Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Recently, we were asked by friend who was going to be out of town, to help him with a project. When I say we, I mean a co-worker and my two daughters. What we were told in advance was that we would be moving a high end, older model display set-up. It was two stories tall, and pretty extensive. It is the kind of thing used at pricey, large scale national trade shows, and though he purchased it for little money, comparatively, it had been quite expensive, originally.

His thoughts were that we would arrive load the display into a rental truck, and haul it to a storage facility. Our expectations were that we would make multiple trips each, carrying the disassembled display and that the whole operation would take around two hours or so. We did not really have any idea. Neither did he, as he had apparently not seen the display in its shipping cases.

We arrived at it's current location to begin the move. The owner of the property directed us to a different place on-site where we could load up.

We drove around to the back to a staging area. We had to be careful as there were several massive crates, randomly standing around the outer rim of the building. We had rented a 17' truck fearing we were getting too much truck for what we were going to move.

We jumped out and talked to the man giving us direction. He said a few words and without telling us where our 'display to move' was, turned to walk away. He said, I'll get a fork lift to help you load."

"A fork lift," we thought. What in the world were we moving?

We said, "can you show us where the display is?"

He turned us around and pointed to the massive shipping crates adorning the outer staging area. "Right there" he said, and then quickly retreated into the building.

I was sure the color had just drained from my face. Those crates were the type loaded onto ships crossing the ocean, or semi's crossing the country. How on earth were we going to move them?

A fork lift showed up as we mumbled in disbelief to each other. Suddenly my daughters did not seem like they would be much help. Not because they couldn't, but to move these we would need men with massive biceps!

The fork lift driver had a much needed sense of humor. Mine in that moment was gone. I was thinking about my 'out-of-town' friend, who had asked for our help.

We began to discuss how we would get the six jumbo shipping units into our puny truck. We devised a plan that with two trips might get all the units off of the dock.

Yes, we might get them off of the dock, but how would we get them back off of the truck? We needed Hercules, Atlas, the Incredible Hulk, and any friends they might have who weren't busy. What we had was my two daughters, my friend David, and me. In case you aren't sure, we have never won any body building contests. We struggle to lift our coffee cup to our mouth in the morning.

The sky grew darker and it wasn't a metaphor. Well, it was, but it also happened physically.

Said fork lift operator maneuvered five crates onto our truck. He double stacked them and David and I attempted to push them around so more could fit. It was all we could do to move them...inches.

The smallest crate was 5x5x5 and weighed 350 lbs. The largest crate stood 10x6x5 and weighed in at half a ton or more. I was dying inside. Who was going to unload these?

We headed off to our storage facility to "unload."

Since we had only received five and half inches of rain in the preceding days, we needed another inch and a half, today if possible.

Those dark skies attempted to lighten their load. The amount of rain falling was apt for that moment. What already seemed impossible was being made frantically humorous by the deluge of precipitation.

The four of us stood huddled in our little storage unit as lightning flashed, thunder boomed and we were figuring out that there was no where near enough space in our 10x10 storage space, which was already full of other "junk."

Our only option was to go to Mr. Storage Unit Man and ask for a bigger unit. We anxiously awaited the opportunity to not only move these six behemoth crates, but now all of the stuff in the current unit, in the pouring rain. Did I mention the only way to unload the truck was to empty the crates of their contents and then drag the shipping boxes (made of plywood and wood planks) from the truck to reload them? Did I happen to mention there was not enough space to open the crates in the truck to empty them of their contents?

I wanted to cry. Then I wanted to scream. Then I wanted to kill...something.

Sirens began to rush to nearby apartments where apparently the lightning had started fires. The rain continued.

We secured a unit twice the size of the original, still unsure we would have enough space.

We called friends and asked if they would like to play in the rain with us. We might have mentioned it involved moving stuff.

We drove our puny little 17' truck with tires rubbing the quarry above around to the new unit. We postulated. I was glad my girls were there. They are smarter than I am. They had good ideas. The problem was, their ideas required strength. We didn't seem to have much of that.

The four of us were able to manipulate the back crate into a position to unload its contents. Once empty, we dragged the crate from the truck, only to discover that all of the weight was in the packing crates and not the contents.

We drug it into the storage room, positioned it, and reloaded.

We attempted to move the next one, and laughed (sociopathic laughter). We had no chance without reinforcements.

We decided this would be a good point to stop and go eat lunch. We called our friends again and tried to bribe them with lunch. None were able to make it. One promised to mobilize some buddies and they would meet us back at the facility.

Breathing a sigh of relief that we were going to have help, we ate.

We picked up one friend and returned. A phone call from the other revealed he was incapacitated in high water from the deluge of rain. He would not be coming. However, he had called another friend who was en route.

The six of us were able to unload the other four crates. We truly strained and struggled, and grunted and moaned, but we got them off.

David and Lauren went back to get the biggest one, still waiting to be picked up. The rest of us began the walk between storage units, carrying piece by piece each prize within.

Upon their return, we laughed at just how massive this last piece was. It teetered on the wheel well frames of our little truck. It was bigger than we remembered. Had we enough space left?

We emptied this crate of it's contents and began to twist and turn the huge packing edifice to get it down.

Once on the ground it was clear it would only fit in the unit in one way...and not the way we intended. We had to improvise, but we got it in.

Wet, tired, but now a bit giddy, we celebrated being done. It had only take the whole day. Our friends left and we mounted up to leave and...click. The truck battery was dead.

No, I'm not kidding.

We were able to secure jumper cables and get it restarted.

I saw so much of me in this experience. I tend to look at each hurdle as insurmountable. I grow too quickly frustrated. The task was large. However, with cool heads, planning and help, we got it done. I have the bruises to prove it.

Each of these huge crates represented a stress that I needed to give to the Lord. The situation did not seem that it could have gotten any more difficult, and yet he provided. We had to find joy in the process.

It was hard to envision the value of what was inside those crates as being worth the effort. How often is the value of what is inside of us, unseen because of the rough and bulky exterior?

Wow. I don't want to do that again.



At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a great storyteller... and apparently quite strong

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't imagine what this must have been like to go through - wow! You guys persevered and finished the task - congratulations on a job well done! What good friends you are!!!

At 1:05 PM, Blogger natenamy said...

HI All--

We just wanted to post and say that we are thinking about you and miss you all loads.

Lauren, CONGRATULATIONS on your graduation (and sorry it's late).

Glad that you all get to spend some time together before you take off to your seperate destinations around the world for summer 2007 missions trips. We will be praying for safety for everyone. Also praying that there are many awesome opportunities for witnessing... and that many join His forever family through your work.

We love you!

Nate and Amy

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Marti Pieper said...

I think you DO want to do that again: in your heart, in your spirit, and in your ministry.

In just a few weeks, you will encounter several student missionaries, and even some lost people, who have "rough and bulky exteriors." Because God has already told you about the treasure within, you will allow Him to help you in moving them, taking them exactly where they need to be.

You'll drag. You'll push. You'll feel like giving up--but you'll get them there, depending on Him to do what you cannot do on your own.

We're all praying for you as you allow His strength to pour in power through your weakness. And remember--you're doing it all for a Friend!

with tender love
and prayers in pink,


At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but that was funny.

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