Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Showers Saga - 17: BREAKTHROUGH!

We all bring various gifts to the table when it comes to getting this job done -- building the showers facility at Carrall Street Church -- and one of the gifts Barry Babcook, the senior pastor, has is to keep things realistic but positive. Barry has been dealing with an interesting two-way spiritual stretch over the past month: dealing with the reality, while trying to keep me from getting discouraged.

Sometimes, in fact, you hear a preacher say in a sermon, "I'm preachin' myself happy up here!". It's a lot like that, I think.

Let me explain. Near the house where I grew up in West Van, there lived a 30something woman who drove a big black Pontiac Trans-Am. She would drive up to the corner beside our house, which led off Marine Drive onto a steep hill, then punch the accelerator and go screaming up the hill.

Lately, it's felt like our project was a but like that Trans-Am, only stuck in deep mud. Standing on the gas pedal only drives the car deeper into the mud and the only way to get out is to just Let It Happen. It's been those "little" delays that can add up here and there, and it was starting to get frustrating.

Barry, who has dealt with building and city permits and tradespeople (and is one, himself), has had to fall back on his aphorism that "God comes through in the 11th hour, 59th minute". It's become our rallying cry.

Fact is, God comes through in what we think is the 11th hour, 59th minute: but for Him, it's exactly On Time.

Or, here's a parable Barry used: a construction site can appear to be a hole in the ground for a long time, but during that time, there's ant-hill-like activity putting in the necessary things like electrical, plumbing and gas. Then, once that is finished, you go walking down the street past what you thought was a hole up till yesterday, and there's a 30-unit complex in its place. Remembering that is also encouraging.

Well, the "hole" that was 327 Carrall Street is about to be replaced by the complex. The City of Vancouver inspected and passed the plumbing*, and we are now, suddenly, on the home stretch. The final plumbing connections will go in in the coming week, and the work party from The Oasis will be back on Saturday, April 19, for the work blitz to complete the walling-in. Then comes the painting and decorating, and Lord willing, we can turn on the taps and start cleaning up this town!

Of course, I won't say anything about an actual start-up date yet. But it's coming quickly, praise God!

Earlier this month, a group of us met to discuss operations matters: what times the project would be open, who would volunteer, how we'd administer the service, and so forth. The Lord's Rain will be open Wednesday mornings, 7-8:30 and Saturday mornings, 7-10 for men and Friday evenings for women. We have a core group of volunteers to oversee the operations, and are now assembling a roster of others ready to commit some time to helping out. It doesn't have to be for every opening, but just committing certain days a month would be great.

Arlene in New York has become our liaison with Pastor Reggie at the Bowery Mission, and they've already had a good chat about operations there. It seems they employ a combination of easy rules and toughness to make sure things stay orderly, which is the way I like it. Note to all of us: one of the biggest problems they have is with towels disappearing (Arlene says they've been known to tear up t-shirts for towels), so if you have any towels you'd like to donate, please contact Kathy Kinahan at Arlene is researching a source for disposable towels, too: someone anonymously donated three months' supply of those to the Bowery, but Reggie says he can't find the supplier, so whatever Arlene finds will benefit operations on both coasts!

One of my neighbours says she'll pick up some underwear and socks for the project -- changing into something clean -- at least with the underwear -- is important, and until we can get a clothing exchange up to speed, if anyone else would like to donate underwear and socks, that would be tremendous.

We did a presentation on the project last month to the AGM of the Gospel Mission Society, and I'll be giving an update this week to the ACOP Pastors' Conference in Surrey. One of the main points of all this has been the way people have come together to make this work. People with different skills and gifts and ideas, coming up with questions and solutions that no one person could have thought of. I keep thinking about Paul's comment about "many members ... fitly joined together". If you come up with ideas, or think of an area that might not be covered, or think of something you can do to help out, let me know.

One more thing: CTV is doing a follow-up story, which will air Sunday, April 13. It's the 50th anniversary of the network, and Peter Grainger -- who did the story that mentioned the theft in February, and which led to a major donation to get things back on track ("The Lord always has a ram in the bush," as Kenny Black put it) -- was asked to do a piece on any news items that have made a difference in the community. He thought of The Lord's Rain and we did an interview. It was a pleasure to be able to point out how the story helped give us a much-needed boost, and led to further confirmation that the Lord has His hand firmly on this project, and when He does that, nothing can get in His way.

*This is not to be confused with the notice, purportedly placed in a Hong Kong hotel room, stating "Customers will be assured that all drinking water has been personally passed by Management."

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