Barbaras Children Student Volunteers
There are worse things that can happen than having to modify ones personal schedule to meet the demands of work. But, Id rank my most recent conflict as bad as a death in the family at Christmastime. In hindsight, I should have scheduled myself a few days of vacation for the week a group of students from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, opted to spend their Spring Break from classes in serving as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity in Pontotoc.
Barbara told me back in January when the students would be here, and I could have easily blocked off some vacation time in advance. Instead, I gambled on not having a conflict with work and lost. All volunteer groups for Habitat are special and unique, and while I have appreciated the opportunity to associate with many of them, I found the groups from Ft. Wayne, shall I say, more memorable. They made two trips, spring and summer, to Pontotoc last year. At that time, I was able to learn the names of several of them, plus three of them became fans of this newsletter.
This time, I managed to spend a couple of evenings with the students and their leaders and was able to put a name with most of the faces that were also here last year, but I didnt learn the name of a single new face. However, if time permits and should some of them return to Pontotoc, once more, I pledge to do better.
With respect to work, my schedule, for the week after the students were here, has been worse, in that Ive been away from home five nights. Thus, I asked Barbara to write her remembrances of all that transpired last week with the volunteer group. Her article and a poem follow:
Ft. Wayne Volunteers
April 2, a double crew arrived from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. These students are from two Catholic schools, Bishop Dwenger High School and Bishop Leurs High School. Casey Ryan, a theology teacher at Bishop Dwenger organized the trips and stayed in touch with me from early in the year with updates concerning their trip. We agreed on a team of 14 again, as had been done on the two previous visits. After a phone call from Casey, inquiring if it would be ok if they brought two vanloads (28) and could we handle that size a group, I asked Bro. Joe Steen, my construction supervisor, and he said we couldnt handle more than 14 volunteers. We simply did not have enough work for them.
I suggested that maybe one of the other Habitat affiliates in North Mississippi might be able to use a team and started checking with some of my contacts. Donna Jarrell, Executive Director of the Northeast Mississippi Habitat Affiliate in Tupelo, said, "Sure, we can use them." So we started making arrangements.
We planned for the entire group to stay in Pontotoc at a facility at By-Faith Baptist Church, where there would be plenty of room for them. Donna agreed to help provide some of the meals, and lined up meals for Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I took care of Tuesday and Thursday. Because of an earlier commitment I was unable to go with the group to First United Methodist Church in Tupelo, on Monday evening, but I understand that they had a wonderful meal and lots of good fellowship.
Tuesday evening a group from Usher Valley United Methodist Church at Algoma brought food to By-Faith for the group. The church group had several of its members there to serve and enjoy the meal with the group. There were multiple desserts, including a Glenda Corley birthday cake for Bro. Joe Steen and Anthony, one of the volunteer leaders. Someone had brought two large peach cobblers, one of which was finished off at the meal and the other left for the students to enjoy later in the week.
Wednesday night we went back to Tupelo to All Saints Episcopal Church for dinner. Northeast Mississippi Habitat for Humanity has partnered with All Saints to build a house on the Church grounds for the membership to use for storage or classroom space during a building program at the Church. Once the Church gets its facility ready for occupancy, the Habitat Affiliate will move the house to a Habitat site and complete it for a partner family.
Wednesday evening, of course, was another delicious meal for our group and the church members. Thursday night was back in Pontotoc for the evening meal. After the volunteers returned from a day off, we caravanned to McDonald United Methodist Church. These fine folks had tables set up in their fellowship hall with about three long tables lining the walls laden with food. A separate bar area off the kitchen held about twenty different desserts. We ate fried chicken, ham, spaghetti, peas, beans, creamed potatoes, corn, greens, tomatoes, various relishes, rolls and cornbread. Some went back for seconds, but then we had cakes, pies (sweet potato and pecan), cheesecake, congealed salads, punchbowl cake, fruit, and banana pudding, a true Southern spread.
Friday afternoon about 4:00 p.m., the skies grew dark. Storms had been predicted for the northern part of the State, so I was watching the weather pretty closely. I called Bro. Joe to see how things were at the job site and found out they were putting tools away and cleaning up the site to head in for the day. I went home to watch the weather situation on TV, and I watched it grow worse each minute. The tornado sirens started going off about the time I had planned to leave to head back to Tupelo for our final meal together and a closing ceremony with the volunteers. About 5:20 p.m. the rain seemed to have eased up somewhat, so I went by to pick up Bro. Joe. I was glad to have someone riding with me to the site, back at the First United Methodist Church facility in Tupelo. Just as we pulled into the church parking lot, storms started up again. We hurried inside and watched the weather bulletins and area maps on the TVs located inside the fellowship area.
Donna had arranged with a local restaurant to provide us with catfish, slaw, hushpuppies, and French fries. She and her mom had prepared desserts of banana pudding and Mississippi Mud cake. You may have noted that we had banana pudding several times during the week, but this particular group loves banana pudding. The last time they were here we even gave them recipes to take back home, because some of them had never had banana pudding before.
All week we heard comments like, "This food is so-o-o good. We dont have good food like this in Ft. Wayne."
One of the students purchased a dictionary on his day off. He was showing it to me and asking me for help in pronunciation. The dictionary was "How to Speak Southern". From what they said during the week, they love to hear us talk.
At the closing ceremony we played Habitat Jeopardy, as we had done with the students from Maine, but this time we had two big teams, the Pontotoc Team vs. the Tupelo Team, with about 15 on each team. The Tupelo Team won, because in Final Jeopardy the Pontotoc Team risked everything and the Tupelo Team only risked $2.59. We had fun and hopefully learned something about Habitat from the game. Prizes were distributed to the winning team and consolation prizes were presented to the other team. (No money winnings was involved, just points.)
For our closing ceremony, we then gathered around with some of the students sitting on the floor, others sitting on sofas in the activity area. I asked them to share about the week with us and some of their experiences.
The Tupelo team had started on a new house on Tuesday at the All Saints Episcopal Church. Ben, one of the Tupelo Team members, mentioned that it was just awesome to see one wall go up, then two, then three, and finally four, followed by the roof, all in one weeks time. He was impressed that so much could be accomplished in that amount of time by a team of student volunteers.
One of the girls said, "I didnt know what I could do when we came down, but someone showed us how to do the work, even showed us how to use the power tools, and trusted us to use them. It was fun."
There was, as always, the mention of how great the Southern hospitality had been. Kai said, "On the way to the job site there was a fire truck behind our van. I turned around and waved at the fireman driving the truck, and the fireman waved back. That just doesnt happen in Ft. Wayne."
The ceremony ended with the distribution of goody bags, containing t-shirts and memorabilia of the area, lots of hugs and promises to come back next time. The Ft. Wayne crews loaded into their vans and Bro. Joe and I loaded my materials into my car and headed back to Pontotoc.
Father Tim Murphy was waiting for the group at St. Christopher for a Friday evening Mass before their trip back home. I had also agreed to attend the Mass with the group, so we needed to get back to Pontotoc. Another storm system was moving into the area about the time we left and driving was quite treacherous along Hwy 6 between Tupelo and Pontotoc. We arrived safely, but lightening flashed and thunder boomed amid the Mass service.
Our final good-byes were said in the foyer of the Church, and then they left for By-Faith and an early Saturday morning departure, and I for home and a good nights sleep.
Some of these teens will be heading off to college, some are leaving the Ft. Wayne area, and I may not see them again soon, but some hopefully will be back. I like for my children to come back home occasionally.
This is one of the best parts of my job, but it takes quite a bit of time coordinating everything for the groups. I get a great blessing from these groups that come and help us.
There was an old woman who worked for Habitat
There was an old woman who worked for Habitat.
Still they come from towns far and wide,
Iowa, Illinois, and Maine, to name a few,
Not once, not twice, but three times now,
Theres still an old woman who works for Habitat.
B.C. 2006 A.D.
Note: Additional pictures of Ft. Wayne students and leaders can be found
Heavenly Rest What's In Your Heaven
An elderly couple, both in their eighties, climbed the steps to the porch in order to enter the north door of the sanctuary. I greeted them as they approached Terry Butler and me along the sidewalk. Terry makes a practice of escorting the wife up the stairs as her husband holds the handrail and uses his cane for support. Both the husband and his wife maintain a cheerful disposition, in spite of the aches and infirmities that beset the elderly. Often our brief exchange involves words of thanksgiving for the weather and for health that allows us to continue to do the things that comprise life.
Last Sunday, I heard the wife mention how she was looking forward to rest in the life to come. I think its only natural for the elderly to look to a time when the cares of this life and all the things we call work are behind no more. The Bible is filled with images of Heaven and I imagine most Christians have an idea of what they expect in Heaven. For some, its the ability to sing in the heavenly choir, or simply to praise God, endlessly. Others long for a glorified body, in which pain, affliction, and every imperfection is corrected, as there will be none who are blind, deaf, lame, diseased, or impaired in any way.
Jesus told his followers that he would leave them, but that He was going to prepare a place for them. Jesus described a heavenly home with many rooms; sometimes "many rooms" is translated as "many mansions." Thus, many believers look forward to having "a mansion, just over that hilltop" of song.
As for me, Ive got a ton of questions that Id like someone to answer when I get to Heaven. Of course, I have no idea whether anything that perplexes me today will be remembered when I get to Heaven. And, if Heaven is half as glorious as the Bible describes it, then theres a good possibility that the knowledge and understanding of my earthly existence will be complete, as another song states, "we will understand it better by and by." And, Ill just know, without having to ask anybody.
It was when I heard the elderly wife mention rest in Heaven, that I was reminded of the possibility that rest, especially as we think of it, wont exist in Heaven. Jesus was criticized by the religious leaders of his day when he healed someone on the Sabbath day, as he was likewise criticized for allowing his disciples to gather grain to eat on the Sabbath. In the latter case he explained to his critics that the Sabbath was made for man, rather than man having been created for the Sabbath. In the former, Jesus told the religious leaders, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."
In my view, if the Father and the Son are both working, chances are the rest of us will be working, too. Somehow, I dont see a triune deity continually working while we Christians rest on our laurels. Sure, there may be times of rest in Heaven, but I dont expect rest to be a significant part of eternity.
Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts on this subject as well as other expectations of the life which is to come.
Bodock Beau Grandma's Apron
Cousin Ken shared the following sentiment via email. It harks from a simpler time, one that many a reader will remember.
I don't think our kids know what an apron is.
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.
And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that "old-time apron" that served so many purposes.
Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to
Ken Gaillard, Albuquerque, NM
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