was perfect for that couple. He knew they needed encouragement just at the right moment. He is amazing.

The next day, half my team went back to the Taco Bell house, and I was one of them. I got to rip out a whole little bathroom by myself! They dubbed me the Demolition Queen. I only had a little help. Mark helped me get the toilet and sink out, and I thought it would be wise to let him take out the light fixture too, I didn't want to get zapped, especially since I don't have a clue about wires and stuff. Later, I had to get John to cut out part of the ceiling, but the blade kept getting snagged, so we yanked on it till it broke off. I knocked walls out with a little sledge hammer and then when I couldn't get an accurate hit, I kicked it in. (Hammering at waist level is a little tricky!) I ripped the fake tile off the inner walls and pulled the foamy ceiling tiles off before unscrewing the plywood up there. The guy who built the bathroom must not have believed in drywall, because all the walls were made of plywood. I got lucky, my bathroom only had 1/8 to 1/4 inch wood. The other bathroom had 1/2 inch! When I was almost done with the ceiling, the unfortunate happened. It goes like this: Two screws got rounded out, so I had to pull them out with the hammer. Like I said before, the other bathroom had 1/2 inch wall, so the guys had the ladders. I had a folding chair. (hint: this is forshadowing!) One screw came out easily. Screw #2 was different. I yanked and pulled and twisted it... all to no avail. So I kind of jumped a little to get some more oomph on it, and then, the screw shot out like a bullet, all my weight was on the hammer, so I fell one way, the folding chair went the other way. I hit the 2x4 with a double row of screw heads sticking out about 1/4 of an inch. Then, because I hadn't hit the floor yet, I slid down. OW! Everyone came running to see if I was alright. I said I was, tried to get up, and realized my back felt like it was on fire! Diane bandaged me up, and I tried to ignore the pain and went back to work. That was when I finished pulling down the ceiling with a little help (after I pulled all the screws out of the studs though!)

Part 2:
I learned a lot of things. I'll just list them in the interest of time. I learned the meaning of Matthew 6:25-34. I learned how to make quick friendships. After all, I had to spend 36 hours in the van with these people, and that was only travel time! You don't get alone time on a trip like that. Being by myself when I got back was a bit of shocker. This led me to a decision: I've been trying to get to know Mr. P for months, and haven't really made any headway, if I'm quite honest with myself. I made the decision that I'm done with that. When I made that choice, as a conscious decision, I felt a little burden lift from my shoulders. Afterwards I found that Jeff had prayed about which people to put on what teams, and since Mr. P ended up on Team 2, and I on Team 1, it only served to confirm what I did. That part of my life is behind me. If God can send a team to work on Ray and Jesnah's house right when they felt so discouraged, I don't need to doubt that He can find the perfect guy for me. So I put it all in God's hands and I have moved on. I also learned that I can measure for and cut drywall, with the bend and snap method, and hang it with a power drill. Ooorah! I can build my own house someday! I also changed my heart. It used to say "no way" whenever missions came up. I like my comfort zone and I like it surrounded with familiar things, so I had always thought, "oh, someone else will do it". But now, if I feel God's calling me to be a missionary, I will not block it out or ignore Him. And I think that's a good thing to learn.

I'd like to take a minute to say thanks to all my missions trip cohorts, who made it really easy for me to get to know them, even though none of them will ever see this: Thanks Lisa, Diane, Kristen, Jeff, John, Mark, Kevin, Jon, Alan, Sheppard, Shawn, and Winder. And Ma and Dad for letting me go and encouraging me to go. It was really them who pushed me to sign up. I was scared to sign up, but once I did, I didn't look back. I might have turned to a salt statue! And Ma got a dog while I was gone. Little Sadie.