The place was not what we had expected.
We had been on the road for 4 days. We had travelled 2200 km from Calgary to Whitehorse. We had finally arrived at our new home; a rental near the church where I would be working.
Our home in Alberta has not yet sold, so we decided to rent for a year. We’d save buying a home until we had a bit more equity and a good lay of the land on the best place to buy in Whitehorse.
We pulled up to our new home, filled with wonder and excitement. Following God’s call to the Yukon had been almost a decade in coming, so joy had filled our hearts.
The joy subsided slightly as we entered our new home.
We soon discovered that our new home was not up to par. The photos we had seen weeks earlier did not adequately portray the townhouse. The idea of renting was to avoid the weeks of cleaning and renovating. This would not be the case.
Regardless, the details of the unkept unit are not important. What is important is the events that followed.
We ended up staying in a B&B the first night in Whitehorse, instead of spending the whole night cleaning. We had church the next morning, so we wanted to get a good rest. We could start the clean-up on Sunday afternoon.
What came next overwhelmed us.
At the beginning of the service, the Lead Pastor announced that we had arrived. Everyone seemed pleased to see us in church, considering I didn’t officially start for another week.
Then he announced that we could use a little help in the afternoon, cleaning our new place. We were so thankful to hear that. Even a couple of extra hands would be a huge help.
We did not expect an army of cleaners.
It was awesome! Almost 20 people showed up after lunch that day. They brought all sorts of cleaning supplies and materials. That crew completed more in a few hours then we could have accomplished in a week.
I can’t adequately describe how blessed we felt.
That was 3 days ago. As is the case with most things, time to reflect provides further insight into an experience. I’ve had a few days to think about it and I see the situation quite differently now.
In retrospect, I’m glad our arrival to Whitehorse happened how it did. And here’s why:
1. We got to know their stories.
As we worked, Nicole and I were able to connect with a number of men and women. Great introductory conversation. “What’s your name? What do you do for work? Where do you serve in the church?” All the small talk that happens in church foyers, but much more relaxed in that setting.
These men and women were of different ages and demographics. They all had a different story to tell about how they arrived in the Yukon. So many interesting journeys.
For a few, they had stories of what it was like to be 2nd or 3rd generation Yukoners. One women’s grandfather used to run trap-lines for a living. How cool is that?
2. They got to know our story.
It takes months for the average church member to get to know a new pastor and his family. There’s so many people striving to get a small conversation in.
It’s almost impossible, within those first couple of weeks, for the congregation to find out who they really are. Church foyer banter just doesn’t cut it.
On the other hand, you can learn a lot about someone when your working side-by-side. Because your busy and focused on a task, there’s no awkwardness or silenced breaks in the conversation.
3. Receiving is harder than giving.
We were on the receiving end of Paul’s encouragement found in Romans 12: “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (12:13) We needed help and these folks shared in our need.
In ministry, that’s really difficult. Our family is passionate about helping and reaching out to others. It’s want we do. It’s what we’re called to do. Receiving this kind of service is so much more difficult than giving it.
Working together builds community.
As a pastor, this experience has opened my eyes even wider to the necessity for churches to plan and promote frequent service projects. (Obviously, not just projects that benefit the pastor.)
Our church members will find themselves working beside others whom they generally might not socialise with. They will find out who they really are, and trump any conversation that might take place in the church foyer.
How has your church family come to your aid in a time of need? Explain the impact on you and your household.