Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Barrel

Stuff on the moving truck, 2004

This was written in 2003 before a furlough...

I have an old barrel in the shed behind my house.  It was packed in the summer of 1992 or maybe 1993, I can’t remember which.  I had resigned from my teaching position at a Christian school.  I taught fourth grade and loved it.  The barrel is filled with all the books from my personal lending library.  My fourth graders could check out a book from our classroom library and return it within a reasonable amount of time.  I bought most of the books from those Scholastic papers and received many from bonus points.  Some I bought from clearance tables at my favorite book shops.  Some I had from when I was an avid fourth grade reader.

A friend’s daughter helped me write the name of each book in a notebook, so each one could be carefully accounted.  I made detailed lists of what went into all the barrels I prepared to be shipped to Brazil.  Little did I know that my barrels would not accompany me on my first term of missionary service….

It took Byron  and I three long years and close to four to raise our support to leave for the field.  Still lacking, we heard that the missionary academy in Fortaleza needed an elementary teacher for the coming year.  And so we were able to come without our full support with the understanding that we could stay the year to help fill in at the mk academy and then potentially finish out a four year term if we were doing well enough financially.

Not knowing if we would be gone for just one year or for four, I decided to only take what I considered the necessities.  My teaching barrels were left behind along with many others filled with a variety of objects.  We made it through that year.  We didn’t have enough money to buy a car, we went everywhere by bus.  We made it through four years.  We built a church and had two sons.  And by the end of the four years we had two cars!

Finally my barrels were shipped by sea container to Fortaleza in 1999.  Still one old barrel full of books remained unopened.  I knew exactly what was in it.  I had a complete list.  None of the books were for toddlers or preschoolers, so it was put in the shed.  Now I am getting ready to move to another state and go on furlough.  What should I do with that barrel?  I will send it on.  In 2004 I plan to open it.  I think I will have a party that day to celebrate.  My boys will finally be ready to read those fourth grade level books.  I will be ready to teach them as I will have to homeschool them when we move to our new place of ministry after furlough.  The barrel will be opened.

God’s will and timing is a funny thing.  We have great plans and go about making our decisions.  Yet He knows the future and the path we will take.  Sad to be leaving the city we have come to call home, Fortaleza.  Sad to leave our friends.  Sad to say good-bye to the place where all three of our children were born.  But knowing that God has a plan and we will follow.  Knowing that His plan is best and He will provide all that is necessary - like the books that three elementary boys will need in Bahia, Brazil. 

Sobradinho, Bahia, 2004

That old barrel full of books has served us well over the years!


  1. I'm happy you kept those books all that time.I use to think they would never leave the garage. It didn't matter that they were there many things were left and still are but that's okay.My concern was that they would never come to life in the hands of young readers.I'm glad to be reminded that they did over and over again.

  2. Reading old post today and letting tears flow.Funny how I hardly ever cry.. but today.. I'm missing all of you. We realize what you give up to serve our gracious God.But we know what rewards await you one day. With love Mom

  3. Reading this old post again and shedding tears While the old barrels were lined up in the garage not being opened I often wondered if the books were okay in there but I could never look then one day. Byron or you needed something important in a barrel and Daddy opened each one.When that barrel was opened I could see they were fine spending dark days alone waiting to be read again.I'm glad for all the books that have passed on to be read.It's sad that so many children no longer read. With love Mom ps I still children's books !


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