Monday, February 9, 2009
The Baseview church was just that, a church that had a view of the Grand Forks Air Force Base, that stood a mile to the west along US Highway 2. We had other views also. To the north was wheat fields. To the east was wheat fields, and to the south was Highway 2 and more wheat fields. None of these wheat fields was able to stop the incessant wind in the summer, nor the winter. And the wind seemed to never stop.
In one way this was the typical rural little white church..... except Baseview had no steeple, and it was in ill repair. This was once an old country school building that had been move in on site. A small lean to was added as an entry and a place to hang coats. The aged cedar siding was cracking and peeling. Thousands of crickets found their way to hide in all the cracks on the south and east sides. Many of them also found their way into the church itself. And there was a sign made of a sheet of plywood and two posts that announced to all who drove by that this, indeed, was a church. They proudly whited out the previous pastor's name and painted mine in it's place.
The interior of the church was graced with a bright red carpet. This was in the days when carpets were backed by black foam.... no pad was needed. This carpet ran throughout the entry, foyer, sanctuary, and throughout the basement where the Sunday School classes were. There was no church office, so we built one in the foyer, its walls were dark oak panelling. We promptly installed the sound system in the office. I didn't mind
I was embarrassed serving communion off a little coffee table. That's right, they had a little coffee table they used for years to serve communion on. It was a little awkward. Over the years you would have thought that someone would have addressed this issue. But I guess they were happy. So I used some left over panelling from our office building project and made a communion table. It was awful, but they thought it was great. It was definitely better.
One of the handiest tools the church had was a wet/dry vacuum. In the spring and when it rained the basement leaked. It seemed like I was constantly sucking water out of the basement carpet. We went through many pounds of that carpet de-odorizer that you sprinkle on and vacuum off. This was usually the pastor's job. I felt so "called" to do this. I don't remember God ever saying to me "Rod, I want you to go to North Dakota to suck water out of carpets." The problem was, God must not have said that to any of my members either.
My other main job was shoveling snow in the winter. The wheat fields were harvested and so even the wheat would not stop the wind driven snow. However, the road just to the east of us acted as a snow fence. That is, it piled the snow in our driveway in the the church parking lot. And, of course, we had no money for snow removal. Ah, but the church did have money.... enough to buy the pastor a snow shovel. Believe me, I spent hours shoveling snow every time it snowed. The snow would blow in anywhere from two to four feet deep. It was hard to find the car. This was no fluffy white snow. This stuff packed in as hard drifts.
We had one such snow storm the night that we had a visiting missionary, Herbert W. C. II. The next morning the sun was shining, but the wind was blowing and it was minus 20 degrees. Herbert's car and my car were both buried, and Mr. W. C. had to be on the road to the next church. Herbert W. was really fussy about his hair. He had one of those sculpted hairdos that was cemented in place with a half can of hairspray. I had been out shoveling for about 90 minutes when he decided to come out and help. This was a good year, the church could afford two snow shovels. But Mr. Herbert W. C. would not wear a cap. The wind blew the snow back in his face and.... and.... all over his hair. I could see that he was beginning to freeze up. It was a moment later he said, "This is mean." He threw down his shovel and went into the house. About two hours later I had shoveled a path so he could get his car out. He did. Good riddance. I always wondered why God called me to shovel snow.... but not him. Oh well, I lived through it.
I think I preferred the part where God called me to kill crickets in the summer.
Next time, Pentecostal Holy Rolling.