Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. – Jeremiah 29:5
The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands. – Proverbs 14:1
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain. – Psalm 127:1-2
The Bible is filled with references about building and building well – exact measurements and materials, strong foundations, counting the cost before building, and obeying God in building and being community together.
A team of us from Crosstrain Community Church in Richmond, Virginia volunteered a couple of days ago to help with building with Hanover Habitat for Humanity. We had been intrigued for some time on how to participate, as construction novices, in the good work of Habitat – providing affordable housing for people in need.
Their processes have changed through the years and are better than ever (in choosing candidates for homes, mobilizing and equipping building teams, and strengthening community relationships). It was amazing for us how they took a group of green volunteers, with very little experience, and guided us through a day’s work. We accomplished so much – considerably more than we could have imagined.
We had a team of 14, and the site foreman, George, divided us into three smaller teams. He asked for those who considered themselves to be “perfectionists” to do prep for vinyl siding for a house. All the guys on our team chose that work).
Then George asked for 5 of us to paint trim all day. That might seem simple, but on-your-feet painting for 6 hours in the August sun was a job!
Still fun though – good company, sweet music, and lots of laughter as they splashed paint on all those strips of wood.
I was on the remaining team whose job it was to lay the plywood for the subfloor on the floor joists that were already in place. Never having done more with a hammer than hang pictures, I was more than uneasy as to what we would be doing. Fortunately, as is the case with all Habitat projects, we had “professional” volunteers leading us in the job. Our guys, Brian and Mike, knew well what they were doing and they were patient and encouraging with us.
With these guys and a couple of others, we finished that subfloor.
Between our three small teams, we worked on two houses that day. Both of the designated house owners were there helping as well. It was a pleasure to get to meet and work alongside the people who were most invested in building these houses that would be their homes.
Working together is always a great opportunity to build relationships and to serve others. We learn from others with differing strengths and see weaknesses in areas that we had no other opportunity to see except in unfamiliar territory. I am a hard worker and want to always do my part, but that was the absolute hardest physical work I’ve done in some time.
It was an incredible experience for me to be side-by-side with friends who shouldered up to you when the task got too hard, and your strength ebbed. A sunny day at the beach and a sunny day on a work site are two very different experiences. No wonder we see builders with huge coolers heading to their work! They must eat and drink massive amounts to stay hydrated and energized through the day. I’ve always had respect for these guys, and my experience with Habitat boosted that respect all the more.
When we left the site, at 3:30 that day, we had finished what they asked us to accomplish. All I wanted to do when I got home was eat, drink, and be horizontal…not thinking about anything. Completely exhausted. It has taken 2 days to get back to my “computer job” fit self (sigh). It’s the good sore of working hard, in community, for something that matters. Looking forward to our next day out with Habitat…hopefully in the cool of a Fall day.