Today we had our last Pathfinder meeting of the year. Attendance was a down because one of my families had their annual Christmas gathering today (that took out three kids plus a counselor). But we still had a good time.

We worked on the Computer honor, but only got through the first requirement. I used to design computers (before I switch to writing software for them), so they are not much of a mystery to me. It’s difficult to understand what others don’t understand. Asking questions helps a lot.

Although it’s not required, I explained how the binary numbering system works. It seems impossible that a computer can store any (rational) number as a string of ones and zeros, but once you understand the mechanism, it’s pretty cool. I think they all came away with that today. I lined four kids up to form a half-byte. Each kid represented a binary digit (aka, a bit), and they could be a one or a zero, as indicated by a raised or lowered fist. Then I taught them to count.

I brought an old PC in with me and we opened it up and took a look inside. I pointed out and explained the function of the CPU, RAM, hard drive, CD-Rom drive, and mother board.

When the meeting was over, I had to hang around for two more hours so people could pick up their fruit orders. I borrowed Ken’s truck on Friday and drove to Keene to pick up 60 cases. That’s a two-hour drive each way, and it pretty much took out the whole day. The fruit arrived at 11:00, so I had to leave here around 9:00. We got it to the church and finished unloading it around 2:00. No point in going back to the office after that.

That’s about as boring a post as I think I have ever written, and that’s after a week of things to choose from. I did have a pretty intense week at work, but I try to avoid writing about that. I think it did factor into the shortage of writing material though – I was just too tired after I got home to do anything, and unless I do something, there’s not much to write about.

There has been a lot going on this week with my Pathfinder Club. We are busy raising money so we can go on a mission trip to Holbrook Indian School in Holbrook, AZ. The school is located on a Navajo reservation, and when we get there at the end of February, we have a week’s worth of projects lined up. We will repair 50 bicycles, make window screens, and present some craft sessions for the younger kids there. The crafts will be based on a handful of Adventurer Awards (for which they can receive some insignia, which we will bring with us).

The deadline for the Pathfinders to raise their portion of the money was November 1, but I still have a handful of kids who did not make their goal. So they will be cleaning the church carpets this Saturday evening after Sabbath ends, and I will be there with them to rent the equipment, show them how to use it, and supervise. And help.

I had a couple of donors step forward who wanted to give these kids the money they needed for the trip, but I want to get them out of the habit of receiving hand-outs. So I asked these donors if they would instead donate money to pay the kids to clean the church carpets. It hasn’t been done in about three years.

The way I see it, everybody wins on this one. The donations are tax deductible (and wouldn’t be if they were directed to fund any particular kid’s trip fee). The carpets get cleaned without costing the church anything. The kids learn the value of work, and the Navajo will benefit from their service.

The plan is to buy plane tickets this Sunday for everyone who has either paid up, or who has earned their portion by cleaning the carpets.

The money the kids raise is only a small portion of the total cost. We have been raising money for this project since 2009, and are still going at it.

One of our bigger money-makers has been selling citrus fruit. Sales have been down this year to the point that I was incredibly discouraged. But then at the last minute more orders came in, yay! We almost never have a big enough order to have it delivered directly to our church. For that, we’d need to order 100 cases or more. Luckily, we can have it delivered to a few other places nearby (well… within a two hour drive). But sometimes I get lucky.

Another group from Manchester is ordering this month, and I got a call from them asking if I would pick up their order in Freeport, ME. Ugh. Even though I was willing to do that, I don’t think I could have. Another friend of mine has recently been assigned as pastor of a church in Rutland, VT, and they were also wanting to place an order and have me pick that up.

So I added up the orders for these three organizations – my Pathfinders, the Manchester group, and the Rutland group. It came to 93 cases. I bumped my order up by 7, and it will be delivered directly to our church in two weeks. Yays again!

There’s no way I could haul 93 cases of fruit in Ken’s pickup truck. We’ve hauled 72 cases before, and it was full that time. Adding another 33% on top of that is just too much. The fruit company delivers it in a semi for a good reason.

The other thing I have going on is our annual project for Friendly Kitchen. On the first Saturday of November, the Pathfinders prepare about 80 sack lunches for them. Friendly Kitchen is Concord’s only soup kitchen, and we have been helping them out like this for several years now. They also receive any extra citrus that we buy but end up not being able to sell. That’s the main reason I don’t mind ordering an extra seven cases.

I figure that if the Lord wants us to raise money for our mission trip, He will send buyers. But if He would rather feed His homeless people in Concord, we can do that too. It’s up to Him!

When we make lunches for Friendly Kitchen, I sometimes go out and buy all the supplies we need (food, sandwich baggies, etc) the day before. But this year we made an appeal to the church membership. They have signed up to bring nearly all of it (I wait until last, so I can get whatever we lack).

This approach always makes me nervous, but I guess it shouldn’t. If I’m not the one buying everything, I can never be sure that everything we need will be there when we need it. It’s easy to sign up, buy the food, and leave it at home. It’s really hard to make PB&J sandwiches without bread.

In spite of my fears, I agreed to ask the church to help us out. But tonight I also called all the people who signed up. And I asked for enough supplies to make 100 lunches this year instead of the usual 80. I guess I was hedging our risk – if some people forget, we should still be able to make something. We will give all the leftover food to Friendly Kitchen after the lunches have been made. Their need is perpetual.

My faith still has more growing to do. If I can trust the Lord with the citrus, why not for the homeless lunches too? This is a case where I have “fearful faith” – I force myself to step out even if I’m nervous about it.

I wonder if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were nervous when they refused to worship Nebuchanezzer’s image?

Over the weekend, David and I went to Barre, VT for Pathfinder Leadership Training. It was a busy weekend. It started Friday with a snowstorm. I guess we got five inches or so. I decided to work from home until noon. By then it had quit snowing, so I cleared the driveway. We drove in to Concord because the citrus truck was due to be there around 3:00pm.

That in itself is somewhat notable. Normally, we do not order enough fruit to warrant a direct drop, and that was the case again this month. However, a school in Manchester and another in Westmoreland had ordered some, and we were all slated to pick up in Portland, ME (a 2.5 hour drive for me). But the fruit company looked at the map and since the three of us had 140 cases all together, and since they decided Concord was central to the three, they proposed that they drop the fruit here. I was not going to argue!

I got a call from the coordinator at Manchester saying they could not be there for the drop off. I stupidly agreed to unload their order for them and hold it for a day. I was expecting Westmoreland to show up though.

Anyhow, the truck did arrive around 3:00 in spite of the snowstorm, but our plow guy had not hit the parking lot at the church yet. So the driver refused to pull into it. Instead, he parked at Sam’s Club (next door), and we unloaded his truck into Ken’s truck – twice. So even though they delivered it to Concord, I still had to unload a truck twice. And on top of the, Westmoreland was late, and Manchester wasn’t going to show up at all. So our crew unloaded 140 cases twice. Then the guy from Westmoreland showed up, and we helped him load his van. That’s a lot of work just so we can sell 27.5 cases of citrus.

We labelled our boxes, and then David and I hopped in Melissa’s van (she’s one of my Pathfinder staff) and we drove to Vermont for the leadership weekend.

That went pretty well. The highlight was when a guy presented what his club had been doing over the past year. His club decided that they would write a bi-monthly newsletter and send it to the 1,300 soldiers in the Vermont National Guard who had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s 2,600 stamps, by the way – every month. They raised money to cover that. But that’s not even close to the most impressive thing they did. They also committed to helping out the soldier’s families back home.

Vermont is a small state, and Barre (which is where they were located) is right in the middle of the state. They can drive to any corner of VT in two hours. When soldiers deploy, their salary goes from whatever it was (and average of $50,000) to $20,000. That’s a pretty big pay cut. And there is often no one at home to pick up the slack. Who cuts the grass, fixes the car, takes the trash to the dump? Often it’s the soldier’s wife, but often, she is already overwhelmed. So sometimes stuff just doesn’t get done.

Enter the Central Vermont Regiment Pathfinder Club. They approached several businesses (including Sherwin Williams & Aubuchon Hardware), and got them to agree to provide paint & materials to do home repairs. They sometimes drove two hours (each way) every week to cut one woman’s grass (a 30 minute job). They fixed cars. They hauled trash to the dump. They finished siding a house. Their director was putting in about 30 hours per week doing this for 10 months until the troops came home again in December.

They raised over $200,000 dollars in cash, goods, and services. All I have to say about that is “Wow.”

Saturday night we ended up playing basketball until 11:30 pm. Four teens against four old people (I count myself in that group). We spanked the teens. The score was roughly 20 to infinity. 🙂 I am still paying for that though. I am very sore, but I’m sure none of the teens are, so one could rightly ask who really won that.

We drove back to Concord after lunch. Va met us at the church, and David went home with her, while Beth stayed at the church with me to keep me company while people came to pick up their fruit. At 7:00pm, we went to Taco Bell, grabbed some food to go, and headed home. I went to bed around 9:00 exhausted.

It seems like every time I feel I have a right to get fully worked up about someone doing me wrong, I find that I turn around and do just exactly the same thing to someone else. That happened today.

I was all excited (not in a good way) about the fruit delivery I wrote about yesterday and felt I had every right to be upset with the way I had been treated. Then this morning, Va reminded me that I was supposed to meet one of my far-flung customers in Tilton. I looked at my watch. It was 10:16. I was supposed to meet him at 10:00. But that’s not the worst of it. I had forgotten to bring his order home with me last night, so it was still in Concord, 30 minutes in the opposite direction.

This customer doesn’t have a cell phone, so the only way I could reach him was to drive over there and meet him with the bad news. I jumped into my clothes, hopped into my car and went over there. He was almost ready to leave when I arrived. I explained what had happened and offered to deliver his fruit to his house on Tuesday. I’m not sure he’s going to let me (he’s a really nice guy). He insists on meeting me half-way. We’ll connect Tuesday and figure it out though.

We had our last Pathfinder meeting of the year tonight. We still have two campouts, a yardsale, and a flag retirement ceremony, so it’s not exactly over yet, but there are no more meetings anyhow. It went well tonight, and I always like it when that happens.

Fruit pick-up coincided with the meeting, so we were schlepping fruit the whole time. We arrived an hour early so I could put names on each box. To my horror, I discovered that I had not ordered enough navels. I opened my spreadsheet and found the error. My totals did not include the half-cases, and six people had ordered those. Luckily, I had ordered three extra full cases plus an extra half-case, so that was covered – or it would have been except that my far-flung customer ordered late, and I was planning to make his order up from the extras. So I’m a half case short. There’s no way this guy’s not getting his full case though. I will have to ask someone else to forego their order. I will offer something else in its place though, or a refund. I don’t think it will be a huge problem, but I hate that I made yet another mistake on this.

Today Jonathan and I borrowed Ken’s truck and drove it to Freeport, ME to pick up our citrus order (36 cases). That’s a three hour drive, and we got there at about 6:30. I was expecting the semi at about 7:00, and I was expecting we would wait until after Sabbath ended to unload it (7:30), so we had an hour to kill while we waited. Luckily, the church there has an open wifi connection which we both used.

At 7:30 there was no truck there. I looked through my email to make sure we were at the right place. We were. I checked the time to make sure we were there at the right time. Again, we were. So I called the driver, and he told me that he had dropped it off yesterday afternoon! I found out later that the driver had called Friday at 4:00 announcing that he would be there at 5:00, so the people at Pine Tree Academy (where the delivery was made) had to scramble to find volunteers to unload the truck.

I went into the school there to see if there was anyone who could help us. I ran into Rick Koontz, our conference evangelist, but I didn’t recognize him. I guess there were 50 people there at some sort of seminar (as it turns out it was a workshop for pastors). I told him what I was up against and he leaped into action. Eventually, he found the mother of the school’s principal, and she unlocked the wood shop which is where the fruit was stored. Then Rick helped me and Jonathan load our 36 cases into Ken’s truck.

Of course it was raining, so we wrapped the crates in a tarp and then cinched some webbing around the base of the stack. That did a pretty excellent job, though the bottom layer did get a little damp.

I had heard a while back that there is an Old Country Buffet in Portland, but I had never found it. While we were waiting for the truck, I found it on the Internet and plugged the address into the Tomtom. Once the truck was loaded, we made a bee line for it.

Tomtom sent us off the highway onto a backroad, and then back onto the same highway again. Thanks Tomtom! After another 20 miles, it told us “You have reached your destination” but we saw no OCB anywhere. We were on the right road though, so we turned around and went looking for it. And we found it, yay!

We got to the front door at 9:01pm. It closed at 9:00. Boooo 😦 So we went to a Chili’s we had seen before we found the OCB.

I don’t normally get to eat a sit-down dinner when we fetch the oranges, because it’s usually about 4 degrees outside. I always need to get that fruit home asap before it freezes. But today the temperature was 36 – perfect refrigerator weather – so we were able to take a leisurely dinner.

We got to the church just before midnight and unloaded the truck. Then we took Ken’s truck back to his house, got my car, and drove home.

Now I be tired.

Maybe I chose a bench plane for my Pinewood Derby car because I heard planes are faster than cars?

Pinewood Derby car in the rough

Pinewood Derby car in the rough

Ha ha.

Nothing much to report today. I did work on my car a little when I got home. I should have gone down to the basement and cleaned up around the furnace though, because I invited our fuel oil supplier to come over and do the annual maintenance. In my case it’s more like the biannual maintenance.

I worked a bit on knitting my sock too. It’s about six inches long now. Two more inches and then I can work on the heel.

Yesterday during the Pinewood clinic I was also handing out fruit orders as people came to collect them. A young man dropped by to pick up his mother’s order and he told me she had ordered a case of oranges. Before I hand any of the fruit out, I slap some mailing labels on them (that Va prints up for me) telling me who it belongs to, if they still owe money, and how many boxes are in their order. I couldn’t find his mom’s order among any of the orange cases. So I assumed that maybe I had overlooked it and had accidentally sold it to someone else thinking it was an extra. No worries though, I have extras to cover my stupidity. I gave him one of the spares and sent him on his way. A few minutes later, I found his mom’s box – it was tangelos, not oranges.

I called her house when I got home, but she was already in bed. I left a message for her to call me, and she did call me around 3:30 this afternoon. I made arrangements to deliver her tangelos. And then I delivered her tangelos. Luckily she lives pretty close to my office (about a ten minutes drive) so I didn’t hafta go very far out of my way to take care of the situation. I retrieved the navels and gave her her tangelos. Then I came home.

That’s all the excitement I have to report from here today.

Today was delivery day for our citrus fruit. I had ordered only 34 cases though, far less than the minimum of 100 to have it delivered to the place of my choosing. Instead, I asked that it be delivered to Portland, ME, which is the next closest place. It was to be there at 5:00pm.

Jonathan, Beth, and I borrowed my friend Ken’s truck, and we got there a bit before 5:00. The truck was already there. But no one from Portland was. We waited. A friend from Portsmouth (not Portland) showed up a few minutes later. Still no one from Portland though. We waited some more. Beth needed to use a bathroom (it was a three hour drive to get there). Eventually (after some phone calls) someone showed up. The coordinator from Portland had failed to coordinate. No one from there would be coming. So we drove north another 20 minutes to their second drop site in Freeport where they DID have a cadre of volunteers. We ended up getting our order loaded onto Ken’s truck and we left at 6:30. A full hour later than I had intended. But what can I do?

We drove back to Concord, and Jonathan and I unloaded Ken’s truck. I had called Ken and left a message for him saying we would be there at 9:30 (he had my car, and I figured we could swap again after unloading). But Ken wasn’t there. I called his wife, but she wasn’t at the house. I told her I was just going to drive over there so there was no need for Ken to come out – we had already unloaded the truck. Just as I was about to pull out of the church parking lot, Ken called me. His mother is sick (she’s in her 90’s). He suggested that I just drive his truck to my house and we’d swap tomorrow before the Pathfinder meeting.

The Pathfinder meeting will not be a “meeting” meeting though – we’re just going to work on Pinewood Derby cars. My friend Warran will be coming out to help, and I’m hoping he’ll come back to the club to serve as a staff member (he was a staff member for the past 5 years or so, but opted out for a variety of reasons). I could sure use his help again though, so I’m hoping this will become permanent.

Also – I had the sermon at church this morning. I think it went pretty well.

I’m pretty tired now, having driven for six hours and unloading a truck twice. So that’s it for tonight!

Last month I wrote about how when we were at Sam’s Club selling fruit as a fundraiser, one of the managers came out and handed me a grant application. My quandary then was that the grant was supposed to benefit the local community, and we were raising funds to go on a mission trip to Latin America. Since that’s not local, I decided to request the money for something else that was already in the works.

Last fall, Sophia, one of our members, made the initial contact with Sam’s Club, requesting a donation for playground equipment for our school. We were in the process of clearing brush for the playground/ball field at the time. They told her that they were out of grant money for the year, but that we should ask again early in 2010 (like February). They also told her that if we ever wanted to run a fundraiser on their steps, that we were welcome to do so.

While we were selling fruit, Sam found some extra grant money and wanted us to apply for it. In the end, I consulted a few people, and we agreed that the best thing for us to do was request the money for the playground equipment as originally planned. I filled out the application, and Sophia emailed me a letter to go along with it. I dropped it off at Sam’s as requested, and then… nothing.

Until today!

I got a call from one of the managers telling me that they had a check written out to our school for $2,250! Did I want them to mail it to us or would I like to come and pick it up? It was almost time for me to leave the office anyhow, so I told her I’d be there in 20 minutes to get it. When I got there, they came down and handed me the check. I thanked them, and they asked me to send them a picture of the playground. I reminded them that all they had to do to see it was peek over the berm that separates our property from theirs, and there it would be. But I also said I’d send them a picture and that we expected to set it up in April.


I have to give credit where it is due though, and that is to God Himself. When it was time to order fruit in December, I felt impressed to order four dozen extra cases and try to sell them at Sam’s Club. I was afraid to do this at first, but then I realized that we had already raised enough money to cover four dozen extra cases of fruit, so even if we didn’t sell any, we wouldn’t be in the red. Further, if the Lord wanted us to go on a mission trip, He would send us customers and make sure we made a profit. Otherwise, He would be pleased if we were to give His extra fruit to a kitchen that serves the homeless. We did make a $500 profit on the fruit in December, and we still had about a dozen cases of fruit left, which I delivered to the kitchen right after Christmas. They were very pleased to get that, as they are not often able to provide fresh fruit to their clients. So God used us to raise some money for our trip, and He also used us to feed some of His children. And because we were willing to be used by Him, we were on the doorstep of Sam’s Club when they “found” some extra money. Wouldn’t you say He had a hand in that?

I still don’t know if we will be able to raise enough money to go to Latin America, but I don’t have to know. It is enough for me to trust in Him and work towards that goal. If that’s what He wants us to do, then He will find the money.

Who knows? But maybe He will choose to send us to Haiti.

Today we did a bit of Christmas shopping. David got a replacement Nintendo DS, and Beth got her very first one. We offered her a choice between a DS and horse riding lessons this spring/summer. I was kinda surprised at her choice, but the “right now” thing is pretty strong in an eight year old. I just thought the horse thing might have been stronger.

We plan to get Jonathan a laptop as a combination Christmas/graduation gift. But he has to graduate first. That’s part of the deal. He was none too happy with us tonight for sticking to that plan. He’s close, but he’s not there yet. He’ll make it before the spring semester starts though. He’s going to take classes at the community college for this spring, and maybe next fall he’ll go elsewhere. We’ll see.

After shopping, we ate at Applebees, and then I headed to the church to meet the crew from Portsmouth. The arrived at the arranged time, and David and I helped load their fruit. Then we hung around waiting for the Pathfinder meeting to start.

During the meeting we wrapped up several trays of fruit into “giftable” packages. We’ll try to sell that at Sam’s Club tomorrow. And keep at it until it’s either all gone or we bump into Christmas. At that point, anything that’s left goes to the homeless shelter.

Tonight we unloaded 77 cases of oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines. Actually, it was more than that, because Portsmouth had their order delivered to our location too (only they didn’t show up to get it!) Their order was 48 cases. I had about a dozen people on hand to help unload, which was very nice. We separated our order from Portsmouth’s, and then divided and labelled the ones we had pre-sold.

Va and I had driven separately. I needed to be at the church at 4:30 to unload, but the labels weren’t ready yet (I had not given her the data in time, so my bad). Also, David was out walking Penny when I needed to leave, so he caught a ride with Va.

After we finished unloading, sorting, dividing, and labelling the fruit, we headed to Taco Bell and grabbed some supper. Va reminded me that I had promised to deliver a case of grapefruit to a home-bound church member. So after Taco Bell, Beth and I went back to the church, grabbed the grapefruit, and went to this lady’s house. Only she wasn’t there. I guess she’s not as home-bound as I had thought. I brought her fruit home with me and will try again tomorrow.