I don't think I've put a post up that really explains very well about our summer, Bret's roofing, and Oklahoma City. That's actually kind of appropriate - because we thought we had at least a vague idea of what to expect....but it turned out we were kind of wrong...which has made this summer very long, very hectic, and very hard.
We are church planters. Domestic missionaries, missionaries-in-residence, we answer to several different titles. But basically, we are here living our lives in a way that allows God's light to shine into some forgotten corners of the suburbs. We are reaching some folks who when we met them, would have nothing to do with church, Christians, or God. We don't wear suits and ties or heels, we don't have a church building, we don't have microphones or video projectors. We meet in homes or parks or apartment complex clubhouses - places more comfortable than traditional church buildings for the folks we're trying to reach.
In order to do this finanically, we've had to raise our own salary. Every month we recieve checks from friends and family who believe in us and what we're doing, and make it possible for Bret to spend his time talking to waiters and forgotten single moms.
But, we never have been able to raise enough money for our family of five to live on - especially if we want to have enough to do be able to do things like provide quarters and laundry soap when we find out the busy single mom is handwashing her laundry because she doesn't have a few bucks for the washeteria. Or buy a cup of coffee at the local coffeehouse a few days a week so that we can get to know the waitress. Or put our kids in baseball so that we can meet some new families and be in community with them. Or live in a house in a neighborhood with neighbors that we could get to know. (Right now we're in a trailer on some friends' property, with no real accessible neighbors to speak of - except our friends who already know Christ.) You get the idea.
So Bret began substitute teaching on the side to make ends meet. That was good, it was a way to make a little money while still being in the community and meeting people...but the unpredictable schedule ended up making some other aspects of the job hard. Not to mention the unpaid summers and holidays.
So Bret became a roofing contractor. He sells roofs, and the manages the job and the new roof is put on. It started off veeeerrry slow, but eventually began to pick up speed, and we began to have hope of once again making ends meet.
And then Oklahoma was hit with a series of large hail storms in April. Entire cities needed new roofs - it was more than just the roofers in Oklahoma could possibly manage in a timely manner. So Bret's company (who actually has an office in Oklahoma City) decided to buy a few extra cell phones, rent a few apartments, and send a handful of their Texas salesmen up to help. We did the research, talked to a bunch of guys in various positions of roofing, prayed extensively - everyone seemed to think that this was great opportunity, a sure-fire chance to make a really good chunk of money. And it really felt like God was calling Bret to go. Maybe this was the answer to getting us "caught up" and perhaps even into a real house in a neighborhood.
So Bret packed up and left around the end of May. We were expecting him to be gone a month, maybe two...but for the money he made to make it all worth it.
A month, or maybe two has turned into a solid three. We spent all summer with Bret staying in an apartment in OKC during the week, I've basically been a single mom during the week, and then we've been together nearly every weeked. (One weekend we even got to go to OKC and stay in Bret's apartment with him!) During those weekends, Bret's had to split those precious hours with us, catching up on sleep, school, church planting, and even though it's weekend he's still had some roofing business to take care of.
The folks in Oklahoma turned out to be much more hostile toward Texans than expected. Even with a local phone number and local company, the Texas license plate on his truck often meant that this handful of salesmen were ignored, cussed, threatened, even shot at (thankfully not Bret, but a couple of his friends). Since selling to home owners wasn't going as anticipated, Bret and Adam (his brother) decided to take another route. They focused the bulk of their energy on church buildings - the church buildings need new roofs too, and we were hoping that since they had a unique angle ("we're church planters, selling roofs to feed our families"), churches would want to give them some business.
Unfortunately, their experiences knocking on the doors of church buildings and speaking to the staff there was not much different than their experiences knocking of the doors of homes. We were all getting tired and losing hope. But we were in it and couldn't quit. Eventually a couple of homes came through, and one very big job on a church building. And as he's been finishing up those and tying up some loose ends, the summer is coming to a close, and he's beginning the transition of moving back home.
When Bret got home this afternoon, it marked a turning point. For the next month or so, he will (most likely anyway) be spending a most of his time here and only a couple of days a week in OKC until his work there is completely finished. (He's actually still got a couple of roofs to put on, he's just waiting on paperwork to come through and supplies to be shipped.)
Back on the homefront, the Wellsbrothers are getting very ready for school to start. We've been suffering from some end-of-the-summer boredom, and I've been busy trying to get everyone ready for transition and new routine that comes with starting school. So yesterday, I taught them how to make paperchains, hoping that would keep them busy (and not fighting with each other) for awhile.
They quickly discovered that holding the ends of the paper together while squeezing the stapler hard enough to make it staple was pretty hard. So they came up with a system - Micah cut the strips and held the paper together, while Conner stapled. They were happy and busy for awhile...and in the process decided to decorate the house with their paperchains, and have a Welcome Home party for Daddy today.
We ended up with a handful of three- or four-linked chains hanging from some doorknobs, and three about ten-linked chains hanging from the ceiling. They made sure to hang one of them right above Daddy's chair. :)Joey of course, wanted to help. He loves scissors, and is quite good at cutting paper into tiny little shreds. So we had confetti at our party, too.
I made sure that Bret knew to call us when he got close to home...so when he got here, he was greeted with a little "Welcome home Daddy" sign on the door, paper chains hanging randomly from the ceiling, confetti floating through the air, and three very excited boys. I'm pretty sure Bret felt very loved. :) Bret, it's been a long summer babe. We're so thankful for all of your hard work and sacrifices so that we can have a home and food to eat. We're excited to have you around more, and even though they might not be as big as we were hoping, we've all worked hard this summer and are looking forward to getting those checks! Welcome home!