Sunday, April 17, 2011

Warmer, safer, dryer

For a little over a year now I have had the incredible opportunity to lead a work team from church with Good Works.  Good Works is a local ministry similar to Habitat for Humanity.  The mission of Good Works is to make existing homes warmer, safer and dryer.  Good Works is a relation-based organization.  Work teams have one dedicated Saturday a month as a work day; ours is the 3rd Saturday of the month.

For a long time Providence had been wanted to get a team together.  But the leaders weren't there.  We would need a tech staff of at least one, an ambassador to focus on family relations and a work crew leader.  Eventually, after some prayer, I took on the role of work crew leader.  Now, if you know me (especially if you know me from camp!!) you may know that I don't really have a lot of experience in home repair.  Seriously, this was more evidenced in yesterday's work day when the hole I needed to cut for an electrical outlet ended up being about a foot wide.  Still though, I said that I would take on the role.  And let me tell you just how awesome God orchestrated this whole thing!  Three men from Providence stepped up as tech staff!  Brent Balla, Seth Windle and Patrick Crawford.  Brent and Seth each own a contracting business and Pat is a plumber.  Brent often was able to bring a friend with him who is an electrician.  So, we pretty well covered all the bases in terms of experience.  As for an ambassador, Ryan Enns took on that role.  And late last winter we signed on as a 3rd Saturday work day crew.

We were given our first home to work on in West Chester.  We started with a walkthrough of the home and assessed what we could do.  Everything from minor electric work to leaking pipes to a new roof were on our punch list.  We started off a little slow with some indoor work.  We cleaned and organized a basement.  We managed to scrap a bunch of metal for a few hundred dollars and build shelving units with that money.  We rebuilt the stairs to the outside of the basement as well as built a new door and fixed up the exterior door.

When Spring came around we tackled the roof.  Man, was it hot!  In May we got up on the roof and started ripping off shingles.  We quickly realized that we would need to replace a lot of the plywood under the shingles.  It took two work days, but we got a new roof on.  We did some bathroom remodeling.  Pat is awesome!  He restored the toilet to looking and working brand new.  We put in a new shower and replaced the sink with a beautiful pedestal sink to increase the space.

And there were a lot of smaller projects as well.  But now, we are winding down.  We spent the past two work days in the kitchen remodeling and replacing.  We knocked out a wall to allow extra space, built an addition for the fridge to also add more space.  Seth was amazing at getting this thing built!  We put the new fridge into it and it fits exactly right.  We have some flooring to replace and some painting and we'll be done.

But what is more than the home being warmer, safer and dryer is how much we have grown to love this family.  And how encouraged we have been by them.  And how blessed we've been by them.  They have been working alongside of us.  When we did the roof, the father of the family was working at his regular job.  He came home and like a beast starting lugging packs of shingles up to the roof for us.  I mean it - like a beast!  This dude is a former boxer.  He slapped a pack on each shoulder and started up the ladder.  Me, yeah, I'm afraid of heights so there was no way I was lugging a 70 pound pack of shingles up that ladder.  It took a lot to get me alone up there!

This picture below sums up a lot in my mind of the entire project.  It is from a few months ago.  This is the pedestal sink that we put in right after we connected the water.  It was far from easy.  I've learned that while these sinks look nice, they are a pain in the butt to actually put in!  After a long day of plumbing, making new pipes, getting the sink set right, and mounted we were finally ready to connect the water.  When that water started flowing suddenly all of the frustration and anger was replaced with joy.  I was immediately reminded of John 4: 13-14.  It says, "Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life'".

We have been able to do so much in this home.  But when I think of some of the most memorable times, I think of sitting up on the roof with the homeowner talking about life.  I think about building new relationships with men and women from Providence.  The works are temporary.  In 25-30 years, that roof will probably need to be replaced again.  The paint will eventually need repainting.  The new fridge and stove will eventually start to break down as years pass.  But the conversations - those are lasting!

I remember a night from before I was adopted.  My sister, mother and I were laying down to sleep outside.  A couple took us in that night and fed us and gave us a place to sleep.  I have no idea what the food was or really anything about this couple.  But I've never forgotten their act of kindness.  I think that in time this family of 6 at Good Works will have a similar memory.  Our faces will be long gone from their minds, but those 4 children will always have it with them how they were loved on by strangers.  And that is a beautiful image!

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