One of the most irritating things about leaving a worksite after a week is taking inventory of the tools. Imagine having your tool box out, along with those of two of your friends, and having 15 people who aren’t really sure what’s the difference between a wrench and a set of pliers, or what a “ball peen” is, rooting through your box looking for that thingamajig that Pastor Dave is yelling about from the top of the ladder. By the end of the week, my tools and Tim’s tools and the worksite tools are pretty commingled. It happens.
Yesterday as we packed up, I made one final look through the shed, and I saw it – actually, I told the kids that I heard it calling to me. In a bucket, there in the corner, was the hammer that I got when my dad gave me my grandfather’s tool box a lifetime ago. “Grandpa’s hammer!” I yelled to the kids. “You almost forgot Grandpa’s hammer! And then it would have to live in New Jersey! Nooooooo!”
(You might find this difficult to believe, but I tell the kids stories about the tools that we use, the way that they’re used, and other people who have used them while we work. Me. Talking. Telling stories. Hard to imagine, right?)
Fortunately, my young friends gave grandpa’s hammer the respect that it deserves and it’s back in the toolbox with its mates, awaiting further adventures.
I was thinking about that last evening as Tim led the kids through a study of his favorite verse, Proverbs 22:6, which reads “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” In a very eloquent exploration of this passage, Tim compared our lives to the collections that we all have at home – some of us have shells, or rocks, or gardens, or animal skeletons… But the point is, all of us keep stuff. All of us collect something in the thought that “this’ll come in handy, or bring me joy, or be useful at some time.”
Tim’s point was that our lives are collections – we are given experiences and friendships and opportunities – and it’s up to us to discern what we keep, how we treat it, and and what we do with it. He followed in the path started by Jeff, Marla, and me in encouraging these young people to value opportunities such as those afforded by this trip and these relationships and to take care to remember where God is calling us to be.
Thursday of this week gave us the chance to put a few more items into that marvelous collection of youth group experiences. Our day started out very rough, as communications mix-ups on the part of a couple of our cooperating agencies meant that we were stuck at the job sites for several hours with nothing to do. But one of the beautiful things about this group is that they didn’t let that stop them. They took walks, played frisbee, and visited. They did not moan and groan, but simply waited for the opportunity to arise.
When we finally got the materials we needed, we did all we could to finish the decking and the steps to which we’d been assigned. And, in the course of one short morning, Tim not only learned how to operate a jackhammer, but in fact trained another volunteer group from New Jersey in its operation. It ended up being a good day on the job.
After work, we made our usual pilgrimage to the beach (did I mention it is only 2 blocks away!!!) and enjoyed the surf and a rousing game of beach volleyball. Chinese take out was a new adventure for a few (good thing we had some leftover pizza as a back up!) and our singing was, as usual, rousing. Many of our kids spent the moonlight hours wandering the beach and looking for shells – there was an entire hour Thursday night where I was alone in the church!
It is a good life we’ve been given, and I’m glad to watch these kids be so wise about what to add to their collections this week. Thanks be to God!