I’m terrible with tools. I don’t particularly feel handy or efficient with regular tools, such as hammers or screwdrivers. I’ve never worn a tool belt. I’ve also never owned or operated a loud, dangerous power tool. I’m adventurous, yes, but I know my limits. HGTV is just going to have to find their newest star somewhere else.
Last month, instead of traveling out of state for our annual summer mission trip, our youth group stayed local to serve our community. We did not gather as a large group due to COVID considerations and instead worked in smaller work teams around the city for the full week. The work projects varied from yard work to painting to cleaning to organizing to building. Almost all were outside in the hot, summer heat. Sometimes loving on others means putting in a little sweat equity to get it done.
My small-group girls (who will be seniors next year) were assigned to build Habitat homes in a neighborhood devastated by the tornado in May 2019. This is a project near and dear to my heart because it’s the neighborhood I live in.
Although our house wasn’t leveled from the tornado and we were safe that night in the basement, so many houses were destroyed in an instant, including many families who were barely getting by before the tornado. It feels like positive progress to see new Habitat for Humanity houses going up — including four on the same street — and to witness work teams helping to rebuild.
As excited as I was by the vision of our work, I’m a practical girl. The thought of myself and all of these girls — strong and amazing, but definitely not construction-savvy — building houses from the ground up WITH POWER TOOLS seemed overwhelming. Daunting really. Our hearts are willing to serve, but will our hands be able to do the work? Will we be able to manage the work in 90+ degree heat for five days straight? Can we work seamlessly together as a small group, including with other volunteers on the worksite, and do this big thing?
You know who doubts? I do. You know who doesn’t? God, the one with the plan. It was an incredible week! All of us were inspired by the mission of Habitat, which is to build affordable housing for families and improve places to call home.
We served next to volunteers, who were 40 to 50 years older than our youth and experienced builders that showed us every task and then worked hard right alongside us. These girls did it all, including framing bathtubs, putting up soffit, and sealing seams. I teared up several times seeing them in action.
There was also a lot of emotion at meeting the homeowner, including working side-by-side with them on their new home. We worked together. We sweated together. We talked together. We also got to write words of encouragement on the beams of the house, such as “be kind,” “love lives here,” and “my people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Isaiah 32:18.” Love was everywhere.
By the end of the week, we were tired, sunburnt, and blistered. We were also happy. While this may not have been our regularly scheduled plan for the summer, it was exactly where we needed to be.
Every time we drive by these houses, which will be often because the street is close to the high school, we will be reminded of what love can do. We will remember how much our neighbors need us. We will not doubt the bigger plan even when power tools are involved. We will be praying — for these families, for hope, and for beautiful, new beginnings.
Heather Feeler feels more comfortable with construction tools, but she’s not quite ready for her own tool belt. She is planning to help on more Habitat builds in the future.