Saturday, 14 July 2012

This Shattered World, Book 1: Glass part 20

By lunch time I was exasperated. Robyn refused to behave and I had pulled her off of the banister more times than I could count.

“But it’s fun sliding down,” Robyn protested. “It’s like flying.”

“That is not what it is for. Go do something less constructive.” I shooed the girl in front of me and out the front door. “Go play.”

Robyn crossed her arms and pouted. “With what?”

“Take Buddy and go exploring.” I gave her a shove and turned back inside.

I could hear Macy crying from somewhere upstairs. Elise had volunteered to watch her for a while so I could get Robyn settled. But Macy refused to let me leave her sight. Not that I blamed the poor baby. I had been gone for so long and she probably thought I wasn’t going to come back if I left her.

Sighing I trudged upstairs to go get my baby. Halfway down the hall Macy’s sobs stopped and she started giggling. I frowned. Something must have happened.

I entered my room and stopped in surprise. Savannah sat on the floor playing with Macy. In her delicate, white hand Savannah held a green, glass horse and was making it jump over a silver spoon. Macy laughed and launched her own blue horse over it.

I sank to the floor behind Macy and touched her hair. Macy turned to me and began babbling in her own language. I smiled at her and let her crawl into my lap.

“Are you having fun with Savannah?” I planted a kiss on her forehead.

“Yeah, yeah.” Macy bobbed her head and scrambled back to Savannah. “Ober.”

She ran her horse across the floor and over the spoon. “Ober.” She pointed to Savannah’s horse and bounced in patiently.

“Ober?” Savannah looked at me.

“Over,” I mouthed.

Savannah nodded and made her horse jump. Macy clapped her hands. Savannah smiled.

“She is such a delight.” She touched my baby’s hands and her eyes softened. “I never had younger siblings and even those who have young children employ nannies to care for them.”

“Why?” As a mother I couldn’t fathom someone else raising my child. Where was the love in that?

“So they have more social time,” Savannah explained. “Dante and I were raised by nannies, governesses and tutors. Maybe that’s why we have no relationship with our parents. They only started taking a remote interest in us when we came of age. But then the only thing they wanted us for was to make good matches.”

“Matches?” I asked. “Matches in what?”

“Marriage. The more money the person had the better. I was launched into society and flung at every rich man around.” Savannah bowed her head and I saw a tear fall from her eyes.

“What about Dante?” I spoke slowly, not sure if I wanted to know the answer.

Savannah straightened her shoulders and looked me in the eye. “Do you really want to know?”

Macy had toddled over to Anne and tugging gently on the dog’s ears. I looked at her. Was I ready to here this about the man I was falling in love with? Would this information make me feel more for him or just pity?

“Yes, I want to know. I have to know.” I led Savannah to the couch and we sat down together.

“Father wanted Dante to take over his business so for about a year Dante went on all Father’s business trips. They spent so much time together and I got jealous. I wanted to spend time with my father too. I begged Dante to tell me what they did so I might get to know my father through him. But he refused. Finally though, he told. Sometimes I wished he hadn’t.” Savannah stopped for a moment. “Crystal, I know you think I’m naive, and maybe I am, but that’s because the truth hurts too much. I’d rather not know then be hurt.”

I didn’t know what to say. I had always thought of her in that way. But now maybe I understood. There were some things I wished I hadn’t ever found out. Like what it was like to be taken advantage of, like what it felt like to lose the family you held close to your heart. But I had discovered those things and I was all the stronger for it. But maybe Savannah didn’t work that way.

“The things Dante told me of my father, I didn’t want to believe. He told me stories of people being threatened if they didn’t pay up, of over pricing rents and evictions. My father even lied and cheated to make his fortune. He did so many things to climb his way to the top and even when he was there he still didn’t stop. He started a campaign to rid the world of all those who could possible hurt anything he had worked for. And all those who weren’t what he considered the right people.”

“That farm camps, the mines?” I wasn’t really that surprised to hear about this. But to know that Dante was the product of such a man yet so honourable, that was surprising. I knew that the mines and the farm camps where horrible places. The people there never survived. They always needed more to work. Dante had told me about his father but Savannah’s tale was different. More emotional. Dante spoke as if he no longer cared. But Savannah’s hurt was still evident. Dante just hid his.

Savannah nodded. “Dante told me about your sister. I’m so sorry about that.”

“Don’t apologize. It wasn’t your fault.” I touched Savannah’s hand and for the first time we really looked at each other.

We had finally found something in common. We both carried a pain that we couldn’t be rid of. Mine she didn’t know and maybe I could tell her one day, but today.

“Why don’t we go down to the barn and find some kittens to play with?” I stood up and called Macy.

With that smile that never failed to delight me, my daughter came running, arms outstretched. I scooped her up and led the way outside.

“Robyn!” I called as we stepped out onto the front drive. “Come here.”

No one answered and I shrugged. “Maybe she’s at the barn.”

Savannah stiffened as Truscott came bounding over. I laid a hand on her arm and she relaxed. “He won’t hurt you.”

She reached down and touched Truscott’s head and a tentative smile crept over her face. “He’s so soft.”

I laughed and we went down the path to the stables talking like old friends. I discovered that Savannah was rather gullible and tried my best not to use it to my advantage. When she found that I had ridden Amour and enjoyed it she told me that I could call the mare my own.

At the barn we found the stables in a frenzy. No more than six horses trotted around the cobblestone courtyard and two dogs ran barking after them. In one corner, a cat hissed from his precarious perch on a stall door while three puppies yipped at him and jumped for the cat’s swinging tail.

“What in the world?” I gasped, clutching Macy to me as one of the horses brushed by. “Greg! Where are you?”

Greg appeared in the door way to the tack room, barely contained anger in his eyes. “Some little hoodlum has been causing havoc here all morning. If I ever catch her...” His voice trailed off.

“She didn’t have red hair by any chance?” I asked.

“She does.”

I nodded. “I think I know who it was and you’ll have to get in line to punish her.”

“What do you mean?” Greg reached out and snagged a barking dog. “She had a dog with her too.”

“Robyn, my sister. She’s in a mood right now. I’d like to say that it’s because she lost her parents but I’m afraid this act of rebellion is because I dragged her into a world she doesn’t understand and left her to her own devises.”

I handed Macy to Savannah and strode to the middle of the courtyard. “Robyn Lynn Reynolds, you get down here now.”

My voice carried over the noise of horses’ hooves and barking dogs. Then a red head peered out from the haymow, a grin on her face.

“Hello, Crystal,” she called. “What’s up?”

I propped my hands on my hips and marched towards her. “You get down here right now, young lady. You have some serious explaining to do.”

The smile on Robyn’s face faded. She stood up and disappeared. I tapped my foot as I waited for her to come out of the barn. When she finally did she wasn’t looking so happy anymore.

“What is the meaning of this?” I waved my hand to encompass the whole stable area.

“I was bored,” Robyn said. “’Sides, you said go explore.”

“I said explore, not cause problems.”

“But they wanted out.” Robyn stomped her foot.

“I’m sure they did but that is for the grooms to decide not you. And since you like being here at the barn so much I propose that you come down here for the next two weeks and help Greg and Pete in the mornings.”

Robyn’s mouth dropped and she crossed her arms over her chest. “Not fair.”

I glared at her and her shoulders slumped. “Alright, alright. I’ll do it.”

I nodded. “Greg, come here and meet my sister.”

Greg came over and stood beside me. I turned him and saw that the anger in his eyes had been replaced with amusement.

“Robyn, this is Greg. Greg, Robyn. She’s going to help you out for the next two weeks. Do you think that will work?”

Greg studied my sister and Robyn squirmed under his gaze. I smiled. She wasn’t so tough as she made out to be.

“Alright, Miss Robyn. I’m glad to have you join our team. I guess you may as well start now. The tack room is a mess. You can straighten it up.”

“Thanks, Greg. Send her back to me at dinner time.”

Greg propelled Robyn into the tack room and I turned back to Savannah. She had stood quietly with Macy watching the whole time.

“How do you do that?” She asked, handing Macy back to me.

“Practice,” I said. “Trust me, when you’ve lived with her for ten years you get used to her mischief. Yelling doesn’t get anywhere with her and neither does anger. So you just punish her before she had a chance to start talking her way out.”

Savannah laughed. “I see. Well, I guess finding kittens is out of the question?”

“They’ve probably fled to Timbuktu by now.”

Laughing we headed back to the house, Truscott and Anne trotting along behind us.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Philadelphia Times Vol. 1 #6

July 5, 2012

Today was the last day of working at Grace Fellowship. With mostly little things to do we headed off to the church. Once there we began to clean up and put things back where they belonged.

The outside still needed another coat of paint so our favourite painting team, Ashley, Alison and Grace, headed outside to tackle that job. Inside Bethany and Christina started in on the Men’s Bathroom. Alice, Heather and Lisa started washing the floor and moving bookshelves back into place. Matt and Dan continued in the closet and Adam and Martin hung up the coat hooks and bulletin boards. Mark once again headed off to his favourite store.

Lunch time came quickly and we only had a couple hours left until we had to leave the church. Matt and Mark replaced the ceiling tiles and vacuuming was started and then stopped and then started again.

The back room is a small study but it was such a mess no one could work in it. So some of us started cleaning it up and getting rid of things that were no longer working. In no time at all the room was looking decent.

We were almost done when Dan trekked out of his closet, through the study, across the stage, down the aisle and into the kitchen leaving a trail of tar footprints behind. And so we all got down on our hands and knees and began scrubbing away at the stains. Turpentine works wonders on tar.

When the disaster was averted we cleaned up some last minute things and headed to the showers and home. Once again we headed to the Livingstons, this time leaving a thank you card and a gift card.

The back of the church did look nice until we dragged all the garbage out. Now at least ten bags and a pile of cardboard mar the almost nice landscape. We have been throwing things out left, right and centre. If we can’t think of a use for it or it is dirty and gross, out it goes.

Tonight was a fellowship dinner at Grace. A few members of the congregation were there but no one else. So a group of us headed out to the park across the street and invited them to eat with us.  It took telling them that there was air conditioning to bring them in. Over twenty people came through during the evening. Most of them were quite talkative and eager to spend time with us.

After everyone was gone we gathered around the piano and sang until our voices were raw. But I’m sure our praises pleased our God, the One whom we have tried our best to serve with joy this week.

Last minute group shots, last minute discussions about tomorrows plans and we headed back ‘home’.

There are some mixed feelings as we get ready to head home. We all want out beds but leaving Grace Fellowship and the people we have met causes us some sadness. The work there has been renewed and we all want to see it progress. I guess that is what e-mail is for.

Pastor Larry Westerveld has asked us to come back next year or the year after to work in another church. We all would be delighted to go, but only God knows the plans He has for us and this city called Philadelphia.

We praise Him for this week. With thanksgiving in our hearts for the fellowship of fellow believers, the laughter we have shared, the lessons we have learned, we go to sleep this night eager to back with our families.

Thank you for your prayers, for continually keeping us in mind. Please continue praying for Pastor Bill Snodgrass and his family. Pray that he does not lose heart and that he will continue to preach the word and go out into the streets to talk to those there.   

Until next time,

            The Farmer’s Daughter  

Quote of the Day:

Martin: If in doubt, throw it out. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Philadelphia Times Vol. 1 #5

July 4, 2012

Independence Day. This is what our day was supposed to look like.

8:30 am – leave for the church.

9:00 am – 11:00 work on the church.

11:30 am – go ‘home’ and eat lunch.

12:00 pm – eat lunch.

1:00 pm – 3:00 take showers.

3:00 pm – leave for Independence Day Parade.

4:00 – 6:00 pm – watch Parade.

6:30 pm – go get Philly Cheese Steaks for supper.

8:00 pm – meet Dana at the church to go to fireworks.

8:30 pm – get to fireworks.

9:15 pm – fireworks start.

10:00 pm – go back ‘home’.

11:00 – 12:00 pm – go to bed.

Here is what really happened:

8:30ish am – left for church with one vehicle stopping in again at Home Depot (I think the employees know Mark by now).

9:00ish am – starting in on cleaning things up, put some more pews back, found my lens cover, finished painting the front of the church and weeding the back of the church, painted the poles out front, finished organizing the kitchen.

11:20ish am – decided we had better stop working if we wanted to go out and do things.

11:30 am – next door neighbour, a Korean, offered us lunch. Fresh crab. Lots of fresh crab. They were cooked but they still had their eyes. Beady, little eyes.

12:00 pm – got back ‘home’.

12:10 pm – first van load left for showers.

12:30 pm – Niessa Snodgrass and Heather left to get Italian Ice. Picked up five flavours.

1:10 pm – started lunch. We all tried the crabs but most of us found it was too much work for the little bit of meat we got out. The Italian Ice was a great hit though and we all enjoyed trying the different flavours.

2:00 pm – second van load of people left for showers.

3:00ish pm – left for parade and settled into our spots. Took a few tries to find a nice shady spot. We were at the end of the Parade route.

4:00 pm – the Parade started.

4:30ish pm – we finally saw the first float.

6:15ish pm – left to go get Philly Cheese Steaks.

6:30ish pm – arrived at the Steak house to find it closed. Headed for Baja Fresh instead to try some Mexican food.

6:50 pm – got to the restaurant and ordered our food.

7:20ish pm – left to go meet Dana at ‘home’.

8:00 pm – got back to the church and met Dana.

8:05 pm – left for the fireworks.

8:30 pm – arrived at fireworks.

9:10ish pm – the fireworks started.

9:55 pm – the fireworks ended with a loud, grand finale.

10:05 pm – headed back ‘home’.

11:11 pm – no one seems interested in going to bed yet.

Dana is one of the young people in the Calvary Church. She is very excited that we are here. We met here on Sunday and she immediately invited us to come to the fireworks with her.

Today was a lot of fun even with a few minor setbacks. Tomorrow is our last day of work on the church and there is still plenty of work to be had.  

Quote of the Day:

Lisa after Dan sprayed Axe in the room: Do you want me to smell like Axe?

Dan: ...kinda...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Philadalphia Times Vol. 1 #4

July 3, 2012

It was another busy day here in the City of Brotherly Love. After a quick stop at Home Depot for more paint we set to work applying a second coat to the walls. Grace and Ashley started working on the front foyer. And once again Grace got the lovely job of cutting in the paint at the ceiling.

Dan and Mark went back to Home Depot to get supplies to fix the closet that was torn apart yesterday. We also decided to paint the front of the church a greyish blue. By lunch time Dan and Mark were back and Grace, Alison and Ashley started painting the front of the church.

After lunch we went to the park across the street and sang some songs. While there we talked to some of the people in the park and handed out invitations to church. Most people were quite receptive. Alison and Adam met a man who believed in the Koran. They spent some time listening to him telling them that the Koran was the true book. While they didn’t get much chance to talk to him about the Christ of the Bible they hope the words they did say would penetrate and show him the errors of his way. We handed out about twenty or so invitations in all and we hope that at least a few of them will come to church and help build up the congregation at Grace Fellowship.

We came back to the church and finished painting. By about two-thirty the front foyer was done. They had run out of blue paint for the front so Mark had to head back to Home Depot for more. When he came back a crew of four girls finished painting. As they were so many girls visible we had a lot of comments about women working. One lady laughed and told us women got things done. We had to agree. Sorry, guys.

With the front almost finished the clean up inside began. The yellow paint was finished with so we threw out paint trays and rollers. The kitchen floor got scrubbed and Adam and Mark started putting back the pews.

Outside at the back of the building another bunch of people started cleaning up the waist high weeds. By four most of the weeds were down and the two flower boxes were ready for flowers. The Snodgrasses brought us a weed eater so that helped in taking out the weeds. Tomorrow we hope to put in a few flowers and some mulch. There is a path from the parking lot to the back door but it was so covered in weeds you could barely see it. We hope to lay some mulch down to define the path.

Dan spent most of the afternoon in his ‘cave’. The closet at the back is now missing most of the floor and Dan tarred a lot of the walls and floor joists in hopes that that would stop the water from leaking in. The basement doesn’t smell so bad and we are starting to get the mold under control. Tomorrow Dan hopes to put in a new floor joist and get some drywall up.

At four we called it quits and headed back to get our bathing suits. Niessa Snodgrass has a membership at the YMCA in Abington and we went to get a swim. Because of a mix up by one of the Y staff we almost didn’t get in. But because things weren’t explained right we were allowed in. After they entered us all into their computers and took our mug shots we headed out to swim in the outdoor pool.

Supper, like always was late but we had good discussions about the things we had seen and heard today. Tomorrow is Independence Day and we plan on spending the afternoon exploring Philadelphia and finishing off with fireworks.

Quote of the Day:

Random man at Home Depot to Mark: Sir, have you ever been constipated?

Philadelphia Times Vol.1 #3

July 2, 2012

We began our morning by celebrating Adam’s 19th birthday. For fun we wrote a song for him using the tune of ‘Jehovah Jireh’ and now none of us will ever be able to sing that song again without laughing. The song went like this:

 ‘Oh, Adam Bootsma! Happy Birthday!

‘We’re so glad to have you on our team, our team, our team.

‘Thanks for coming on your birthday!

‘Too bad you’ll be working all day.

‘You’re tall like a mighty oak tree...

‘You’re muscles rival those of Hercules.

‘We wish you all the best as you’re turning 19!

‘We hope you don’t rupture your spleen...

‘Let’s celebrate and eat some icecream

‘Oh, what a pleasure it has been!’

At the church we began by deciding what we would need to fix up the church. While Mark and Martin went to get the supplies the rest of us began to wash walls. At least we girls did. The boys went to check out the roof and decided that it was fixable. Then began the long and arduous task of unscrewing the pews from the floor. Arm muscles behind screwdrivers and an electric drill loosened the screws and the pews were moved to the middle of the sanctuary.

When our supplies arrived Lisa and Heather began taping the baseboards and around the door frames. Grace found a ladder and began cutting in the paint at the ceiling. She did a marvelous job. Various others started cutting in around the baseboards. By lunch time there was a major difference to the white walls.

After lunch Alice and Matt started in on the wall behind the pulpit and soon the white wall was transformed into a pale yellow wall. By the end of the day with paint running out we managed to get a first coat on all the walls and the second coat of cutting in started.

Up on the roof Dan and Adam spent some time cleaning out the clogged drains and then with Matt’s help started tarring the holes in the roof. Later Matt and Adam came inside to help with the painting and Lisa went up on the roof to help Dan.

When the roof was finished Matt and Dan began tearing ruined drywall out of a small closet and removing the flooring to see what damage had been done. The rest of us were still labouring away on the walls.

When Grace was tired of painting she went outside with Mark and they scrubbed down the front wall of the church. With a new coat of paint it will look much more inviting and warm.

Around five we began to slow down and a half an hour later we called it quits for the day. After spending some time cleaning up we headed back ‘home’ for supper.

By that time we were all covered in paint or tar or both. Some of us more than others. Rosie thought it would be fun to use Matt as a doodle pad and as a result at the end of the day he had an ‘R’ on his arm and a stripe down his back.

The thought of a nice shower appealed to us all. One of the Calvary’s elders and his wife are on vacation this week. They have graciously offered us the use of their two showers. We are very thankful to them.

The Snodgrasses joined us again for supper and delivered an ice cream cake for Adam. We all enjoyed the cake immensely.

All in all, it was a wonderful day. A day filled with laughter and fun. A day to become closer as friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. The citizens of Germantown are friendly and very curious. They slow down to watch us as we work. We hope that they will become curious enough to enter the doors and come to know the Truth.

Quotes of the Day:

Rosemary: Hold your metaphorical horses!

Grace: I have another nose growing on my head!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Philadelphia Times Vol. 1 #2

July 1, 2012

It was a sunny morning as we all tumbled out of bed at various times. We ate together and then after cleaning up the sleeping areas so the Calvary congregation could hold Sunday school we headed off to Grace Fellowship.

An elder led us in a study of the seventh question of the Shorter Catechism where we read about the decrees of God. How He has decreed everything to His eternal purpose and for His glory. We learned that everything that happens has been foreordained by God’s sovereign plan.

Both services were delivered by Rev. Barry Traver. In the morning we were taught about who Jesus is. That He is the Son of the Living God. The one we must worship with all our beings. In the afternoon Rev. Traver read from John and expounded the ‘I Ams’ of Christ.

Both services gave us the opportunity to get to know the small congregation better. After the first service we came back to Calvary and joined them for a church lunch. There we had a chance to talk to those in the already established church.

Already we have made friends in both churches. A member from the Calvary church has offered to take us around on Wednesday, Independence Day, including fireworks in the evening. In the Grace Fellowship Church we have offers of help from a family that regularly attends. One or two of the oldest boys will join us tomorrow to help us out as we start the work.

The one member of the Grace congregation is originally from Nigeria. His two oldest sons, the ones who will be working with us, were born there. His youngest two were born here in Canada.

He is a seminary study and is working on his doctorate before headed back to Nigeria to bring Christ’s word to those there.

The Snodgrasses joined us for supper and we spent a few minutes remembering our country and singing the national anthem. Prayer time was a group effort with each of us taking a prayer request and bringing it before the throne of God.

The weather is quite warm here but we are all spoiled with air conditioned vehicles and church buildings. We continue to get to know one another and spend time laughing and having fun.

Tomorrow the work begins and we ask that you all pray for us. We ask for protection for the week, for the strength to do what God has ordained. And also pray for the Grace Fellowship Church. The small congregation seems to be losing more members than they are gaining. Pray that Pastor Bill Snodgrass will not despair and that he will keep preaching faithfully. Pray that we as a youth group might bring encouragement to the church and also the gospel to those who live in darkness. Pray that we may always show that light of Christ in all that we do.