Thursday, September 17, 2009

Camp Love Mission Blog: Productivity and Progress

Today was a good day. The frustration of having a big job, but limited ways for folks to help was cured today as the whole team was able to finish laying the floor. The large, front room was finished yesterday, and today we were able to run the floors all the way back and into both bedrooms. It was hard work, but good work. The team in the bathroom laid the subflooring for the vinyl tile, and we even hung a door. This place is really starting to come together. The only problem was that we had three teams with three saws, and only one extension cord to supply electricity. We did a lot of standing and waiting for power, but that’s where the magic happens.

Jerry was back with us today, as were his chickens. They had the run of the yard and got brave enough to join us on the front porch. Unfortunately, the sound of the circular saw didn’t encourage them to stay. They clucked around and rolled in the mud, pecking feed off the ground. We made lots of “free range” jokes. In the meantime, their Rooster brother stayed in his pen. Deeply frustrated, he crowed and moaned through most of the day. Around 2:30 he decided it was time for us to wake up and began crowing in earnest.

Because the chickens were such a focal point today, we also heard about the time earlier this summer when a coon got into the chicken coop. Apparently, racoons will grab the chickens by the neck, pull their heads off, and leave their headless, ravaged corpses in the corner. (Happy eating!) One well-meaning group of volunteers was there that week and, thinking that there had been fowl play (I’m sorry. I had to do it.) on Jerry’s behalf (they thought he didn’t feed them enough, and the chickens performed a re-enactment of “Alive” on one another). But, these chickens had not been victims of their own Donner Party-esque death, which Jerry explained to the police when they showed up.

Because we were with Jerry, we got to hear more of his thoughts on life, math (”What’s the area of a cone?!” He barked at one of our GA Tech grads), cars and, mostly, relationships. Jerry’s had two failed marriages that still cause him pain. It’s a topic of great importance to him – both in how much he loved his wives and how difficult his marriages were. He claims that someday, he’s going to write a book called “How to Lose Your Spouse: One Easy Step!” (he didn’t specify which step that might be). And, in a lighter moment, he preached to us: “Paul said, ‘I have a thorn in my side.’ Well I’ve got a pitchfork in my back!” He finally conceded, in a softer moment: “I love women; there are my favorite thing on God’s earth! But, my wives both said the same thing: I love you but I can’t live with you. Now that’s just shame talking.” Poignant words from a man so wounded.

Rob, pastor at Tate UMC, gave the devotion this morning. In it, he reminded us that every time we attend a mission trip, we are given the opportunity to see the face of Christ in the people we come to serve. In Jerry, we have met a new dimension of that face. He is, in his own words, “A little bit crazy, but pretty smart.” He is a theologian and mathematician. He is a father and a parent (to him, there is a difference). He is a gardener and a chef. He is a polymath from Mississippi who never let his college education (yes, he has one) re-define him as a southerner who is resourceful in his own way. This picture of Christ that we meet in Jerry is funny and sincere, earnest and kind. He remembers all of our names, and seems to know us in ways we can’t fully appreciate.

We will always carry this picture of Christ with us – the man with the worn out shoes, the broken chair, the plucky chickens, and a large family, whom he loves dearly.

Blessings, all.

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