So I really highly recommend going out to help build a Habitat for Humanity house. It’s a great way to help someone out and you get to use power tools and all.
This house is for an entire development of Habitat for Humanity houses around 12th Street and Baseline. Habitat purchased on “infill” plot of land big enough for quite a few homes. We’ve many more weeks on the house our church is involved with, so it’s not too late to join in the fun :). Schedule says
- May 2 is install finish carpentry
- May 16 is Irrigation / Planting and Landscape Rock
- May 23 is cleanup
- May 30 is Dedication and Housekeeping
David, who’s five now, is getting old enough to understand the connections between things, which came up Friday night. I was explaining to him how I wasn’t going to be able to play on Saturday morning, like we usually do, because I was going to help build a house for a family that couldn’t buy a house without our help. He didn’t much respond to that at all, but 30 minutes later the weather brought the topic up again.
It was a particularly windy night, windy enough for discussion. So windy, Shaun McKenna had a great line about it “The winds of Phoenix: It’s not a dust storm, it’s Organic Air!”. So our house was rattling and wheezing a bit. So I said to David:
“Isn’t it great that our house keeps us warm and safe from the weather?”
David listend to the wind for a moment and said “Yeah, not like that homeless man we saw at the coffee shop.”
For a moment I didn’t say anything, I just thought to myself about how I might not really add anything to this by speaking. So I recalled how I had explained to David why that person in front of the Coffee shop was so dirty and looked so lonely when he’d asked me about him, gosh, I think it was a year ago.
I thought about how I could reintroduce the idea that I’ll be working on the Habitat for Humanity house the next morning, but then I thought, no, that’s not really the same thing. The person David is thinking about couldn’t, in his present state, qualify for a Habitat for Humanity home.
So I just savored the moment. I had mentioned how lucky we were and David had thought of someone else that wasn’t so lucky. It was probably his competitiveness, which is a bit intense even for a 5 year old, but it was still very thoughtful.
When I was in college I worked as a framing carpenter for a crew that built custom homes. I did it the summer after I had broken my arm. It was probably as a job, the easiest to describe and most rewarding employment I’ve ever had.
I learned, for example, that there’s a HUGE difference between someone that can do something and someone that can do it well. I can nail wood together, I learned how to create wall frames, shingle, do finishing work, especially wood trim, floor and bathroom work, but i learned how to be able to do these tasks. I did not spend the time, year after year learning how to do them well. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t causing problems, I was just slow, and had to do some jobs two or even three times before I was really done.
But the guys that could do it well. They were a joy to watch. I’ve seen guys put huge heavy doors in a house so fast you don’t even consider what an incredible prep job they did. I’ve never tried to put in a door but I’m sure it would take two days and it would still need some tweaking.
I guess that was the best part of volunteering at Habitat for Humanity this weekend. It reminded me of the difference between doing something well and doing something at all, and it reminded me that David is starting to connect the dots between who has things and who doesn’t, and it won’t be long before he starts to ask why.
I was sure glad the day we noticed that our house is something we are thankful for, he also knew I was out helping another family get their first house.