Monday, March 21, 2011

DR: The Work

Monday morning the neighboring roosters started crowing around 4am. We rolled out of our bunk beds around 6:30 for breakfast and our work assignments. Because there were so many of us (about 70 total) there were plans for 12-15 different projects going on around camp and the neighboring community. The camp superintendent, Joey, read brief descriptions of each of the projects and the number of people he would like for each one--then left it up to us to self-assign.

The projects ranged from landscaping to digging drainage ditches or sanding and painting to concrete block work. As we all sat and listened I tried to keep an open mind. I really had my heart set on working on the home pictured in the previous post. It seemed like something so noble and meaningful--providing shelter to a needy family. I really thought it would be a very clear memory for my children to take away.

They also described a project of building a whiffle ball field that set my baseball lovin' R's eyes ablaze. He got his heart SET on that project.

Ultimately, it was decided we should work on building three stone and mortar paths in areas that were previously grass. It was safe within the confines of camp--in a very central location which allowed the children to run and play somewhat freely when they grew tired of work--and instead of operating power sanders and lifting concrete blocks, they could participate more fully with spades, rakes and buckets.

The children were visibly disappointed. Building paths seemed far less exciting than some of the other options. (I shared a bit of their letdown initially) It turned into an unexpected teaching opportunity (for them and for me) about an import aspect of serving: putting aside what you want to do in favor of what needs to be done and what you have been called/assigned to do.

It wound up being a GREAT, age appropriate (and back-breakingly strenuous for the adults) project. There were no tillers or cement mixing trucks--just good ole fashioned manual labor with pick axes, rakes, buckets and shovels. We worked hard.
The kids participated a bit here and there--but they are young and their ability/attention spans only went so far. Nonetheless, I do think they feel that they contributed.

On the 3rd work day, when we reached the point of pouring the concrete, my hubby suggested we gather all the children and have them write verses in the wet cement. We chose ones that had to do with God guiding our paths.

Ultimately, it would be unseen--stones were to be placed over it--yet the act of doing it was very meaningful. The children took great pride in making their 'marks' in a lasting way.
And the wet cement of my heart was certainly marked by the memory.

What a lasting reminder to me about growing up...laying a firm foundation...marking hearts with truth in ways that may not always be visible, but are underneath and will stand the test of time. It is after all, the way God is parenting me.

I felt like a parenting failure many, many times on this trip. It was stressful. We were all out of our environment and our routine. The food was a real challenge for my children. I wanted to 'make' memories and 'teach' lessons. I got so tangled up in my intentions that I think I missed some of what God could have taught me. I wish I could go back and 'lighten up' a bit.

And yet, our gracious God wrote on the cement of my heart anyway. I am thankful that He gets the glory for any good that came from this trip, not sinful, neurotic me. It is amazing the way He works--amidst or sin, our issues, our failures. I am grateful for His patience and His grace.

Lord, may my heart be open to the truth of your Word. Make your mark on me like wet cement.


Cathy said...

You are an amazing mother! Don't ever sell yourself short in what I would've, could've should've done. God filters so much to let our children see, know and feel what they should. We just have to be Mothers all the time. You're doing a wonderful job!

Peter and Nancy said...

Thanks for posting in detail about your trip! I'm really appreciating the virtual tour of the DR. I wonder how many of the students who were on the trip will remember watching you parent . . . I am sure God was using you in ways you never suspected.