When Everyone Helped

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Joseph Anderson Donetti carefully carried the big glass salad bowl up the steps to the fireside room. G.M. held the door open for him. A burst of warm air, good smells, and happy conversation greeted them.

“It looks like we just made it in time!” G.M. whispered in his ear. “Put the salad on the table over there,” she instructed.

Joseph found a place to set his bowl. He looked at the other salads that were already on the table. There was a yummy-looking potato salad and a fruit salad with kiwis and bananas and a Jell-O salad and a macaroni salad. Joseph’s mouth began to water.

Pastor Chuck clapped his hands together. “I think we can start our meeting now,” he said, looking at his watch. “We’ll all enjoy our supper better after our planning is done.”

Joseph’s stomach rumbled. He didn’t think he could wait until after the business meeting to eat. He was starving! He slid onto a folding chair next to Trevor.

“Guess what!” Trevor said. “My mom made blackberry pie! Two blackberry pies!”

Joseph groaned. Now he was absolutely sure he couldn’t wait to eat!

“OK,” Pastor Chuck began, “you all know we are here to talk about our building project—the new mother’s room for the church. To start off, I’d like to read a verse from the book of Exodus. It’s from the story of when the children of Israel were asked to give offerings so that the Tabernacle of the Lord could be built. The children of Israel didn’t just give things—they gave their time and their abilities as well. That’s kind of like what we need here now. We’ll need money for our project, of course. But we’ll also need your time and your special abilities.”

Pastor Chuck thumbed through the pages of his Bible. “ ‘So all the people left Moses and went to their tents to prepare their gifts. If their hearts were stirred and they desired to do so, they brought to the Lord their offerings of materials for the tabernacle,’ ” he read.

“I think I will just tell you what needs to be done,” Pastor Chuck went on, “and then I’ll ask for volunteers. If your heart is stirred and you desire to do so, you may volunteer to help.

“First, we’ll need some carpenters. Some folks who are able to cut out a space for a window and install the glass. I could probably knock a hole in the wall, but it wouldn’t look very professional,” he added.

Everybody laughed.

Mr. Selby raised his hand. “I think my brother and I could take care of that,” he drawled.

“Great!” Pastor Chuck exclaimed. “Now how about the carpet? Is there anyone who knows how to lay carpet?”

Mr. Watson raised his hand. “My boys and I volunteer for that,” he said.

“Good!” Pastor Chuck said. He wrote their names down in his notebook. “We’re going to need furniture,” he went on. “Is there someone who would like to see about finding a couple of good used cribs and some rocking chairs?”

Miss Mattie raised her hand. “We have a spare rocking chair at our house,” she said. “It’s old. It’s rocked plenty of babies in its time. But I don’t think it’s worn out yet.”

Trevor’s mom raised her hand. “I can ask around about cribs,” she said.

“Good!” Pastor Chuck carefully wrote down each volunteer’s name and what he or she promised to do. “Painting,” he said, looking up. “We’ll need help painting the room.”

Mac jumped up. Her red curls bounced. “We can do that!” she exclaimed waving her arms. “The kids can do that! I always wanted to paint a room! And maybe we could even paint something special on one of the walls. Like a Bible picture. Maybe animals and a big ark and a rainbow or something. G.M. could help us make it look nice!”

Pastor Chuck raised his eyebrows and looked at G.M.

G.M. grinned. “Sure,” she said. “The kids and I can handle the painting.”

Joseph twisted around to look at G.M., who was sitting right behind him. “Maybe I could write a Bible verse around the top of the wall,” he said eagerly.

“Me, too!” Trevor chimed in. “I always wanted to write on walls!”

“That’s a good idea,” G.M. agreed. “We’ll talk about it.”

Pastor Chuck overheard Joseph’s suggestion. “There is a Bible verse on the wall in the mother’s room of my home church,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “It says, ‘We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.’ ”

All the grown-ups laughed.

Trevor’s dad stood up. “Let’s take a special offering for our project before we end our meeting,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if pretty soon Pastor Chuck had to tell us to stop giving—that we already have enough money and volunteers to complete the project?”

“Great idea!” Pastor Chuck exclaimed. He looked around the room. “Do I have any volunteers to pick up the offering?” he asked with a smile. “Then maybe the offering collectors could be first in line to eat.”

Joseph’s and Trevor’s hands shot into the air.

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