Forgive me for being a little late today. Beaven is on the Texas Coast at one of the PDA camps working on hurricane relief. I’m staying home for a change to keep the dogs company. We just couldn’t send them off again after the three weeks we were gone. Plus our main babysitter, Emily, went with him. But besides babysitting the dogs I’m enjoying the peace and quiet. I’ve turned off the TV and every computer I can find, anything that makes the slightest noise. I love the quiet in the house and being able to hear the sounds of the outdoors. I may just go unplug the refrigerator.
Briefly, here is the last thing I have to say about our three weeks in Guatemala:
One of the best things about travelling to places that interest you is the cool people you get to hang around with. It’s the whole Birds of a Feather Flock Together thing. And I always enjoy the birds that flock with me when I travel. We met three or four people in job “transitions.” This was mostly the effects of the economy-- a lot found themselves between jobs and decided now was the time to follow their dream of learning Spanish. We met a recent law school grad who was waiting out the bar exam results and decided since she wanted to specialize in immigration issues she’d better know Spanish. One of our other new friends holds a normal job but harbors an interest in the Mayan Quiche language. So she took a couple weeks of vacation time and came to study at one of the only schools to teach Quiche. Where else would I find somebody who reads novels in Spanish just for the heck of it? Then there were the college or post college students.
All of these people were great for conversation but also injected energy into our surroundings. As tiring as our studies made us, our lives we were always energized by the people around us.
Now, the thing I really wanted to talk about today is all the small talents people have, the tiny things no one even thinks about much but that I’ve decided fall into the category of a “ministry.”
Frederick Buechner once wrote that a “vocation” is the place where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.
A couple of weeks ago Sarah showed up at church with “bad hair” and that is putting it mildly. I think there had been some kind of hairbrush crisis at the house and her grandfather just brought her to church with wet and tangled hair. Plus her hair is so long now that her arms are too short to run a brush the entire length of the hair. I don’t carry a hairbrush because you may have noticed I really don’t care what my own hair looks like. I wasn’t too worried because I knew Emily kept a hairbrush in the Acolyte room. Except that horrible day it was gone. Panic time.
That’s when I thought of Ila Hitt. I’ve know for a while now that Ila routinely brushes the hair of a girl in our church whose mother is chronically ill and can’t do it herself. And we all know how much help a father is with little girls. Ila is one of those women who should have had girls but got a boy instead. That’s one of the things I really think God should put more thought into and I intend to address this situation once I get a face-to-face meeting with the Creator. In the meantime, Ila gets her little girl “fix” at church. It’s a win-win situation.
When I emailed her profuse thanks for her help with Sarah that day she told me where she stashes her hairbrush. I won’t tell you because you would probably go use it and not put it back where it goes and the next time somebody needed a hairbrush it would be gone. The Hairbrush Stash is kind of like good restaurants, you don’t want everybody knowing about them or it will ruin it for the rest of us.
What Ila has found is a very unique but necessary ministry. Brushing hair certainly isn’t the world’s greatest need but it sure helps some people. Once I started thinking this way I found ministry all around our church.
For all her hair problems, Sarah has decided she can help keep the pews well-stocked with pencils. Lord knows where they go, you wouldn’t think of accusing someone of stealing in church of all places but whenever I need a pencil the little pencil holder is empty. Sarah is the perfect person for this job. She loves to run the electric pencil sharpener and is the only person I know who can actually walk through the pews instead of scooching sideways because their butt is too big.
I call my own ministry “the blessing of the cars.” About a year ago I noticed one of our youth showed up for church in a brand new red pickup. Red, for goodness sakes. Just the thought of a red pickup in the hands of a teenager scares me to death. Without putting too much thought to it I went up to Matt and asked him if he’d had that truck blessed. He gave me that look. I grabbed him by the shoulder with one hand, lay the other hand on the truck and prayed my guts out for safety, sanity, sobriety and speed control. It wasn’t a long prayer-about two sentences—but heartfelt. On the way back into the church I asked him if I’d ever told him the story of the time I got a speeding ticket on the way home from a Defensive Driving class.
Last Sunday I blessed two more cars. Nowadays with facebook you get a very clear picture of the amount of testosterone behind the wheel of a brand new car. So I troll facebook and catch the guys on the parking lot.
It’s a ministry.