Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Here is Tylor's "Year In Review". For Brianna's, click HERE. For Corban's, click HERE.
This past year has most likely been the most life-changing year in my life so far. I have learned so many things and have grown in many ways that expressing it in words will be difficult. About a year ago we moved from Omaha, NE to the church building here in Monett, MO. It has certainly been a blessing to live among people who simply strive to follow Jesus and take His teachings seriously.
Something that continues to challenge me about the people here is their willingness to pour their time and resources into the kingdom of God, and bringing glory to Him. They take Jesus seriously when He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all …” (Matt. 28:19-20). The men go and preach at different cities around Monett about every Friday and Saturday night. They bring the same simple message that Jesus brought when He preached to the multitudes some two thousand years ago. They stand at regular spots in the party zones of bigger cities and hold signs with the plain teachings of Jesus on them. Usually a few of them go to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and a few go to Springfield, Missouri. Some go to preach at a little tourist town in Arkansas too called Eureka Springs on Sundays. If there’s ever a worldly event taking place anywhere, such as a cage fight or motor cycle rally, they go and preach there too. Some of the brothers and sisters from here are staying in other countries to be an encouragement to small groups of people scattered here and there. The Rohrers, a family that used to be here, moved back down to Mexico just a few months ago. Brothers Olen and Brian (Brian left here a few weeks ago) are living in Peru. Also, David Keeling (the pastor here in Monett) goes and ‘checks’ on various groups of people who are trying to follow Jesus in different countries. These people, from what I understand, are people who were hungry for truth and wanted someone to come visit/fellowship. David goes to a different country about once a month. The main places he goes are Columbia, Peru, the Philippines, India and Mexico.
Seeing all these real examples of men faithfully preaching Christ has made a tremendous impact on my life. It has convicted and prompted me to let my light shine to the world more. When it seems appropriate, I sometimes go with the men to hold a sign and also just to stand there and listen to them talk to others. Because I am a really shy person, I have found it to be a great struggle to preach the truth to others without getting really nervous. But I never want to give up trying, even though I have so much to learn.
Another thing that has really impacted me about this group is the simplicity of David’s teaching on Sundays. Aside from being simple and to the point, David practices what he preaches, giving his teaching much weight. For the most part, the brothers and sisters don’t just speak about Christianity, they live it out practically. Not much emphasis is put on the Sunday service here, but rather on doing what is taught in the Bible. David once said, “Sunday is the most phony day out of the week.” What he meant by this is that anyone can go to church, wear the right clothes, and say the right things, but are they following Jesus through the whole week? The practical teaching here has definitely caused me to think more about what I am doing in my every day life to bring glory to God. Living with people whose goal is to love God with all their heart has also helped me to stay on the narrow way when the going gets tough, and just to be more open and honest when I stray from the right path.
Besides the lessons that I’ve been learning in my spiritual life, I’ve also had much opportunity to learn how to work and do many different things. Since we’ve lived here I’ve been working for David whenever he needs me. He lives in his own little room on the main floor off the sanctuary, which makes it convenient when he has work for me because I can just go with him when he leaves. David works for his brother Kevin who has around 4,000 acres of land (I think). Most of this land is used for cow pasture, and some of it is farmed. David takes care of Kevin’s cattle, fixes fences, plants crops, and everything else that goes along with running a farm business. When we used to live in Omaha before we moved here, I knew very little about working. Pretty much the only things that kept me busy were schoolwork, house chores and yard work. Since we’ve lived here at the church though, David has taught me a lot about farm work, and just every day practical common sense. He has a way of guiding me that has helped me to be more responsible. For example, the first thing that he bought me was a pair of leather work gloves. I can remember that when he brought them for me, he told me to keep track of them. This of course was easy enough tot understand, but (for me:) not easy to practice. Not too long after I had those gloves, I left them in someone’s truck who happened to be going on a trip the next day. The next time I worked for David, he let me pick up big rocks all day without gloves – this helped me to better keep track of them when I got them back. This lesson among many, many others, has helped me to pay better attention tom y things, and to not be so careless or spacey. As David tells me a lot, “You are never too poor to pay attention.”
The months rolled by, and little by little David taught me to do more and more useful skills. He started me off doing simple, but laborious tasks such as picking up rocks and sticks, cleaning up trash, splitting and stacking wood, burning brush piles, and other jobs like that. For the most part, I really enjoyed working hard because it kept me busy and I loved to be out in God’s beautiful creation. But sometimes I didn’t feel like doing a certain job, and it took longsuffering and diligence to keep chipping away at it. A lot of times, dragging big sticks around, and uprooting large stones from the mud all day got to be boring pretty fast. I have learned though that the more unpleasant a job is, the more of a blessing it becomes. Unpleasant jobs have helped me to become more patient and faithful in whatever I have to do, whether it is plain every day work, or God’s work.
As I kept toiling at these same jobs week after week, David soon taught me how to drive a tractor, a stick shift truck, and a four-wheeler. So I graduated from picking up rocks and throwing them into a hole somewhere, to filling the tractor bucket with them and dumping them into the craters of uprooted trees. I can remember well when I first stepped foot into the cab of the big John Deere. I had barely driven anything in my life before, and David asked me one day if I would like to try to drive the tractor. I told him that I had never driven before, but I would like to . After David explained how to drive it, and after I had asked about a hundred questions to clarify, I cautiously climbed into the cab. All the levers and peddles and buttons seemed to scramble my brain, and I hardly had a clue what all David’s sign language meant. So I just had to get out and ask more questions! Slowly but surely I learned to drive the beastly tractor after nearly running David over while trying to decode more of his sign language. I felt very awkward in the tractor at first, and made many silly mistakes, but I guess that’s just all part of the learning process.
Learning to govern farm vehicles wasn’t the only challenge that I faced though. I have a pretty bad sense of direction and have always had a hard time finding my way around. One time David asked me to drive the stick-shift truck to East Purdy, and turn left at a certain place off C Highway. The total distance was about 5 miles from Kevin’s farm where we started. Driving on roads to get somewhere was something that I had never done before, and it was hard to imagine that I, a boy who could hardly find my way out of a doctor’s office, would be fit for this task. I told David that I didn’t really know how to drive on a highway and would be very uncomfortable doing so. David just grinned and frankly told me, “Just stay on your side of the road.” But he decided that he would drive, and that I could just ell him where to turn. While we were driving, David got me talking about something, and I completely forgot to tell him where to turn! He passed the turn and kept on driving about a mile while I was yakking to him about something. Sensing that something didn’t feel quite right, I looked at David. Lo and behold, David was looking at me with a wry smile on his face that seemed to say, “Remember what I told you?” I remembered right away, and apologized for not paying attention. Not too long after that I got my learner’s permit, and I am getting better at driving on roads and finding my way around.
As I got better at driving the tractor, David put me to work stacking large round bails of hay in rows so that they could be hauled and stored at Kevin’s farms. It took me a while to get used to using an arm that doesn’t have feeling in it, but after days of practice I am now starting to get the hang of it. David also recently taught me how to mow a field with a big brush hog (a large flat mower with three blades that hooks on to the back of the tractor). At first I rode with David so that I could watch him do it. Watching how he swiftly avoided obstacles made the job look fairly easy. When I was my turn though I found it to be trickier than it looked. I made the mistake of driving the brush hog right over a small boulder sticking out of the ground. I was so busy at looking back to see that the brush hog was mowing straight, that I was surprised with the fast, loud banging noise of metal against stone! Thankfully I remembered the off but ton to stop the blades from spinning and I immediately hit it. David reminded me of what Jesus said in Luke 9:62 about putting your hand to the plow and not looking back. From then on I looked straight ahead and only glanced back occasionally to see if I was mowing everything correctly. I am so thankful that David took the time to teach me all of these things; he has helped me in so many ways, and is like a dad to me. He isn’t afraid to teach me hard lessons, and make me do hard things that ware me out :).
Other than the somewhat regular work I’ve had with David throughout this year, I’ve also worked a good amount for Joe Yoder (another brother here at church). Joe is a very skilled “Jack of all trades.” He can do carpentry, plumbing, construction, masonry, and many other things like that. Even though I was mostly just a tool gofer for Joe, I learned a lot by watching him work. I had the privilege of helping him put metal roofs on a few houses, frame in a garage door, remodel a bathroom, and replace some widows for people. I like working with Joe because he uses few words to tell me what to do and does not say ‘please’; this way I have no question of what I supposed to do. Joe says, “I guess it’s because I’m a German.” I’ve also learned a lot from Joe’s helper, John Hopper (John, his wife Becky and their two children used to live at the church with us). John is a good electrician, and I got to help him with a couple of wiring jobs.
These last few months I’ve been able to make some money every week to help mom with food expenses. David put me on the payroll, and now Kevin Keeling pays me whenever I work for David. So basically I am one of Kevin’s employees. I was excited to receive my first official paycheck for stacking hay a few months ago. I also work for an older coup about three times a week whose names are Al and Robin Brumley. They live in the country and have a big yard with plenty of work that needs done to it. I have done a lot of different little things around their yard like tearing vines off trees, cleaning fences, pulling weeds, trimming bushes and trees, and other similar jobs. The next job that I am supposed to do for them is scrape and paint an old metal fence, and also paint a few fence posts. Not very long ago, Joe Yoder told me that he’d pay me by the hour whenever he needs some help. I recently helped him a few days to paint the fascia board on Al and Robin’s house. It has definitely been a blessing to learn how to work for a living, and to be able to help my mom out. But In learning all these new skills, I often have to remind myself not to become proud in my success, and get caught up in earthly pursuits. My one and only goal should be to glorify God, and to use my money for His work.
That is yet another thing that impressed me about a lot of the brothers and sisters here. They don’t store up their riches here on this earth, and they are very willing to give to those who are in need. I wouldn’t be able to count how many times someone has helped us with money. After all, if Wilbur Graybill (a brother here) wouldn’t have offered to pay the gas to visit Monett the first time, we probably wouldn’t have came.
I am sure I could write so much more than this, but I think it might boarder on too much to read. This year has been packed full of life lessons that have blessed me beyond words. They have strengthened my desire to live for my Creator. I praise God for leading us to Monett, Missouri!