Sunday, February 8, 2009
Into the Fire
So we left Broadus. Once again, everything was loaded into a 4 foot by 6 foot UHaul that we towed behind the car. We even managed to get Audrey's smelling Tupperware loaded. It is amazing how poor people hang on to everything, even if it is no good. We packed it hoping that someday the skunk smell would totally disappear. It never did. after a couple more moves, we finally threw it away.
Now we were headed for North Dakota. That is the state where my wife grew up and where I attended Bible College. The town where Audrey grew up no longer exists. I think that recently they finally took the sign down announcing that you were in Maza. She lived on a farm just one mile from Maza. We were headed for a place called Emerado, ND. A church called, Baseview, called me there to pastor. Little did we know that we had jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. We were full of excitement and confidence. At least this place had a church building and a parsonage. Well..... sort of.
The place was called Baseview because it was located just one mile from the Grand Forks Air Force Base. This was also about 14 miles west of Grand Forks, North Dakota. The primary constituency of this little church, and I want to emphasize "little" was the Air Force families that lived on or near the base. There are other stories related to this that I will tell later.
The parsonage was a three bedroom house. Actually, it was a three bedroom 12 foot by 60 foot mobile home. I learned that the 60' also included the tongue of the trailer. Two of the bedrooms were 5 feet by 7 feet. The third bedroom wasn't much larger. The trailer house sat broadside to the west wind. All that was to the west was a wheat field, and then the Air Force Base. In the summer the wind either blew hard, or it was calm. Each of the scenarios presented problems. When the wind blew, the trailer would rock. When it was calm, it was stifling hot. When the wind blew, it would rip the trailer door out of one's hand and blow out the hot water heater. When the wind did not blow one would sit in the trailer and sweat. We had no air conditioner or fans. Did I mention that my salary was $75 per week. They also paid the utilities. This was quite a step up.
But worst than the wind was the lightning and hail. The metal skin of the trailer acted as a lightening rod and the hail sounded like a herd of horses running across the roof. Too often, when it thundered and hailed, the wind would also blow..... rocking the trailer and blowing out the hot water heater.
Our District Superintendent, LJ, came to to install me as pastor of the church. After the morning service we invited him to our house (trailer) for the noon meal. It was an unusually hot day, so we sat there and sweated. We ate and discussed the work of the church. When he used our bathroom he pushed the door in backwards and found the plumbing to be leaking. He felt so bad about the door. A few minutes later, when he was leaving through the front door, the door knob came off in his hand. He came back in the house and we discussed the need for a new parsonage.
A few months later, we had a new parsonage. It was a 24 foot by 48 foot double wide trailer. With the trade in our the old trailer, it was only $12,000. It was set up on twelve year payments. The church was able to meet this obligation because it began growing. This was sweet. It had a shingled roof instead of metal, wood siding instead of metal, much larger rooms, and the plumbing didn't leak. But it still stood alone in the wind.
Next visit, I will describe the church building.