Liz would tell you – as would the kids – that I’m the hardest person in the house to buy for at Christmas.
If I am difficult to buy for (I’ll neither confirm nor deny), you’d never know it from this year’s gift. Liz nailed it and I couldn’t be happier. One of the local gardening centers had a good deal on this 3m x 3m (10′ x 10′) polytunnel.
Fellow gardeners will understand my enthusiasm and putting it together over the past couple of weeks has taught me a few things…
I have 2 problems.
- The east side of our house is lined with pots, most of which are cuttings that I’ve rooted… after trimming this or clipping that.
- I’d love to have a few more home grown veggies, but there’s no room to start seeds indoors, buying set plants is expensive and planting directly usually means a banqueting table for the slugs.
Enter “the gift”
The directions said that it should take 2 people about 2 hours to put together. We managed to stretch that out a bit… by tackling it bit by bit in off hours, when the weather permitted. All in all, I’d say it took the better part of two weeks. (herein lie the lessons)
Why the delay? … There were two things to consider.
#1 – Stability:
It’s a light aluminum frame covered in plastic (doesn’t that sound a bit like a kite?), and since it was going to sit in the most exposed corner of the yard, I needed to anchor it well (they sent tent pegs & twine but I wasn’t convinced that’d be strong enough).
My solution: attach the bottom frame to pressure treated 2x4s (added weight) and attach that to corner posts planted in the ground using 30″ metal stakes.
(Oh yes! I paid attention to that Sunday School song about the wise man & the fooish man, building their houses respectively on the rock and the sand) 🙂
#2 – Longevity:
Even though the wood was pressure treated, I didn’t want to have it in direct contact with the ground. This corner is also the lowest part of the yard so if we get lots of rain… the ground can be soggy (December was like this).
My solution: I put cinderblock-like pavers under the frame, both to keep it from direct contact with the ground as well as to lift it up a couple of inches. The lowest parts got a double layer.
In addition, I also made & added a couple of shelves along the sides, made out of 1″ x 1″ strapping, to be able to start seeds in the Spring (roughly in March), without feeding the field mice or slugs (see photo).
Here are a few things I learned, or at least was reminded of…
- Patience: I’d rather do multiple small projects than one big one, because you’re done faster and can move on to something else. That didn’t work here. I’d have to base my sense of accomplishment and satisfaction on getting one part of the process done… not seeing the end product.
- Creativity: Each side measured 3m (10′) but 2x4s here only come in 2m40 (7′) lengths. Also I couldn’t find gadgets & latches that I’d be used to seeing/using in Canada, so it was a constant game of trying to find an equivalent or coming up with something else.
- Stepping back: Since I’m not a carpenter, making a 10′ length out of smaller ones involved cutting & joining and while I’m familiar with “measure twice, cut once”… it wasn’t enough (* insert eyeroll emoji *). After that every decision involved stepping back & thinking.
- Working alone: Except for one or two instances, I was working alone while the kids did homework or were at school, or while Liz was busy with other things. That slows the pace.
- Keeping the goal in mind: Knowing that the sowing season wasn’t until March, it helped, in moments of uncertainty or frustration (or “do-overs”), to know that it would eventually come together and come March I would be able to start sowing.
These all have parallels in the work that we’re doing here in France. I couldn’t even count the times…
#1 – Patience & Keeping the goal in mind: The building up of a church in France is not the same as attempting the same in areas like South/Central America, the Philippines, etc. Culturally, we’re worlds apart. So patience is indeed a virtue! We have to content ourselves with the smaller, individual steps of progress that we see, keeping the goal in mind: A vibrant thriving community of apostolic believers in Châtellerault.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15.58
#2 – Creativity & Working alone: On a local level, I don’t know how many times I’ve thought, in terms of the church, “We don’t have this…, we don’t have that…” That means that we’ve had to be creative & find a way to do what we want done. This has extended to a “people level” as well. At church back home there was always someone with “this or that” skill set. If we needed something done, there was someone who could do it. Lemme give you two testimonies about that though:
First: Two of the people who’ve come into the church are in the building trade. This means that in terms of the church building, I don’t have to either wait indefinitely (or guess)… the Lord has given us human resources.
Secondly: The Lord put on the heart of the pastor in Bordeaux to come alongside us for several evangelism efforts in 2020.
#3 – Stepping Back: That’s what this past week has been about. Like many in the UPCI, we’ve spent last week and this, involved in more prayer and fasting, and encouraging it in our church. This is part of how we as a family “Step Back” from the business of activity or the frustrating problem / situation and draw closer to the Lord. As if often the case, he turns on a light bulb somewhere and gives us insight into the situation.
Here we Grow!
There are many ways to take that statement…. whether in terms of the greenhouse, where I’ll be growing veggies for the fam or in terms of France where the Lord has stretched us and caused us to grow. Both are true, but as long as something is growing, it’s alive and full of potential, like the beautiful, purple, swelling buds of this French Lilac bush, above. We’re excited about the future in Châtellerault.
Thank you for being part of that journey with us.
God bless you & cause you to grow this week!