Up & Around & Back

Friday morning, I headed to Vermont with E and Baby J tucked safely into the back seat. The church I grew up in, Union Baptist Church, was celebrating its Centennial and I really wanted to be there. We stayed with my sister and husband who still live in Vermont, along with my parents who also traveled up for the celebration.

Saturday was a free family carnival. E was ecstatic that there were four (4!) bounce houses – here’s 2:

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My sister and a small team worked tirelessly on a timeline of the church history in conjunction with world events that occurred at the same time. It was huge and well done!

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This is in the gym – you can see how long the timeline was! It was very well done and informative.

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Yup, there’s my family! Yes, that’s me, the little bald baby on the right. I was one when we moved to Vermont and 17 when we left.

Saturday was a nice day of reconnecting with old friends. We haven’t been to Vermont since early 2013 and a few people I hadn’t seen then either, so it’s been awhile! It’s always nice to be back – and always a little surreal. I spent my entire childhood there, yet my entire adult life has been in various other places. But something about Vermont will always always feel like home.

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These were two of my closest friends in high school. We were basically inseparable! Between the three of us, we now have 9 children.

Sunday morning was a big celebration service. {I was proud of my little 5 year old who sat so well during the 2hr service!} The whole service was focused on God’s faithfulness through these 100 years. My dad was invited to come and speak about his time at UBC and the building project he oversaw. The building project took up almost his entire tenure at the church and to this day is still an amazing story. If you don’t know it, some day I’ll sit down and share it with you.

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It was fascinating to hear the church’s history and how, indeed, God has been faithful – over and over – when the church body as a whole was not. God redeemed them, gave them a second chance, and did it all for His glory. I was blessed to be a product of this church and now they are one of our supporters as we do missions work. It’s kind of like coming full circle. Even the pastor they have today was my dad’s associate when I was a little girl, was sent as a missionary to Honduras for many years and then to Texas, and has returned to be senior pastor. Full circle. God is faithful.

I’m very glad I made the time to go. I’m also glad I took my oldest with me and she was big enough to at least hear the stories even if she couldn’t understand everything. She met more people than she probably cares to remember! Yet I’m glad I got to take her with me to experience all of this.

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Before I left for Vermont, I was “missionary of the week” at the CEF Day Camp here at MRF. E was a camper. It was fun, as usual, sharing about missions. This year, I focused on “behind-the-scenes” missionaries and shared precisely what we do within BCM and the importance of MRF.

Meanwhile, Brian was working tirelessly on the home that had the chimney torn down on the work day. The resident was gone for only a week and that was going to be the best time for him to fix the wall, mud, sand, paint, and clean without being a disturbance. After I left with the kids on Friday, he took Big J and they got to work in the house. They put in a full day of work, then ran down to the church to fix a water leak, then over to a friend’s house for supper.

Saturday, they finished cleaning in the home and actually got it done in time! After running more errands, they ran to the airport and got the resident and brought her back to her newly cleaned, fixed-up home.

Sunday during church, Brian got a text from a new friend asking for a ride to southern PA. It was somewhat of an emergency and Brian didn’t even hesitate to say ‘yes.’ The trip took longer than expected, but Big J was rewarded for his patience by a trip to Bass Pro Shops where, surprise surprise!, they had “summer camp”! He got to “go fishing”, shoot a “bow and arrow”, and a BB gun. He had a blast! It was a great way to end the weekend with his dad and a great reward for him being so helpful and patient and not complaining once!

The kids and I got home Monday. We were thankful for little traffic (it’s a 6 hour drive with no traffic and no stops… with two small children, you can imagine it took us a little longer than that!), no road construction, and only one torrential downpour that made us stop for 30 minutes.

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They thought the downpour was hilarious! I did, too – once I was stopped and didn’t have to worry about not being able to see out my windshield!

So, what’s next??

  • Brian is finishing up one bathroom (hopefully yet today) in the pavilion. We really wanted it available for all the summer church picnics happening on the property.
  • July 30-31 we head to Philadelphia to represent MRF at a missions conference. Kiddos will stay with my parents.
  • The end of July we’re joined by two tech interns for BCM. Pray for Brian as details are being worked out right now for what all they will be doing.
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View leaving my sister’s house Monday morning

VBS Weekend

Friday evening, we kicked off our first ever weekend Vacation Bible School with a family carnival.

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It’s been a pretty hot week and they were calling for storms, but we, in faith, set it all up outside anyway. I told my co-workers that it’s pointless to pray for no rain, then live all week like we’re going to get rained out and be all depressed about rain that hasn’t even happened yet. That’s not faith! When I left my house, though, I was a little concerned as it was 4pm (carnival to start at 6) and it was pouring. When I hit the intersection at the interstate, though, literally the rain stopped and sun broke through! We had a gorgeous evening – the weather could not have been more beautiful!

The turnout was awesome – constant flow of people throughout the evening. We also had a Pet Expo going on:

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The theme for VBS was “Pets Unleashed”, so we thought a good way to start it off would be with a free Pet Expo. We actually had vendors calling the church asking for a table, so instead of just four, we had I believe six or seven different organizations or individuals represented. It went over VERY well! We had a beautiful photo op in there for families to get pictures taken with their pets, too:

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Outside, there was a variety of games, including a gaga ball pit and a bounce house:

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We had a VBS table set up in order to preregister families for the event. It worked really well and we had families from the community register – and attend both days!

The entire evening was a huge success.

Saturday morning, we began our VBS –

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Once again, we were wondering about rain! When I arrived at church, it was downpouring, so I quickly came up with a Plan B since one activity was outdoors. By the time staff mtg was done, and before kids began arriving, the rain had cleared and the event went on as planned! I had zero staffing issues and everything ran so smoothly. The kids got to play on the bounce house, climb through a giant tunnel made out of boxes, make a dog toy to give away, sing, walk through the Sermon on the Mount, and make new friends. We ended the morning with a free picnic outdoors for the families and more time on the bounce house. If I’m not mistaken, basically every family stayed for the picnic and returned on Sunday!

Sunday, we actually did part of our lesson during “big church.”

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The Gospel was clearly presented, to everyone at church. It was phenomenally done; I was so proud of my team! We concluded the morning shortly after the worship service ended and the parents were provided coffee and snacks while they waited. I figured parents would be anxious to get their kids and leave, but instead, we had to actually go insist they get their children because they were enjoying fellowshiping so much!

It was an awful lot of work for a very short couple of days. Yet, it was worth it. We know of one little boy who received Jesus as Savior; we’ve been praying for him for two years! While it can be easy to focus on numbers, I keep reminding myself that Jesus will go through great lengths to rescue even one child because that’s how much He loves us! It was all worth it.

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E with her dog toy that will be given to a friend’s dog (the goal with the crafts was for them to be given away to show we care for others).

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Big J in his preschool class. He had a blast! I’m so glad we were able to offer it this year!

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I have the world’s best decorating team. They created this fish tank on a blank wall. Genius!

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Most of the group Sunday morning waiting to begin.

Now that VBS is over, I feel like I can breathe again! Even though it was only a weekend, I’m pretty sure it took just as much prep as a week-long event. Now, I feel like I can think about other things finally!

Here’s what’s on our plate now:

  • I’m the “missionary of the week” at CEF’s Day Camp here at MRF all week. E finally gets to attend; it’s fun being her teacher.
  • Brian is busy repairing a home. During the work day, a chimney was torn down.
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Kids playing while the chimney got torn down behind them during the work day.

It had been falling down, so it HAD to come down, but it took with it part of a wall. Unfortunately, the house is being used, so it must be repaired immediately. The resident is out of town this week only, so he’s in there repairing as quickly as possible an upstairs wall, the roof, and part of the downstairs wall, plus putting in part of a foundation and building a wall/covering for the part of the fireplace that was not taken off outside. Pray for him – it’s a lot to get done in 5 days, alone!

  • Friday, I take E and BabyJ with me to Vermont for the Centennial Celebration of the church I grew up in that my dad pastored at for 17 years. My parents will be heading up on Thursday and we’ll all stay with my sister for the weekend.
  • At the end of the month, Brian and I head to Philly to represent MRF at a church missions conference.
  • Also at the end of the month, Brian will have two interns for BCM living here, helping with tech stuff for BCM.

You can be praying that in between the busy-ness of summer we will have family time. Brian has an awful lot of work to do at MRF that can only be done during the summer months, but he needs wisdom to prioritize the needs and get done what he can.

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Kids playing with our co-worker’s dog.

The {long} 4th Weekend!

Wow, what a great weekend this has been! We are SO tired, yet it was so worth it. Isn’t that normally how it goes?! 

Thursday, we quick packed up the kids in the evening and took them to a park to swim and have a picnic, which was awesome family time considering the next two weeks are slammed for us. Brian worked most of the day Saturday because of this week being short due to the holiday. Spur of the moment, we decided to have friends over Sunday night to celebrate the 4th and ended up being so glad we made that decision!

Sunday evening we had a big group of friends over and cooked hot dogs over a fire, made s’mores, played frisbee, and Brian shot off fireworks for us. A couple of the guys were from London – here playing soccer this summer at Penn State to try to go pro. Another guy was new to church just this Sunday and so we invited him out and were so glad we did. Lots of good conversations happened there. Monday, we spent the day at a new Columbian friend’s house, swimming and eating good Latino food. We finished off our celebrations with fireworks and transplanting sleeping children from the van to their beds!

After my last post about what I do at MRF, a couple really cool things happened. The first was a generous Amazon gift card to buy supplies! Such an awesome surprise! The second happened Monday morning. I went in to do a walk-through of a house that has been full for a solid year. They left Friday and the next family actually arrived today (Tuesday) and will be here for another year. There was no time in between to do any kind of updating to this house and it so badly needed a few things. It really weighed on me, but there was literally nothing I could do about it. The moment I walked in the house, though, I knew something was different. The family had done their own updating for me! And what a beautiful job they did! It was exactly the subtle touches I knew the house needed, but would be unable to do for another whole year. She even put on new chair covers for the dining room chairs (which were this wonderful green velvet…). I was blown away by their generosity. It seriously made my day! So, we welcomed a new family today into this (now!) beautiful home. They have stayed here before and have four children. Looking forward to getting to know them (they haven’t been here since we’ve been on staff).

This weekend is our church’s Vacation Bible School! We kick off Friday night with a Family Carnival and Pet Expo, then VBS is Saturday morning and Sunday during the worship service. It will be a crazy week for our family as Brian has tons to do out here and I will be at the church pretty much every day, a couple times a day, until Sunday.

Starting Monday next week, I am the “missionary of the week” at a Day Camp happening here at MRF. I’ve done this for this camp twice before, so I’m working on coming up with new material for this year! E will attend the camp this year for the first time. As soon as camp is over Friday, I head to Vermont with at least one child to be at the church I grew up in for their Centennial Celebration. After that, I think life will finally slow down. For a couple weeks.

Will you pray with me for the VBS this weekend? Lots of last-minute details and supplies and practices and set-up! I don’t want to forget anything! Pray as well for the kids who will come – that the Gospel will be clearly presented and hearts will be open.

Hospitality & Clean-Up

Way back in Candidate Orientation in 2007, we had to take a spiritual gifts test. Mine ranked highest in “hospitality,” which at the time I didn’t even realize was a spiritual gift! We were encouraged to make use of it, so while we were in Peru, we became one of the guest houses on the property. We had something like 15 people stay in our home during our first year. We loved having people in our home! It was a blast welcoming people to the country and making them feel at home with coffee and brownies.

We also came to see how much we enjoyed talking to people about missions and encouraging them into missions, whatever that looked like for them. Then, after being on the field for awhile, we saw the value in encouraging fellow missionaries. Some of the best encouragement we ever received was from others in ministry and we wanted to be able to pay it forward.

Here at MRF, we encounter missionaries and full-time ministry workers from all over the world, all walks of life, from all sorts of backgrounds and life experiences. Some arrive completely burnt-out and tired. Others are just starting out, energized and excited for what lies ahead. Some are needing a rest – time to be with family, in the quiet, to regroup, shop for supplies, go to the dentist, and head back to the field. Some want constant interaction; some desire to be left alone, in the quiet.

We make it a point to try to greet everyone who comes through and to get to know them as much as we’re able. With some families, it’s more conducive than with others. It’s easier for Brian to meet everyone since he’s out every single day and I’m home with three small children. But, as much as we both can, we make an effort to at least say hello and introduce ourselves. Sometimes we’re able to really make some good friends; other times, we stay barely acquaintances. We try to give people the space they need while being available if they would like that instead.

I have thrown a baby shower, taken women out to breakfast, had moms in my house with their children, counseled about support raising, listened to some crazy stories, and shared advice and encouragement as needed. Brian has done the same with the men – breakfast, encouragement, counseling, a listening ear. Now that I have one child in school and am no longer tied down with a newborn, my goal is to make sure I get to know all the women better and be more available to them.

Every resident who comes through has the responsibility of leaving the houses clean when they check out. We ask that beds be made, linens washed, dishes put away, and fridges cleaned out. However, there are times when families leave from here to other countries and we understand the rush of packing for a life overseas while trying to clean up a home here! It’s crazy stressful! We do our best to accommodate and help out as much as possible. We have basically not had to buy condiments for three years as many residents leave items with us (yellow mustard, anyone? I currently have four bottles and have never actually purchased it in 3 years!). If we know someone is leaving, say early in the morning, and they didn’t have time to do laundry, we’ll do laundry and make beds for them. We always enter the homes after residents check out and double-check that it really is clean (to our standards, which admittedly are pretty high) for the next resident.

Our desire is that no resident who stays here feels like they’re in a second-rate home. Everything is clean, as modern as possible, everything works, and most importantly – it feels like they’re the only ones who have ever stayed there. So, if a house hasn’t been rented for awhile, we enter the day before someone checks in and dust, check the WiFi and TV, turn on the fridge, hot water heater, and heat, and leave it unlocked so they can just go right in. While we both check homes, I am usually the one who does the cleaning and double-checking. Things like broken appliances and mice disposal (we do live in the woods!) fall under Brian’s jurisdiction.

Usually, we don’t need to do much deep-cleaning. It has happened! But thankfully it’s the exception and not the rule. *phew*

One thing I’m slowly working on (it was paused with BabyJ’s appearance!) is updating the homes. They really haven’t changed for a long time and are in need of some modernization. I’d like to put some new bedding in, new artwork, and new furniture and lamps. And by “new” I do mean “new-to-us”! It’s a slow process as sometimes I only have a week (or a day!) in between bookings to get into the houses and change things up. I have to wait until they’re open for a few weeks at least usually. But, as I’m able, I like to update. I’m currently looking for:

  • New bedding, particularly quilts/comforters for twin or queen beds. Plain colors OR fun quilts work best with coordinating (and all our walls are white).
  • Modern artwork. A lot of our pictures are quite old – sceneries that simply look dated (and not the “vintage” dated). I’d like to replace them with prettier, more modern artwork. Colorful, timeless, and a variety of sizes. Some go in children’s bedrooms, others are used in living room spaces.
  • Lamps! Oh, those are hard to come by! Even just lamp shades! A new lamp shade can go miles in updating a tired lamp.
  • We actually have an urgent need for a couple of sofas. They need to be smoke-free, preferably pet-free. Don’t need to be fancy, just comfy.
  • Outdoor toys and balls for kids. All the soccer, basketball, and baseballs are shot and could stand to be replaced. We have a small playground, but most of the little play houses are also at the end of their short lives! It’d be nice to get some new stuff for the kids if possible.

{This wraps up all the different ministries we’re involved in! I hope this helped you understand our life behind-the-scenes at MRF and with BCM. Now maybe you can pray for more specifically for us! If any of it resonates with you and you would like to be a part of our team, contact us! We’d love to chat with you about it if you need more info. Click here for part #1, part #2, part #3, and part #4.}

Maintaining MRF

Becoming a missionary is not a magical transformation once your feet hit foreign soil. It’s a common misconception that “missions” is “easier” overseas – away from home, in a different culture. However, the reality is, if you are not being a missionary “at home”, you will not become one simply due to a change in location. You should be doing it now, here, before you ever transplant yourself over there.

While we are not your “typical missionary”, this concept has still rung true for us. God has simply transplanted us in different countries and different States and we have essentially continued to do what we’ve always done!

Before moving to Peru, Brian was the equivalent to a maintenance director at a Do It Best Lumber in South Dakota – lots of construction, repairs on rental vehicles, helping people out, organization of the store, etc. In Peru, he was the maintenance director at the Bible school – construction, vehicle repair, maintenance on buildings and homes, grounds-keeping… the list could continue. Now, here at MRF, he is – you guessed it! – the maintenance director!

MRF has 10 homes and one efficiency suite. Two homes are staff houses (ours and the director’s).  Two of those homes are duplexes as well (one being, of course, the brand new one that was just finished). Brian’s main role is keeping up with the maintenance on all these homes. We are basically a rental property with everything supplied – linens, cooking supplies, bedding, TV, WiFi, etc. Most of these homes are also pretty old, and with that comes upkeep issues. We do not ask nor expect our residents to keep up on the repairs and fixing problems inside the houses. They call Brian! He does everything from changing light bulbs (yes, we get calls about that!) to fixing clotheslines, broken washing machines and ovens (we replaced 4 ovens in 2 weeks last winter!), and hunting down mice. Then there are the bigger issues – toilets falling through the floors, roofs leaking, holes in the walls, porches falling off, woodchucks living outside the front door…

Brian leaves the house around 9am and works until 5pm, Tuesday-Friday (Monday he’s Dad and home with the kids while I work at the church). If he’s unable to finish his responsibilities during the week, he’ll work an occasional Saturday, at least half of the day. He has enough jobs and things to work on that he is constantly moving and never bored. Each week brings with it new issues and things to look into and fix.

Brian enjoys being available for the missionaries who live here. Many are here only for a few weeks and the houses are not supplied with equipment to fix everything and many of our residents don’t know how to fix stuff anyway (and many have spent most of their lives overseas, so let’s just say, how they may fix things in a tribe in the Philippines is not usually up to code in Pennsylvania!). So, they call Brian. Since he’s also a mechanic, he has saved many residents costly mechanic bills by fixing up their cars as well. With how much traveling they all do, needing to raise support and visit families and churches, their cars need to run well (and many are rented or borrowed for the short time they’re here).

MRF had a website and it worked just fine, but it was time for an update. One of the first things Brian did our first year here was get us a new website on a better domain that’s easier to find when you do a search and easier to navigate and update. If you’ve never seen it, check it out here! Since updating the website and making it come up faster on search engines, we’ve had more applications than usual and stay almost fully booked year-round (which is a big blessing and helps keep the property going). Social media is still not to where it should be, but hopefully that will happen in the near future.

Then, of course you know about all the changes that happened on the property over the course of the last year – the new pavilion and changing the Main House into a duplex with the efficiency suite. For now, that’s the end of the big changes. The other duplex will get an overhaul, but probably throughout 2017. As much as expansion would be wonderful (we usually have more applications than we have room for), that will require extensive clearing of the land and more funds than we have available right now. Some day!

Did you know:

  • MRF is available for your pastor (and his family!) for a get-away! Encourage your pastor to take a brief vacation and sponsor his stay here in the quiet Poconos for a time of refreshment!
  • Our new pavilion is open for church picnics, day camps, retreats, family reunions, parties – you name it! For a small fee, you can rent the pavilion, the large field, and Compton Hall (which includes a large kitchen, rec room/common area, and restrooms) for your next event.
  • If you have a visiting missionary at your church in the area, you can book our suite so they have a private place to stay while they’re here. 
  • We would love to come and present the ministry of MRF to your church! Contact us if this interests you {you do not need to be local for us to do this! MRF is a ministry available to anyone, not just PA residents! We are two hours from both NYC and Philly – a great location for people needing to fly overseas or be close to churches up and down the East coast}.

What do I do at MRF? Well, you’ll just have to wait for next time! 

Read the other aspects of what the Biegerts do! Installment 1, Installment 2, and Installment 3.

BCM Behind-the-Scenes

Installment #3 of “what exactly do you do?”! To read #1, click here; to read #2, click here.

The rest of what we do with BCM can be summed up, really, in three words:

website, representation, and training.

Website: Brian is like the web master – and he absolutely loves it. If you’ve never visited the BCM International website, now’s your chance! Just click here. If you are like me, it may never have occurred to you the hours of work it takes to simply maintain a website so that it’s current and modern. So much is done online anymore (how many of us google every place we’re going, every event we’re attending, before we ever leave the house?), so it’s extremely important to have a good internet presence that is up-to-date! We all know how frustrating it can be to go to someone’s website in order to glean information only to find it was last updated in 2010. That’s not helpful! So, not only did Brian design and build the website, it is his job to keep it current, which is an almost daily activity. You would not believe how often he has to fix glitches, all-out crashes, and keep up with spam and other issues. On top of maintaining the international website, he helps maintain a number of other sites worldwide AND he helps with all the social media accounts. Even mission boards needs to be on social media anymore to get the word out about what’s happening. (Click here to join our Facebook group!) It’s a big job! This summer, he will actually have two interns helping him out for 10 days. These guys are graphic design majors and so Brian will be meeting with the IMC (our headquarters in Lancaster) next week to make the final decisions on what all these guys will do over their short internship. What do I have to do with the website? Nothing but proof-read!:) Every now and then I do some writing for him, but overall, the website is his deal.

Representation: Since we are young and Stateside, it’s relatively easy for us to do some representing for BCM. We attend missions conferences at different universities and when churches call the IMC and ask for someone to represent BCM as a whole, sometimes we’re called up. We love this job and thoroughly enjoy sharing the international ministry with anyone who will listen and encouraging them to join missions, be it with us or someone else.

Training: While website is all Brian, training is all me. As you know, I am a certified “teacher trainer” with BCM which basically means that I can train children’s workers in our program, “In Step with the Master Teacher.” This program is near to my heart and one of my favorite things to do. I have led trainings in North Carolina, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Now that the kids are not so little, I’d love to get back into it and do more training in our area. The difficulty? Convincing people training is a good thing and actually having the opportunities to share this course! Brian’s role in “my” training is keeping the house running while I’m gone! He’s been awesome at getting up early with me on the mornings I need to leave before dawn. He makes sure my coffee is hot, the windows on the car are scraped, and the kids are taken care of before he prays with me and sends me off. He does all my printing and laminating and makes sure I get the rehearsal times that I need with no kids crying at my feet.

These three posts sum up our work within BCM! Next time, I’ll cover what life looks like for us out here at Missionary Retreat Fellowship.

As you read any of this, we humbly ask that you prayerfully consider if maybe God would have you join our team as a financial supporter. Maybe you can identify with one of the roles we have within BCM or the work we do at MRF. Would you join our team and be a part of this ministry? Contact us if we can answer additional questions for you. Even a one-time gift would be greatly appreciated to help get us out of the red. Thank you!

Work Day

The last few weeks out at MRF have been filled with extra help! A work day out here was scheduled for June 25 by the board. A few of the board members, however, can’t be here. Instead, they opted to come out beforehand and do some work on their own time.

Almost two weeks ago now, one board member, a contractor, took time off of his regular job to come and help tile the pavilion bathrooms (one of the jobs on the work day list). This is what’s so cool about that: the bathrooms are made out of brick. Even with as much tiling as Brian has done, he has never tiled over brick. The whole thing made him nervous, coupled with the idea of strangers coming in to help this Saturday and not knowing their experience with tiling over brick either. Plus, Brian was going to have to prep absolutely everything for the tile job, yet not really be a part of it since he’s supervising the work day. It was stressful. Then, literally out of nowhere, this contractor showed up at the end of a day and told Brian he’d back in the morning to begin the tile work. The original plan was for him to tile as much as he could in two days. This was two weeks ago. He has since completed one bathroom and is almost done in the second. He told Brian last week, “I think I’m just going to go ahead and finish the bathrooms myself, fixtures and all. Then you can take it off your list.” What?! So, two jobs that Brian was dreading – tiling and plumbing – are being done by a professional, free of charge. I think Brian floated for a week, he was so elated!

Then, last week, we found out that another board member would be in the Scranton area this week, but not on Saturday, so he asked what he could do to help. The main house is getting new siding (it’s been half yellow, half gray for a year now), so Brian asked him to come help tear the old siding off in preparation for new siding on Saturday. He’s been here since Monday and almost the entire back of the house (the hardest part) now has new siding on it!

Brian has spent more time at Lowe’s and Home Depot this week than normal (which is saying a lot!) just trying to keep up with these men as they fly through these jobs and ask for more work and more supplies. What an awesome problem to have! Finally today, Brian has not been to the store, but has instead joined the guy doing siding. He’s enjoying having a companion for the day.

So, this Saturday, starting around 8, there will be a work day out here. Lunch is provided, but it’d be good to know how many are coming. If you would like to help with siding or other odd jobs around here (I can get you a more specific list if you ask), come on out! Even if you can’t be here for the day, every little bit helps.