This is my neighbor’s door. I’ll call her “M”. You may remember M from Power in Silence. As you can see from M’s door, it’s not very weather tight. In fact, this is what the door looks like when she is not home. The towel helps keep the air from blowing directly into her trailer. When she is home with her fun dog Delilah, pillows, weather-stripping and more towels are added to block the air. It is a chore just to come and go. It is also expensive since her thermostat is directly in front of the door, three feet in. This is clearly not a very good situation.
For Advent Conspiracy the Wauconda ‘Village’ of Fusion Church wanted to do something special. Since God had planted me in Woodland Village Mobile Home Park and our goal is to bring real love to our neighbors, we decided to bless someone I had established relationship with and who we knew had a different kind of “Christmas” need. This would also serve as a pilot run for future endeavors with my neighbors. M had two clear needs: her shower was unusable and her door was junk. With a hard winter hitting us, we chose to do the door.
Brandon felt a real urge to help and so led the way for the rest of the team. In December he assessed the situation, got the door and was just waiting for the right time to install. Unfortunately, M’s brother became gravely ill and passed away soon after Christmas. It was a hard time for her, as you can imagine. We held off until she was ready.
That day was today and we couldn’t have asked for a better one in January. The temperature wasn’t as frigid as it has been and the snow held off. So at 9AM Brandon, Brad and Eric met with me at The Barn (aka my apartment). We prayed together. I prayed for creativity and wisdom. As it turned out both were needed. What was also needed before the job began was some minor chiropractic work on Brad’s back, helped by Eric.
At M’s the guys unpacked the tools and jumped right into taking off the door. Rotting boards, loose screws, broken weather-stripping were all uncovered. What more would be uncovered was yet to come. Since the door would be off and the temperature would be falling inside, M and Delilah finished their walk and then visited me.
Over the next couple of hours, M and I talked. If you have not read Power In Silence, please do so now and then come back. You’ll have a better feel for M and our initial relationship.
Done reading? Good.
My goal in talking with M was to love her, not push her, and to speak with her as I would anyone. We talked of many things, covering many topics. I shared more of my story and I talked with her about my mom’s dying. She did ask me, “You aren’t afraid to die, are you?” “No, I’m not.” With her brother’s death so fresh, thoughtfully she said she was. Despite her belief in God, she was afraid to die. Gentle conversation followed about that fear. We talked about how some religious people are harsh and judgmental. I couldn’t deny that. I simply spoke about what God wanted to show us through Jesus: that God wanted to know us and, more importantly, he wanted us to know him. He wanted to free us from the garbage in our lives and bring us joy. It isn’t about do’s and don’ts. It’s about grace and freedom. Relationship not religion. It’s about being God’s child and living as such.
I told her about Fusion Church so she would understand my work here a bit better. She found out that I intentionally moved to Woodland Village with the goal of helping my neighbors. This was something new to her. We talked about how Fusion was started with a drug addict coming to Christ and bringing his friends with him. I told her about the goal of Fusion, as I understand it: to love God by loving other disciples and loving our neighbors. We talked about other churches. I told her Fusion’s goal of growing the church wherever people met, that it was not about a building but people. And as women are wont to do, we even talked about men . . . in a general sort of way, of course.
Speaking of men. . . . Back at the trailer, hard work was going on. It turned out that the new door was about an inch taller than the old. Since they had already removed the door, they cut the area bigger. Understand that the only thing they needed to cut way was the inside panelling. There was no structural header over the doorway, indeed it was just the outside of the trailer and the inside panelling without any kind of insulation. With a few runs to the hardware store, they moved forward.
One key element was insulating above and around the door. They caulked, sealed, insulated and made the door the most air tight opening on the entire trailer. Brandon with his expertise was the lead on the job, but Brad and Eric were key contributors to the endeavor. (Brad also kindly documented much of the work for me while M and I stayed warm). With new framing outside and reinstalled inside framing, the door became a thing of warm beauty.
With pizza we celebrated the installation of the new door. The guys were able to love on M with power tools, pizza and providing portals without wanting anything in return. Love freely given. In the spring, or at least when it gets above 50, we will paint the door and look at a screen door for the summer months. But for now, M has experienced her version of the feeding of the 5000 where God not only cared for the people’s spiritual needs but their physical needs as well. For M, every time she opens her door, she’ll know that Someone cared.