Thursday, April 24, 2014

Semana Santa in Spokane, Part 1: Bigger Barns

This is our first post of several about our recent trip to Spokane. Although Holy Week or “Semana Santa” is a wonderful time to be in Guatemala, we determined that this would be a good time to visit our home in Spokane, Washington. Richard needed to do a couple of follow-up appointments with doctors, it’s a week when very little is happening from a work standpoint, both our birthdays fall in that week, we could renew our visas, visit family and friends, sit down with an accountant to prepare taxes, and spend Easter with family.

The old barn - in slightly better days
The first sight that attracted us to the small farm that we ended up purchasing and living on some 33 years ago was an old barn, built on the property at the turn of the last century. It had fallen into disrepair, and as struggling newlyweds, we weren’t able to renovate the old structure, but with some simple repairs and lots of tarps to shed the rain from the leaky roof, we used the barn for many years as a place that sheltered horses, pigs, chickens, and rabbits. Our boys grew up as “farm kids” building forts in the hay bales and rigging rope swings to play on in the loft. But, by the time we were to a place where we could renovate the old structure, the damage was too extensive. Reluctantly, we abandoned the project and built a new barn.
The morning after the wind storm

Caber tossing lumber to the truck
(If you're Scottish, you'll see
the irony in that)
Walter prying nails
Around Thanksgiving time, a blast of winter wind finally brought the old structure down. I have to admit we were glad we were in Guatemala when it finally went. Our boys (now young men) began the process of salvaging the beautiful weathered wood to re-use as decorative paneling in the new barn. For part of our visit, we were able to work side-by-side once again on this salvaging operation. Several thoughts came to mind as we pulled nails and stacked wood on the trailer for transport. Maybe it’s because it was the Easter season, but there seemed a resurrection story in the events related to the old barn’s demise and its inclusion into the new structure. As I stacked the sheets of metal roofing in a pile, I also thought of how our partners in Guatemala would love to get their hands on some of this “lamina”, as it’s referred to there, for roofing their homes and churches. Mostly, I thought of Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:16-21, referred to as “The Parable of the Rich Fool”. I’ll not repeat it here, but I invite you to read it for yourselves. In essence, the parable is about a person whose land produced an abundant crop and he immediately thought to build bigger barns to store all his goods. Then God says to him “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you. Then who will get what you prepared for yourself?” 

The new barn. Just before we left

It’s a parable I’ve always viewed as a warning about being too consumed with the things of this life and not on the things of eternal life (which I still believe to be an accurate interpretation). But our new life in Guatemala causes me to look once again at the words “This very night your life will be demanded of you”. Ironically, (or not) at the very time we were discerning this call to mission service, we were in the process of planning and building our new barn. And after we were accepted to the position, we laughed with many friends and neighbors about the fact that we finally had a barn that doesn’t leak, just in time to leave it behind. For me anyway, I’ve begun to think we hear those words every night if we are listening: “This very night your life will be demanded of you” (I’m not sure about the “You fool” part). Maybe it’s a radical life change to quit one’s job and head to the mission field, maybe it’s service right at home to church, community, and neighbors. Maybe it’s the encouraging, sustaining, and life-giving support of ministry and mission around the world. In so many ways, the community of faith responds to the demand for our lives “this very night”. We are so privileged to see from where we work and live, the blessing this community has been. Thankfully, not all of us just built bigger barns.

Richard and Debbie Welch
PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers, Guatemala

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