Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Easter in Pearlington

Everybody survived the great Chicken Pox Experience but I’m afraid they wouldn’t let me take pictures. It was a fairly quiet time with two adults who felt generally horrible. No stories there.

But I’ve returned from Mississippi, the great state that takes forever to type, not to mention the little song I have to sing while I’m typing, so in order to save time, I will avoid typing the state’s name from this point.

I had a really great time and I’ve decided that I am a sort of “turtle” person. I simply love to travel around taking my home with me as I go. Almost the minute I got home from You Know Where, I started mentally packing for my next trip.

Because I was a mission “team” of one, I got to have a tent all to myself and I took advantage of it. I spread out and made shelves out of the other two cots. By a stroke of luck I scored the special mattress I had the last time. It had been left in camp long ago and I’m sure I’m not the only grateful recipient of whatever tent it’s left in. I think it’s a Tempurpedic or something very close because it made the metal camping cot into a heavenly cloud of sweet dreams. That is, until the night the cheap watch I bought for $4.84 at Wal-Mart went off. Somehow the alarm got set to go off in the middle of the night and rang every five minutes and I couldn’t figure out how to stop it. I finally stepped out of my tent and threw it as far as I could into the drainage ditch that ran beside my tent. After that, I slept as good as at home.

I figured out if you have four lanterns you can shine them on the white ceiling and have enough light to read by at night. I also brought our portable DVD player so most nights I watched a few episodes of Boston Legal in my cot at night.

I was in camp when two shifts of church teams came and went. Before Easter I shared the camp with a church from South Carolina and a couple of churches from Philadelphia. After Easter weekend two groups came in from San Francisco and Los Angeles. The South Carolina people were so friendly that I felt like I’d known them forever. I partnered up with them mostly because they worked on Shirley Thompson’s house. Shirley and I were old friends and it was special for me to continue working on her house. I helped moved the twelve-foot sheets of wallboard into Shirley’s house back in October when she barely had walls. Now we were installing her cabinets and bathroom utilities.

You get a real proprietary feeling once you’ve put up sheetrock in someone’s house. I took pictures of the closet Emily put up in October to show her that the wall was still there and what it looked like painted. And I must say it was a magnificent closet even if it was my daughter who did it.

And I got to see my first completed house. Unless you’ve done this work you can’t imagine how great it feels to see Ron and Beverly Sims actually living in their house.

They had invited the PDA staff to their house for Easter afternoon. I was thrilled when Ron remembered me, especially when he remembered the work I did in January and took me to see ‘my” closet that I dry-walled by myself. It looked as good as Emily’s.

At Shirley’s house with the South Carolina team, one group laid the hard wood floor in her back room while another installed the electrical and plumbing fixtures. It’s a lot of fun to work with electricity and plumbing in a house that’s not connected to electricity or water. We didn’t have to worry about getting electrocuted or having water leak everywhere. And there was no way to test our work so we just told ourselves that we’d done it correctly.

And I discovered a natural talent I possess that I’d always thought was my greatest flaw. When you are installing a new toilet and need as much weight as you can get to properly set it on the wax ring, that’s when someone with a lot of weight around their sitting area comes in handy. I wonder if I could use talent this on American Idol or something.

Here I am with Diane Lodge, a physical therapist from South Carolina. She is just about the strongest women I know and could lift a toilet by herself and with ease. Between her strong back and my fat butt we made a great toilet installation team.

It was a real treat to see Shirley Thompson and be able to work on her house. Every time we completed an installation of a cabinet or mirror we called her in to see what we had done. She spent time with us while we put in the bathroom vanity and lighting...even the toilet paper holder. Not many people have a custom installation of their toilet paper holder, but we had her sit and stretch out her hand so we could put it exactly where she wanted it. You couldn’t ask for a more customized house than that.

Here we are sitting on the side of her bathtub.

I had been wondering where I would celebrate Easter. I have to admit that one of the many reasons I went back to Pearlington over Easter was to avoid church back home where I knew I would be expected to wear something nice on Easter Sunday, preferably something new, and, at the very least, something that fit me. Just thinking about it made me tired. So I escaped to a work trip where paint splattered blue jeans were the expected attire. I figured I could get away with wearing nice slacks if I was in the middle of a mission/camping trip.

So when Shirley invited me to worship at her church on Easter I accepted. Then she invited me to have Easter lunch with her. Wow, I thought to myself, a good old-fashioned Southern style Easter supper! How was I supposed to know when I accepted with gusto that she took her mother out to a Chinese buffet every Easter? One thing you can say for going to a Chinese restaurant on Easter in Mississippi is that it’s not crowded.

I have a few more words on spending Easter week in mission. In fact, I had a major theological breakthrough. But I’ll close now and begin writing for next Wednesday. I want to give myself a week to write about it and make sure the words line up in just the right order.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,
As an attempt to hold on to the experience, and now memories, of my time in MS, I have been reading your blog -- waiting for an update on your Easter celebration! I'm glad you had a warm day with the Thompsons. I am now going to have to sit back and patiently twiddle my thumbs until you spill the beans about your theological breakthrough. Seminarians like myself always find their heartrates jumping when someone mentions anything theological!
I hope you're well. I'm planning on baking the special cookies for a party coming up. Peace to you, Emily Wilmarth (Philadelphia/Germantown/Princeton!)