Just as Nehemiah saw the work that needed to be done on the wall that surrounded Jerusalem, we began to see after six years here in West Virginia that serious refinishing work needed to be done on the porch that surrounds our house.
By dividing the work among ourselves we were able to coordinate everyone’s schedules for maximum efficiency and duration over a long period of time. The project spanned two months from August 29 to October 29 and took about 200 man hours, including the two “Blitz Days”.
On Wednesday, September 2nd, after some experimenting, David and I made a discovery. By soaking the boards first and giving each face a few more strokes with the brush, the color of the wood would dramatically change. Rinsing immediately then took away the mildew and dirt in rivers of green and black scum. It was spectacular. We always looked forward to the final rinse when the color of the wood would shine through. “Soak, scrub, rinse” was the three-step process we used for the remainder of the time, first, by hand, on the banister, then with a friend’s power washer on the larger posts, facing boards and floors.
Pre-washing is what took so long. It was the real work. It was at this point that I realized how impossible it would have been to do the job alone and I especially appreciated David’s cheerful servant spirit during this time. Once we did a major section of the front rail early in the morning when it was still cold. I was encouraged when I saw that he worked with endurance and joyfulness anyway. Overall, the Lord provided many cloudy days while at the same time holding off the rain. On one or two occasions the temperature reached 38 degrees–but not 35, the minimum drying temperature for the stain.
On September 19 Dad declared a Blitz Day. We opened the five gallon container of stain for the first time. It turned the light brown oak to an even more beautiful cedar color that looked to us like gold when illuminated by the sun. Even Daniel took some time off that day from studying for the National Bible Bee. (Seven days before we stood on the porch listening to his good report that he had passed the Local Competition.) On another Saturday afternoon Mom and Michael took over the staining so that Jonathan, David and I could work on the church float for the Apple Butter Festival. What an encouragement! Even with so many things going on, the porch work would not stop!
On another Blitz Day Jonathan, David and I were able to take out an entire floor section in one five- or six-hour period that made the rest of floor look more do-able from that point on. We also did the porch swing, picnic table and walkway railing, then the posts behind the garage, and the sandbox and the mailbox!
But by this time it was October. And “playing games of chance” with the weather in West Virginia is dangerous! On the 41st day of the project a second coat was applied to the floor by the front door. The leftover stain was just enough for touching up the doghouse. I thought we were finally finished.
The next morning as we were taking out the garbage as we always do on Tuesday, we happened to look into the five gallon can that we had used first. Lo and behold a few drops were left in the bottom of it! It was just enough to finish off where we had missed. The Lord was merciful!
That Tuesday was the 60th day. Nehemiah’s wall was finished in 52 days. Now we can identify with his feeling of accomplishment a little better. I also learned that what we work on as a team we tend to appreciate as a team. And the more difficult and complex the task is the more grateful we become for the part that each member plays. Don’t let anything become a chore. Assignments from God are not chores merely but character-builders for the Lord, and team-builders for the family.