February 24, 2008
Demolition Versus Drywall
My intent was to be supportive. Participate in kitchen duty, give smiles of encouragement.
So I was not prepared (gasp!) when Pastor Alice said she was glad to see me and that I would be expected to speak as part of the North Lake United Methodist Church of Chelsea Michigan mission team during the 10:45 am service.
I accepted the challenge, though I knew I really had no choice in the matter. I also had no idea what I would say. I thought about telling the congregation how, for this team, their mission work began before we even left the NLUMC parking lot. How arriving early and seeing no one, I had not been sure I was in the right place.
Finally, I did see someone. I rolled down my window and asked, “You wouldn’t happen to be Pastor Alice, would you? She nodded “yes." We had connected via phone messages, but had not ever spoken to each other, so I was surprised when I introduced myself and she threw her arms around me in a welcoming hug. I knew then that I was in the right place.
Standing there on the podium at NLC with their mission team, Marilyn, Dave, Mary Jane and Pastor Alice, my knees were knocking, I was already feeling the tears starting to come.
When it was Mary Jane’s turn to speak, she told how she had been hesitant to make the trip because she had no construction skills to offer, but was assured that her presence would be a blessing. Mary Jane’s son had helped to secure a van from Palmer Ford in Chelsea. It was quite a donation of heart. The catch was that Mary Jane had been asked to remain with the van all the while it was in use. That is when she said something that would change my life, again. She told how, having no construction skills, she had been assigned to the demolition team. However, since she needed to stay with the van, she had been moved to a dry wall team.
My only semi-skill was in the limited experience I had with drywall through Habitat for Humanity. I had checked the box on the skills assessment that indicated I had some experience with drywall but still needed firm direction. I was a little disappointed when I found out that I had been assigned to the demolition team. Reason told me that there were probably volunteers with way more experience than I had, and that is why I had been given my demolition assignment. I learned a tremendous amount about myself at that site. I made some deep friendships, and found a “family" I belonged to.
So, standing up there on Sunday morning, in front of a congregation of unfamiliar faces, yet surrounded by four amazing friends, I realized that once again, my time in New Orleans had been directed by a higher power. God had put me where I needed to be, and not where I thought I was needed.
When it came my turn to speak, I had the anticipated trouble of keeping my voice steady. A Kleenex came down the line to me as I told the story of Pastor Alice and the parking lot hug. I shared with the congregation how this particular group, unbeknownst to them, was actually on two missions that week. One for the work that they did in New Orleans, and one for the work they did on me during the trip down and back.
I asked Mary Jane to also thank her son for me. For confirming what I know to be truths. There is nothing in this life that does not happen for a very specific reason, and nothing in this life is ever a coincidence.
Posted by jaselin at February 24, 2008 09:14 AM