Yep, like most of you, I remember when and where I was on “9/11”. When it started, as it progressed and when I made the decision to turn the station off.
I was standing in a local ‘Family Dollar Store’ checkout line with a few items I picked up on the way to the construction site. I just stood there stunned as we heard the report of the explosion; a ‘bomb’ in the World Trade Center. I got to the site and had the radio set up (which I’d brought along to play music during the build) just in time to hear that it was not a bomb but a plane. It was not until a short time later when they said a second plane hit the other Tower that we heard the words terrorist attack.
Suddenly, everyone on the construction site just stopped functioning. Then slowly we all went back to work, as if in slooowww motion. Someone who was stationed at the table with the radio, the food, the registrations etc (see above picture) found poster board and started writing down the events as they occurred and hung it on one of the poles. We heard there were at least 2 more hijacked planes in the air, then we heard one hit the Pentagon. Since most of us there were Christians, we began to fervently pray, if only by ourselves, for that fourth plane. Maybe, just maybe, all the prayers that went up, all over the country at that time, provided the strength and courage that the passengers of the flight needed to become the heroes they were in bringing down that plane so that the amount of lives lost were limited.
I think you could have crushed our hearts when we heard that the first tower fell. We were all in disbelief. No one wanted to hear anymore, and yet we were almost morbidly ‘tuned in’ to the next piece of information. By lunch time, I made the decision to turn the station. Enough was enough. I’d brought it so that our new home would be filled with the love and sounds of praise, not despair and fear. I felt so bad for the gentleman who manned the supply trailer out front. He’d sat in that trailer all day with a radio, and I just watched him sink, deeper and deeper. It broke my heart. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Neither evidently did he. Never again has he had a radio to keep him company when he’s manning the supply trailer, and he said to me – “and you know why”.
We were on day 2 of our local Building on Faith Week project for York Habitat for Humanity. Actually, it was a ministry wide event, if I remember right, all over the world that week. It was to our blessing that it happened to be our house being built. September 10 was a blast of a day, even when it rained buckets and we had no less than an inch of water laying on the flooring all through the house. We laughed and just had so much fun. And oh the look on the neighbors faces as they came home. They kept saying, “we left this morning and there was this slab. We came home and now there’s a house!”
Tuesday and Wednesday, I just wanted to send everyone home, and say, we’ll finish this later. I kept being asked if I was excited about my new house, but all I could think was how could I be? The whole world was in mourning and here I’m suppose to be rejoicing? My heart just couldn’t do it yet. But a minister’s wife, who’d I’d met on Mon and was a big part of the planning, hugged me, and said – “Just let them do what they need to do. They need to know there is still good in this world.”
Funny, for months I’d been hearing almost that same line from God. Every time I was overwhelmed by the love and efforts poured out – and it was and then some – I’d heard, ‘Just let them do what they need to do’. They were doing all this for and with us, and yet, in the end, they did it as much for themselves and each other even more. We had so many donations come in that the cost and supplies covered the cost of the house (which we still pay the full price on – so there ended up two houses for the cost of one!). We had something like 40-50 some churches and businesses that came together for the build. Big churches and tiny backwoods churches here. Even our dedication service included 6-10 pastors. We had a plumber and an electrician working in the same tiny space (our utility room) hooking things up at the same time. I’m told that NEVER happens. Come to think of it, we heard that statement over and over from the start of it the whole process till long after. Even the volunteer’s list for building shifts filled up so fast that even our own church members and friends missed out on helping us build. (With the exception of the handful we recruited to help move the foundation blocks when they were delivered due to a scheduling issue. Ha! God just wanted to give us the chance to stand in the foundations and have prayer as part of the very foundation of our home)
So, it’s taken me a while to really understand, but I think I do. When it looks like the whole world around you is crashing in, you do need to know that there is still good in it. Even better when you can be a part of it. And many were. It took a little while, but spirits during the build began to lift. I think it really helped when one of the main planners of the build brought in a nice big flag to hang on the pavillion/tarp in honor. It hung there all week. It was an encouragement. It even was a source of shade when the heat soared. And there was fellowship there, inside and out.
This Building on Faith Project was York Habitat’s 50th home to be built in York County, Pa. It was also a record home for them. It was done start to finish in 5 1/2 days vs the year it normally was taking. Dave, the construction manager at the time, drew up the plans, a very simple plan, so simple I had to ask for a coat closet! haha! He was very detail oriented and everything was finished early except for the cleaning, so he left that to me! oh my! Most of the build went like clockwork. But this could not have happened if it was not for all who were involved. Their spirit of cooperation, and excitement to be a part of this were great motivators. And there is nothing like watching something come to life right before your eyes and knowing you had a hand in it.
I guess this really is my point in writing this. There are somethings we need to do alone. There are other things you just can’t do without help. Somethings are just quicker, easier and done more efficiently when you have extra hands to help. There’s a story in the Bible about the tower of Babylon and how they put their heads together to build this tower to reach the heaven’s. God, knowing their hearts, confused their plans by confusing their languages and scattering them. “The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Gen 11:6 NIV.
It happens every time volunteers come together on a project. Even today, in York, Habitat has been working on a Veteran’s build for a couple of servicemen (2 homes). They’d started it earlier but used this day to honor them in remembrance of 9/11 and how they fight to defend this country and many others. We wouldn’t have our home if it had not been for the generous hands and hearts of so many in the communities around us here.
I really hope, that this is a day where people can begin to remember how this country rallied together after 9/11, at least for awhile. A longtime senator spoke about terrorism in our church soon after that day. He talked about how terrorism is designed to destroy from the inside out, mostly with the use of fear, the fear of the unknown. And yeah, as our patriotism grew, so did our distrust of those we did not know (ie muslims). That part is sad. Terrorism divides, destroys and conquers. But! Being united joins, builds and is victorious. I pray this is day that we will remember to come together. To put the needs of others before our own. To treat every human with value and worth and learn to love one another. If only we all could be one, there really is nothing we could not accomplish.
I pray each reader of this post, remembers the day. Bless those who mourn. But remember the hope. There is still hope, and its found in God and very much in each of us, together.
I’m including a batch of pictures from our build. Maybe they’ll speak louder then my words… [in gallery form: click on a picture to bring up the gallery]