Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cabin fever!

Two months shy of three years ago, our church started meeting in the cabins at Heekin Park. Perhaps most churches in America would not consider it to be a very luxurious place and, well...I wouldn't argue. Not much, anyway. But at the time it was a great step up. It was the end of an Indiana winter spent meeting in an unheated garage with a salamander. (If you're not familiar with a salamander, it's a heating machine that has a long snake attachment and does *wonderful* things for the air quality. We would have it on before the meeting and then turn it off to start so we could hear the music. But then it would be cold again, so we'd fire it back up while we took a break. Then we'd have to turn it off to finish our meeting. Ah...the good ol' days!)

Moving into the cabins felt downright luxurious because they had HEAT! Our first service in the cabins was on my birthday in March. I giggled because I could feel my toes wearing only one pair of socks. It was a birthday present too wonderful for me! (Okay...maybe I felt like I deserved it.) We rented three of them: one for the service, one for nursery (birth through age 5), and one for elementary students (K-5).The big cabin had a small kitchen with a stove and small refrigerator, which seemed like such a novel idea at the time. It also had a stage area along one of the narrow walls. I laughed thinking we'd go from having someone talk from a circle of people sitting in metal chairs in a garage to having us all listen to someone speaking down to us from a stage. Turns out we never used the stage for that and we were all glad.

When we first went to the cabins, we were a handful of mostly relocators with very few children. But more people moved in, some of our neighbors started to come, lots of neighborhood kids joined us, and many, many babies were born. Neither Israel nor Eden had even been thought of (by us, anyway...) before we moved to the cabins, but both of them were dedicated to our Lord there. We have seen friends baptized in those cabins. Wedding vows were renewed outside the cabins. We grew by all means available until we started running out of room to put enough chairs in the cabin and the kids (many of whom did not exist our first Sunday there) were crazy and loud being put together in such a resonant space. Many of us were tired of making the trek from a cabin to the glorified outhouses in the heat (stinky) or the cold (the toilets were metal). It became more and more cumbersome storing all the things for sound, nursery, kids, and lunch in the trunks of our cars and the back of an old van during the week and hauling them through whatever weather to set up for what had become around 75 people a week. All the wonderful people added to us meant our church had some growing pains that couldn't be ignored while we waited to build a community center where we could also house our church.

The recent news that we had been asked to rent out the Boys' and Girls' Club was met with shouts of joy from just about all of us. It is just across the park from the cabins that have been our home. We were excited to hear that it had not two, but three classrooms and bathrooms and (gasp!) storage space...all under one roof! What glory! On Saturday, several of us gathered to check out our new, rented home. It is about what you would expect from a sort of inner-city non-profit place for kids to hang out. It needs painted. Things are old, torn, outdated, disheveled. I'll admit that my initial excitement met with some I'm-not-sure-about-this as I walked through the rooms and thought about how we would fit into the space.

We got to work cleaning off the various sorts of chairs that had been donated to us to set up for worship in the gym. We rearranged rooms for the kids. We set up tables and chairs for lunch. (We're still a few short if you have any extra long folding tables sitting around....) We found a pulpit in the back of the locker room. That's right...a pulpit. Wow. We got a folding glass wall to put around the drum set. We have room in the storage closet for a sound board and bigger speakers borrowed from a band. It took 8-10 of us a little over 3 hours to figure things out and get set up. That's a long time. Excitement met with this-is-a-lot-of-work.

But on Sunday, everything felt great. The kids, who are already quite familiar with the building, felt right at home and got right down to playing pool and Dance Dance Revolution. There are bugs to work out, to be sure, but the space felt warm and inviting. In spite of all the needed improvements, seeing each other's familiar faces there felt a little like seeing your spouse of years and years dressed up for a date.

Right now I am in the throes of potty training Israel while Eden is pulling on me to help her walk across the room. It actually takes up a lot more of my time teaching Israel to pull his pants and underwear up and down, get situated for the big event, follow through, and wash his hands. It's slower for me to hold Eden's hand while she walks than it is for me to carry her to her destination. Growing up is hard work -- and no less so for those given the task of helping the process along.

Moving to the next stage requires a new commitment to the harder work of doing something new.


the three wise menn said...

We began with two cabins...the little kids started out on the stage behind a curtain. :)

keep growing said...

Thanks for the amendment. The curtain had become a long-forgotten detail to me, since someone didn't put it up during Eden's lifetime.

Praising Him! Paula said...

You guys have a very special place in my heart! I feel blessed to have been able to visit the garage..the cabins...and hope to visit the Boys and Girls club one day soon! What a beautiful example you all have been of Christ love to many! It just gives me encouragement to get out there and love on others!!