Between visits to churches, we plunged into the work of finishing our little house. It is amazing the number of details that need to be taken care of before a house is ready to be lived in.
One big “detail” was building the chimney. I got a price from a mason, but it was so far over the costs of the materials that I decided to do it myself. We didn’t have much to spare and every $1000 saved was a huge help!
However, I was unable to find a book on how to build your own chimney. Around that time we visited a church in northern New England and after the service I was chatting with a fellow; when I asked him what he did for a living, he said, “I am a mason.”
When I told him about my project and of my total ignorance of masonry, he gave me a quick tutorial in chimney-building. He emphasized the wisdom of using round tiles instead of the conventional rectangular ones. The round ones, he said, were much less likely to crack in a chimney fire, because they would all heat up evenly. Here again was God’s provision just when we needed it.
So we set to work building the chimney, from the cellar up through the roof, about twenty-five feet in height. Although a mason said he could do it in one day, it took me two weeks, working for a couple of hours each day. When I was finished, I had a lot of respect for masons, hoisting those forty pound cement blocks all day long.
Near the end of the summer, our faithful helper/advisor John organized a group from our church to come on a Saturday and finish putting on all the vinyl siding. That was one full day of activity for which we were very thankful! Another church also sent a team on two separate days to help with the finish work. Without such help we would not have gotten it all done.
During the building process we saw many times when God’s hand protected us. When Nat and I were hoisting a large beam up to the peak of the roof, it fell from our grasp, cutting into the plywood floor, but completely missing both of us. Another time Nat fell from a high ladder but landed on his feet without any injury at all.
When the man from the electric company came to attach the wires from the street to our house, he was pointing out something to me by touching some wires in the main electrical box. When I reached my hand out to touch them also, he slapped my hand away.
“Those are live wires with 220 volts in them!” he exclaimed. “I can touch them because I have rubber gloves on and rubber boots. If you had touched them you would have been killed!” That gave me the chills.
At one point near the end of the day when we were all tired, I dropped some tools down from the roof. My hammer fell at an angle, bounced and spun down the cellar stairs, just missing my nephew who was on his way up.
Then God’s final act of mercy and protection came right as we were finishing the driveway. A friend came with his small pickup truck to help me gather up rocks to fill in the area.
After one trip his pickup got stuck in the loose gravel, so I went behind to push. As he gunned the motor, the spinning rear wheel dug up a rock a little smaller than a football and threw it at high speed right into my leg, hitting me full force on my shin.
The combination of the speed and size of the rock should have broken my leg. I looked down and saw that it appeared to be alright: no bones sticking out. I put some weight on it and it did not collapse. There was, however, a big gash and each time my heart beat, a large spurt of blood came out.
I hobbled to the porch. Barbara just happened to be looking out the window when this happened, and immediately came with two freshly ironed handkerchiefs. I sat down, and she wrapped one handkerchief around my leg, tying it tightly with the other. That stopped the “fountains of blood.” I rested there for five minutes and then went back to work without any further ill effects.
We were just two weeks away from leaving again for the Middle East. If my leg had been broken, it would have made it much more difficult— if not impossible—for us to finish things up. We were so very thankful for God’s intervention, not realizing that this event would bring both trouble and more praise in the near future.