I’m writing this on Saturday morning. We leave tomorrow morning for a week in Mississippi and I won’t be able to post from there. I tell myself that there’s someone out there who would actually notice a Wednesday without words of wit and wisdom from me. But I do have a few so I’ll leave them for my daughter to post on our regular day. That’s a kind of risky prospect itself because there’s no telling what she might add or delete just to make up for all the times I wouldn’t buy her gum at the grocery store.
After my posting of last week about the state fair and what an expert I am in the food category I was validated when we went on Thursday. I had left Beaven and Elizabeth to look at cars and told them I would meet them in the food building. I’m sure it has a better name now and anyone who understands what I mean when I say “the Electric building” is showing their age. I am not THAT old but I do remember when the fair had an entire building devoted to electrical appliances. I guess in 1936 when it was built, electricity was still a novelty but even while I was growing up in the 50’s it was still called that.
Anyway, there I sat. And I must have reeked of wisdom. I must have radiated like I possess all the knowledge in the world because a man walked up to me and asked me where he could buy onion strings. That could have been because I was eating some (as well as a bit of Baklava and a coke) but I like to think I just looked like I knew what I was doing. And, once again, I knew that I knew exactly how to tell him to find onion strings: “Go to Big Tex and stand in front of the Fletchers Corny Dog stand facing Big Tex. The onion strings will be about 50 feet to your right.”
I tell you, I’m good at this. I may have found my niche. You put me around food and I appear as the accomplished gourmet of all things fried that I am. I look like I know what I'm doing because I do. It’s a shame they don’t pay people for this talent. It reminds me of the way native Brits will stop Beaven in London and ask him how to get somewhere and which tube station they should use. This has happened more than once. And here’s the amazing thing: he knows how to direct them to where they want to go. It’s all that time he spends back home in East Texas studying the maps. Afterwards, we wonder if they notice his Texas accent when he’s talking to them. But they never say. And they always walk off in the direction he tells them to so they must trust his directions.
We’re just a couple of old geeks who possess a niche of mundane talents that are totally useless in any economic sense.
Anyway, back to our trip- we’ll be going back to Pearlington, Mississippi for another week of rebuilding houses blown away by Hurricane Katrina. I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends from Dorchester Presbyterian in Summerville, South Carolina. I shared the camp with them in February during one of my solo trips. This is the church that includes Diane Lodge, the chick I worked with installing toilets at Shirley Thompson’s house. We made the perfect partners. Diane could lift a toilet by herself and once I sat on the toilet and set the wax ring using nothing more than sheer weight, we knew Shirley’s toilet was there forever. It was another moment when a hidden talent of mine, having a big butt, was put to good use. I think it was Fredrick Buechner who said something like where the world’s need and my greatest talent meet, there lies my ministry. I’m just loaded with ministry.
I stayed in touched with a couple of people from the congregation and we decided to arrange to work the same week this fall. One of the guys from their church had the nerve to challenge our team from Texas to a Barbeque Cook-Off. Jason did this without knowing our church owns a professional size smoker and harbors our own "smokemeister." I'm not sure the average Presbyterian church takes their BBQ this seriously but we have matched our congregation's talents to our community's needs. We call this our "hickory smoke ministry." Periodically we will roll the smoker out and have a church picnic on the grounds for all of Garland, Texas to see. I'm sure Jesus would approved whole-heartedly.
I’ll be back next week with stories.