Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Mission Summer

It was different to have Beaven go on a mission trip this time with me staying home to keep the home fires burning. Well, except I’m not supposed to do any fires without adult supervision since the year I burned up the pasture. Twice.

Beaven returned home from Mexico right on time. He was a little sunburned, had cement burns on his arms, a little sore and happy to be able to sleep in his own bed. Cement burns are a little known and underappreciated by-product of this kind of work. The chemical reaction of water mixed with cement causes a really caustic material. When mixed it’s the texture of a milk shake and oozes into your shoes. And since you usually are standing in the stuff to mix it there’s plenty opportunity to get it in your shoes. Then the sand and gravel rub this stuff into your skin every time you move. Most people working with it get burns the first day. They go back the next day with band-aids but the band-aids get wet and fall off almost immediately. The people who catch the empty buckets after they’re emptied get spots of these burns on their faces and arms—wherever the stuff lands and stays for a while.

And that’s the reason the team goes to South Padre Island on their last day of the mission trip. It’s not so much for the luxury of the beautiful beach as it is for the healing properties of the salt water.

In five days they poured two foundations, two roofs and one floor. Foundations and floors are different. And a concrete roof is the hardest. Beaven said it was harder since they had to take buckets of concrete 10 feet up in the air. Foundations looked much easier to me. But the group got to go back to the project we worked on last year when I was with them. We poured two floors last year and each one took all day. It was nice to see Beaven’s pictures of the rooms finished and moved into. The building we worked on was to be (and is now) dormitories for volunteers. Except our group doesn’t stay there at the church compound—we stay on the US side in another church, an Air-Conditioned church. I can’t imagine sleeping without AC in the summer.

If I didn’t have photos to prove he wasn’t on some tropical vacation without me I still would have known what he was doing simply from doing his laundry when he got home. There is cement in my washer, dryer and anything that shared a load with his jeans and t-shirts. I have cement sand in the dryer vent and all of his jeans still had a rim of concrete around the cuffs--and that's after they've been through the washer and dryer. It reminds me of my old roommate, Betty Sue, who lives in West Virginia. She married a coal miner and she makes him take his clothes off at the back door where she has a separate washing machine just for his work clothes.

July 4th is coming up and I can’t wait. The grandkids are old enough now to really enjoy fireworks and are looking forward to our long weekend together. Soon, it will be time to line up at the fireworks stand we have here in town. They set it up on the parking lot there at the gas station, Joe Bob’s #2. Yes, fireworks at the gas station. Remember this is rural Texas.

There’s not much else to report. I thought I had finished my book and announced this to my friends with delight. Then I made the mistake of reading it over. I’m back at the drawing board now. It still needs to be tweaked a bit. It reads like I was more relaxed writing the second half than the first. That has to mean something.

Then in a couple of weeks I will be headed off to Tulsa University (July 12-18) for the Synod Youth Workshop. I won’t be able to post from there unless things get calm enough. Actually, they might. For the first time ever they are giving the staff access to the internet connections in the dorm rooms. So I could post if I have time and it looks like I might. I have a dream job this year: I am in training. Thank you, Jesus. I don’t have to do a damned thing this year. I just have to watch how Sherry Holloman does the service projects and then take the responsibility for them next year. I don’t want to gloat too much about my easy week since I’m a firm believer that God hears everything we say and God has a sense of humor. So pretend I didn’t say that just now.

Synod Youth Workshop is my favorite week of the year, hands down. It beats Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day and my birthday. It beats trips to Europe. It’s just more fun and more rewarding than anything else I do all the rest of the year. It’s part revival, rock concert, mission trip, and group therapy with a little bible study thrown in. Since I started going to this retreat in 1991, it has become the focus of my year. Everything I do the rest of the year is done with this in mind. I usually go into a comprehensive physical program to get in shape for it since it’s very physically demanding. I try to walk a few miles and move around a lot more in the weeks ahead. I do not, however, practice staying awake until the wee hours of the morning. I have to draw the line somewhere and there’s always the chance of a miracle and the kids will be tucked in bed on time every night. Seven days of dorm food-- Doesn’t it sound great?

Which reminds me—I’ve got to go walk. I can tell you more about it next week if we all make it through July 4th without a hospital admission.

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