age 0 My folks were sharecroppers near a small town in southwest Ohio – Pleasant Hill. On the day I decided to be born, June 16, Dad was baling hay. Mom sent word to the field that it was time to go, but Dad wanted to run her to the hospital while the hired hands ate lunch. Well, “run” we did. Dad had a policeman, whose lights were flashing, follow him into the hospital parking lot for some questionable driving. They got Mom on a gurney but not to the delivery room. I was born on the gurney in the hallway. I just recently learned that I was not allowed with the other babies because I was born in unsanitary conditions. That explains my lack of social graces.
age 0 to 13 I did not appreciate growing up on a farm until many years later. It was a great place for a boy. There were woods to roam, a creek to play in, and a river to fish. I was driving a tractor before I was big enough to push in the clutch. That didn’t always work so well, such as when I threw Dad off a wagon. But that’s a story that’s best told in person. Looking back I didn’t get whipped as much as I deserved. Fortunately, in the years prior to my birth, my parents cared for “wards of the court” as an alternative to jail. There were some wild events on the farm in those years. Also, my brother, older by ten years, did some things that made my misbehavior pale in comparison. I’m grateful to these whose misconduct allowed me to plead my “small infractions” down from a spanking to a stern talk. That explains my spoiled attitude.
age 13 to 18 We left the farm when I was in ninth grade. I was excited because I was moving into town. The chores were behind me, or so I thought. It seemed that Mom and Dad could always find something for me to help them do. But I enjoyed the time, usually. I became involved in sports, but I was never really very good. Yet I had a good time and learned some valuable lessons. Looking back, I should have learned a few more lessons, but I’m pretty hard-headed. I have wonderful memories of high school, friends from those days that I still enjoy seeing, and that is where my love for photography was born.
age 18 to 21 I went to college on the wrong day! My parents and I both misread the admissions stuff and arrived a day early. I had a pretty lonely first night. However, I met some soccer players who were there for practice and they invited me to join them. I never kicked a soccer ball before but ended up lettering all four years. As far as academics, I started out as a math major, but after Calculus II decided a math minor sounded good enough. My real love was athletics so I graduated with a PE major and minors in science and math. Overall, Bethel College was a perfect match for me. I spent a month studying in Mexico, worked numerous summers at the basketball camps, was a house parent for juvenile delinquents my junior year, served as a house parent for mentally retarded adults my senior year, was active in various clubs, and received a good education in spite of all that other stuff. I matured spiritually, socially, intellectually, and physically, but little did I know at the time how much more maturing I needed! I also formed some of my closest friendships – friendships that are even more valuable today.
age 22-45 I started teaching science at a small rural school. I taught both junior-high and senior-high because grades 7 through 12 were in the same building. I coached basketball and track. And for the first five years I loved it. Then the student’s antics became less funny. Crazy parents became less bearable. The long hours of planning and grading became a grind. I decided to get my masters in counseling so I could be a Guidance Counselor. God worked it out so I slipped into that role after 9 ½ years in the classroom. It was the greatest job in the world. I honestly think I did a pretty good job. I really tried to help kids, and I felt so satisfied in what I did. I now consider some of those former students as close friends. But being a small school meant I had to do more than be a counselor. I was a sub-teacher, sub-Principal, went to meetings galore, and even ran to the grocery when the cafeteria ran out of something. I liked my job, but I was frustrated in the other stuff.
Age 46-52 One Saturday I was playing golf when a guy in the foursome commented that a Counselor’s job was open in his district. The district was ten-times the size of the one I was in at the time. I didn’t think I had a chance of being considered, but I sent a resume Monday morning. I had an interview Tuesday, and they offered the job right then. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was a Counselor – period! I was able to focus on what I was hired to do, and I was working with some wonderful other counselors. I retired from there after thirty years in education. I still loved my job, but there was so much more that I wanted to do. It was a great time to embrace my other loves.
Age 53-59 In my late thirties I started attending a large church. There was, and still is, a strong emphasis on serving others. That fit my personality well, and I bloomed in that environment. I taught some classes, served on a couple of boards, and even was the director for adult missions for a while. Yet I have found great fulfillment in a partnership with a village in Ghana. That village, Noka, has been a training ground for me as I learn what it means to truly help a village develop. That story has earned its own tab on this blog called “Changed For The World”. ) Check it out at the very top of the blog.) Through that work, I came to admire the organization that greatly corrected my view of community development – the Global CHE Network. I volunteered with them – editing lesson plans, giving training, presenting to groups, and acting as the representative at conferences.
Age 60-present At one conference I met Patrick Friday, a representative of the United Methodist’s missions arm – Global Ministries. He was in charge of “In Mission Together”, an initiative of Global Ministries that strives for the same results as CHE. Jumping ahead, I currently work with Global Ministries. I am on “loan” from GCN. I’m finding this much harder work because it involves not just helping people grasp a new idea but requires them to let loose of old ideas. However, the potential payoff can be astounding!