As part of the Hopefest Initiative, as a group we got the opportunity to furnish and decorate a (rather targe) room in Pearce Middle School that was to be used as a Family Resource Center. Kazuki Konno and his fiancee Jeanne Lee took the lead on this and the following is Kazuki's story:
I thought about the best way of documenting all the blessings that we received throughout the project. Instead of jotting down what happened from the “third person”, I have decided to share the experience from my point of view as if I was telling a story …
Chapter 1: HopeFest
This project was a part of “HopeFest and 60 days of services”. Mike and Carol couldn’t make it to the first meeting for HopeFest, and Jeanne and I pinch-hit them.
We tried to get people to come to the festival as volunteers, but I was the only person who showed up. I was disappointed, and started worrying about the middle school project.
I chose this middle school project among many other projects because I had had a great experience with painting and remodeling a house before. The work was fairly simple and all the volunteers got to talk to each other and built relationships. Remodeling a “family room” looked great to me.
Mike, Carol, Jeanne and I went to look at the room to remodel, and we were stunned. The room was as big as a tennis court. This “family room” needed two office spaces, a conference space, and a living room. And, we had to plan everything, including getting furniture, paint, etc. We had many questions: “Who is going to pay for all this?”, “Are people from BridgePoint going to show up for this?”.
For some reason, I had peace in my heart, and sensed that this was the right project for us. Jeanne felt the same way, saying “God will make it happen.” Facing something almost impossible made us depend on God alone. After seeing the room, my frustration, anxiety, and disappointment from HopeFest went away by committing myself to the Lord and letting Him orchestrate everything. “It is not about me or us, but about Him now,” I said.
Photo 1: “before”
Chapter 3: Huge Conference Table
We needed a lot of furniture and money to purchase it. Mike, Carol, Jeanne and I reloaded craigslist every minute and found some deals. God explicitly revealed His Might at that time. Before buying any furniture, a friend of Mike’s donated $1,000 for this project. We went to one place to buy just a couch, and the couple there also had a lot more of the furniture we needed and gave us a huge discount.
A conference table for eight people was, I thought, a tough one to find on craigslist and too expensive to buy from a store. However, we did find one online. The problem was that it was too heavy and big to carry from the second floor. Mike was having back problems, and I was a guy with a back support belt and no muscle. So, we called John for help. John’s cell phone was in “silence all” mode, but somehow he looked at the phone right when we rang. He got there quickly and we managed to carry the table to the truck.
We received countless blessings in collecting the furniture and other resources we needed. Sherwin Williams donated five gallons of paint, Walmart and Home Depot donated gift certificates, Home Depot also let us use a truck for free.
Chapter 4: Teamwork
The actual remodeling process went pretty smoothly. Many people from BridgePoint came out as well as Susan’s friends, Jim, Joseph, and Todd, and Karl, Betty, Charlotte, some parents, kids and students from the middle school. Miles was so adorable. He was a small, cute boy, but had a BIG serving heart. He lifted more than I did…
We experienced God through teamwork. Whether we are a part of BridgePoint or “traditional church”, whether we have known each other for years or for a day, we are ONE in Christ.
My main job was to support Jeanne who was the leader of the project. I experienced God in teaching me how to be a supporter and an encourager for her. I believe, Jeanne learned a lesson in how to step up and take leadership from God through this project. (Susan and I also learned a tough lesson in how to iron curtains from Carol J )
Once the remodeling started, time went by very quickly. The Florida Mango color made the room look very warm and bright; the well-ironed curtains looked fancy; all the furniture from different places somehow matched in the room.
Photo 2: “teamwork”
Chapter 5: Worship
I had a chance to attend two worship services during the weekend of remodeling. On Saturday, I worshipped with the Saturday night group to which I belong. Everyone shared how much God had been blessing and teaching them through the middle school project, and I experienced an amplification of blessings by sharing with people we love. On Sunday, after finishing remodeling the room, Mike, Carol, Andy, Bryan, Susan, Jeanne and I worshiped together with Karl, Betty, and Charlotte. We shared the most joyful moments in the project, and praised God together. That time was probably the most joyful moment for me.
Chapter 6: Concluding Remarks
Every time we commit ourselves to the Lord and serve others, we are blessed and God receives glory. This seems to me like a rule of thumb in a service project. Jeanne and I hope that Bridgepoint will continue to serve the
Epilogue: Funny Stories
· Mike and Andy trying to get the grout mixture out of the tube without a gun! (Photo 2)
· Ryan and Kazuki carrying a heavy office partition together, and seeing Mike lifting the same thing by himself – later on finding out that the one Mike lifted was much lighter.
· Trying to put up the masking tape with a straight line (multiple attempts) whilst being filmed by News 8 Austin.
· Seeing Kazuki’s big strong belt which helped him immensely as he drove the other truck we borrowed.
Photo 3: “after”