Friday, July 11, 2008

"One Shovelful at a Time"

Wow! Can I just say we have, once again, been overwhelmed by God's goodness, blessings, and provision! We just finished with our home church of Bethel Worship Center in Camden, SC. Let me just put a small plug in here...if you do not have a church home and you are anywhere in the Columbia, Camden, Sumter area and are looking for a church you must at least visit Bethel. I know you may be thinking, "that is a long way to drive" or "with gas prices so high it is not worth the cost" but I will tell you that you are wrong! We lived in Columbia and we drove the 50 minutes each way and we were never disappointed. I would dare to say that even with the gas prices here, $5.75 per gallon of regular I would still pay the price to drive if I were in SC. They are family to us and they receive everyone that comes in the door the same regardless of age, gender, what you wear or how you look... you are a child of the living God and they will love on you just as He does! I don't know what we would do without them, their support and prayers.

Now back to the story...we were blessed to have 25 of them come and stay with us for 8, no 9 days (more on that in a minute). Even after living all together (all 30 of us) in our home here and sharing 3 bathrooms, braving the heat, traveling together 1 hour and 35 minutes each way in a guagua to and from Restoration Ranch we managed to still love each other. =) It probably helped that we were in air condition on the bus which was a good thing after we spent the day sweating while laboring in the hot sun. =)

They had asked us for a "wish list" full of items that are difficult if not impossible to find here, or they cost just too much to even think about buying. Well, once again our Bethel family worked together to fill not one or two of those wishes but filled then ALL and then added items of their own like a new DeWalt tool set. Those of you who know me (Melynda) know that I love tools! They brought us a shop vac which also has been put to use a few times. And just when we thought they were done and we were already speechless they pulled out a new laptop...better and with more memory than the one that was stolen in May. I am still shaking my head in amazement! God's word is true...He says that that which is stolen from you will be returned 7 fold and He did just that! Actually I think it was much more than 7 -fold.
We are so proud of each member...let me see if I can name them here - Pastor Casey, Leland, Eric, John, Russ, Brent, Les, Terri, Karen, Brenda, Kaleigh, Kirstin, Briana, Maggie, Brittany, Helen, Travis, AJ, Josh, Andrew, Jeremy, Brice, Trisha, Jessica, and Kalyn. Whew, that's a mouthful. They were able to accomplish so much in one week that we are still astounded. Here is how the Ranch was blessed by their hard work: (enjoy the photos posted throughout this entry)
~They repaired a lopsided and sinking outdoor sink
~Placed shower rods and curtains in two bathrooms of what we call "the little house"
~Installed two ceiling fans under the gazebo - helps keep flies off of your food. =)
~Built the framework for a concrete ceiling to be poured so we can build a second floor
~Purchased a rebar cutter (which has already saved us thousands of dollars in labor already)
~Fixed the air-conditioning in our car
~Fixed several plumbing issues in the house.
~Cleaned up all of the remaining rubble, dirt, broken block and such from in front of the first building by loading it one shovelful at a time into a wheelbarrow and wheeling over to fill the footers of the second building. We got smart by the 3rd day we rented a Bobcat to help us out.
~And last, but not at all least, dug a huge hole for the septic tank. When I say huge I mean HUGE! It was over 7 feet deep and 24 feet long by 12 feet wide. Greg and I had hoped that the Haitian workers that were hired would finish or at least get close to finishing it before Bethel arrived but they kept quitting and walking out saying the job was too hard. It says a lot when Haitians, who are not really welcomed into this country with open arms and who do just about anything to make money and eat only rice and beans or rice alone just to survive and stay here rather than go back to Haiti, walk away from a job that was paying them and housing them because it was "too hard". It shows the tenacity that our team had in order to come in when the hole was not even a foot deep and dig it out to completion. On the last day they were able to put in the rebar and pour the cement flooring in the bottom which Pastor Casey then carved the initials "BWC 2008" into and said he hoped he never saw the bottom of it again. Hahaha They worked all day, everyday to get that hole dug it became known as "the pit of despair". It sounds horrible and while it was, it was also a place of much laughter, strengthening (both physically and spiritually), and friendships deepened just as the hole did. Greg continually brought relief to those digging in the hole with his comic relief. I just love that man! =)

I also want to share something very special with you that came out of that time in the hole, it is something that still brings tears of sorrow mixed with tears of thankfulness and joy to my eyes as I type it. Pastor Casey shared this with us the last night we had a time of devotion and sharing. He said that the Lord spoke to him clearly and audibly while he was digging and he climbed out of the hole and tried to write it down as fast as he could. Here is what the Lord said to him regarding Restoration Ranch...
“In this place I (God) will break off generational curses. Where there were generations of hatred, they will be replaced with generations of Love. Where there were generations of abuse, I am going to replace it with generations of grace and compassion. Where there were generations of ignorance and illiteracy, I am going to replace it with generations of knowledge and understanding. Where there were generations of despair, I am going to replace it with generations of hope. Where there were generations of incarceration, I am going to replace it with generations of freedom and deliverance.”
***That alone makes all of the pain and soreness from all of the work worthwhile.***

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