This week I got to work with a smaller sized group that came to the Dominican to build a roof for a chapel. Typically we get to build the whole chapel (or in last weeks case- a house) but since we had less people, building a roof was a better option.
Coming into this week I was like “cool we get to build a roof.” Pretty neutral about it. As the week went on, my attitude got a little more negative. I just felt like building a roof was not nearly accomplishing as much as building a whole chapel. The group worked incredibly hard and quickly, and we often didn’t have enough work for the amount of people we had. There was more sitting around then usual. Because my job as an intern is to equip the short timers, oftentimes I had to sit back and let them do the work.
As we headed to the chapel site at 4 in the morning to build our roof, I was riding in the bus thinking about how much cooler it is to build a chapel. I was thinking solely about the practicality and necessity of a chapel versus a roof.
When we finished putting the roof up on the chapel we circled up with our group, the pastor, his family, and other church members. We all came and worshipped together in that chapel with the roof we had just constructed. We sang songs that could be sung in both Spanish and English. I was standing between our group and the Dominicans, and I could clearly hear both Spanish and English words being sung to our Creator. The presence of the Lord was so prevalent in that chapel. To hear people from such different cultures worshiping together is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed. There’s just something awe-inspiring about hearing people worship in two different languages. It just reminded me how powerful our God is, that he connects even those from different countries and backgrounds.
What I realized when building that roof was that it may have taken less work than a chapel, but it still blesses the body of Christ and that’s what matters. Sometimes God’s will is not glorious and all encompassing. Sometimes he needs us to do the little things. Not that this was a little thing- we built so many stinkin’ roof panels [so many I even dreamed about constructing roof panels].
We don’t get the credit for building the whole chapel, but focusing on that made me lose site of what was truly important. God has already been glorified in that building. Constructing the roof was so incredibly worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing about the week. What an opportunity to witness the first worship songs sung in the completed chapel. Maybe we didn’t get to put up the whole chapel, but we got to build a dang roof for a place that’s purpose is solely to glorify God! What an honor to get to take part in that.
So I’ve been doing a lot of construction the past couple weeks, and I’ve learned how to use lots of different power tools. Now, could I tell you what all their names are and what to do when something doesn’t work quite right? Ehh maybe. Some I’m better at then others. Drilling is my favorite. Probably cause I’m good at it and for the most part others aren’t (or it just takes more practice). I’m also good at the chop saw (even though I forget its name sometimes.). It’s a more technical/ detailed job and involves working with numbers – which I like.
As I was thinking about all the different tools and how each one is necessary in construction, it reminded me of the chapter in 1 Corinthians when Paul writes about spiritual gifts. Without all the necessary tools – hammer, nails, screws, chop saw, router, hand saw… Construction would be so much harder and take so much longer. Some tools are more difficult to use, some take more precision, some take more time and others involve seeing the whole picture and not just the details. Different workers have different strengths. But we brought it all together to create a house this week. We had many different power tools and we needed a team to carry out the work we had set out for us.
In the same way, God has gifted us each with different spiritual gifts such as giving, serving, hospitality, teaching, encouragement, wisdom, empathy… It’s easy to neglect the tools in our belt and try to do it on our own. But just like how each person’s tools are needed in construction, so it is with spiritual gifts also. We don’t need to just be present in order to get work done, we need to be willing. Willing to learn and work on our giftings.
As Christians, we are all part of the body of Christ. We are each gifted differently and each of our gifts are needed to create a team that glorifies the Lord. Sometimes we don’t know exactly what tools we have [I spent hours using the chop saw but it took me half a week to learn it’s name] but we need to be willing to use and practice the tools God has given us in order to have an effective ministry.
I like to think there’s a honeymoon phase in every big commitment or adventure. There’s the nerves and adrenaline that come prior, but as you take that leap into a new adventure there’s this excitement and naivety. It’s like this huge blank canvas that you’re starting to write. It’s a clean slate and it’s (somewhat) easy to start.
Being in the Dominican the first two days didn’t feel real. It was all so foreign to me that I felt like I was going to wake back up in my air conditioned room at home. I kind of think it was my body’s way of taking it in – not letting me realize that this is what the next 10 weeks would look like. At least until I was ready to accept it.
It was a short “honeymoon phase,” but the first couple days I looked around like – how cool I get to do this! The other interns are awesome! This is gonna be my best summer yet! And while those are all still thoughts I have, I’m also coming to the point I’m realizing it’s going to be hard. I always knew that, but now I’m experiencing it.
I miss home. Not necessarily my house, but I miss the people in my life at home. My family, my roommates, my friends… I miss being known. I don’t think your past defines you, but your past helps define who you’ve become. There’s other random things I miss too: Chick-fil-a, driving my car, easy access to anything I need (aka target), air conditioning…
I know that it will get better as this becomes my relative home for the summer, and I really am so incredibly excited to see how the Lord will work here this summer. What an amazing opportunity to get to live in the Dominican for a summer and be able to evangelize and build chapels and most of all get to know the people here!
The “honeymoon phase” is ending. I’m starting to realize that this is a really big blank canvas I’m writing on. It’s not just a short-term, mini trip. It’s gonna take determination and grit and most of all Jesus to joyfully serve these next 10 weeks. It’s when things are hard that we allow the Lord to work through us. It’s in our discomfort that we truly learn and grow. I can’t wait to see what He will do here.