Building Blog 2011
August 10, 2011: There He is Again
I doubt anyone is coming out here anymore since the building is built and open to the public, but I couldn't help adding one more "God-moment" to this story.
We had planned to have the Grand Opening on July 10. It then was moved to July 17. It stayed there for a bit and then Bob Nitz and I spoke and he really felt it needed to go to July 24. At that point, I was like, OK, but we can't move it any further. I was determined to get it open by then to give Brian Kittleson all the time he needed to move in and complete his transition by the time school started on August 15.
Then Bob called me again to tell me it needed to move to July 31. He assured me if this happened it would absolutely be the last delay. Of course, no one knew about any of these dates other than Pastor Lutz, but I was still a bit disappointed and also worried about Brian's needs. We talked at length and I realized that it was necessary--the date was going to have to move. But I needed to find a way to make it easier for Brian. We couldn't move in any furniture or people, but maybe we could start the IT services and Verizon installation. Both of these were slated for after we received the occupancy permit. There were several reasons why it was placed at that time, but Bob agreed to work with whatever was necessary to make this happen. I spoke with Brian and he was exceedingly happy to get this started. So we made our compromise, I would take a week from Brian's schedule, but he would be allowed to move forward 2-3 weeks earlier on his server and phone installation. While I was disappointed it would be as late as July 31, it appeared that everyone was happy. We announced the date to everyone and as you know we did open on that day.
What would couldn't have been known then is that Verizon would be going on strike the very week that Brian would have started his installation. There are 45,000 workers on strike in the Northeast corridor that are responsible for installation of landlines, service, FIOS, etc. So we would have had a Grand Opening and not been able to get phone service. Once again God has a plan in mind. All we have to do is listen and be patient!
August 5, 2011: Retrospective
People have been asking me how I feel about the school building being completed. A full answer would be: "A little weird." I think it must be like how you feel when you give birth to a baby and then give it up for adoption--the right decision, but you can't stop thinking about the "baby"! Or I would compare it to having your child get married--hmmmm, maybe God planned this opening in just the right order. I already have some recent experience with that. :)
But the one word answer would be: Content. God has truly blessed in incredible ways. I'm thankful to have simply been a part of it.
For a news report of the Grand Opening day, check out http://www.columbiaunion.org. You will see a full news account complete with pictures and a slideshow.
A will give one other Biblical perspective that I just can't get out of my head and please read it in the most respectful way possible. I keep thinking of Jesus and His death and His last words--"It is finished!" While those aren't new words to me--I hear them so differently after this past Sunday. I can only imagine in His humanity how much those words meant. And imagine His resurrection morning assuming there is any humanity remaining--Jesus had to think "We did it! After thousands of years, the sin problem is over! It is finished!" Wow! Can you imagine any more satisfaction than that!
As you enter into the Sabbath others, contemplate that great and momentous finish--because it means one day "this project" will be completed and it really will be finished. We can all go home!
July 31, 2011: Grand Opening!
The day began with short speeches by key individuals. The temperature was very hot, so we kept it short and sweet! We moved from the academy entrance after the speeches toward the elementary entrance where we uncovered the cornerstone and cut the ribbon. Crowds poured through the doorways into the new school. Estimates are somewhere between 500-600 people came to the event. So exciting!
I couldn't help but think of Joshua after he had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and God gave him the word to go ahead into the Promised Land. I wonder if he felt the way I and the rest of the building committee did? It gave a whole new perspective for me. He must have had the same surreal feeling. Probably kept pinching himself! People loved the building. There was nothing but praise and thanksgiving for a project completed.
One interesting note--we let people give themselves a self-guided tour. Some doors were locked or rooms inaccessible because they were storing items or just not places for people to be. However, we missed one important door and some enterprising alumni thought it was all part of the tour. They found their way to the roof! Went out, snapped a few pictures, and came back down. Here are a few pictures from that adventure, although I've informed Principal Kittleson and he's taken steps so that won't happen again!
Thank you to all of you who came and listened to our praise even though the weather was hot. Thank you for touring the school. Most of all thank you for your support. Please pray for our principal, staff, and students as they enter into this new school year.
July 28, 2011: An Answer to Prayer
At 2:00 p.m. my phone rang. Dwayne Nitz said one sentence: "We've received our approval for occupancy." Just six words, but with so much meaning! This weekend we move forward towards praising God for all He has done for us. Even He ended with an exclamation mark delivering our occupancy permit a full day and a half before we expected it.
July 25, 2011: The Countdown Begins
We are less than one week from our grand opening day. I was over at the school yesterday (Sunday) to find a crew mopping, polishing, cleaning, and finishing all to be in readiness.
Remember the bricks that were specially order by many of you? The center inset by the Home and School was being installed yesterday morning. Hollie Faehner, Home and School president, came by to help with the planning. We are hopeful that your bricks will be installed as well, but that may not happen by Sunday. Hollie is working towards that goal if at all possible. And, look at it this way, it gives you yet another opportunity to visit the school if only to see your brick!
I would ask you to pray without ceasing for our project this week. Beginning tomorrow we have the fire marshall, WSSC, and final building inspector coming through our building. What they say is what will be. We need our occupancy permit to begin school. God is good. I have absolute faith in His leading and timing. He has not failed us to this day--everything has been perfect. Let us continue to give Him glory and wait upon His lead this week culminating in a wonderful praise service to Him this Sunday.
July 22, 2011: Preparation Day
So, how many of you are old enough or Adventist enough (please read that the right way!) to remember that Fridays used to be called "Preparation day"? It meant that Sabbath was coming and Friday was spent doing all the things necessary to make everything and everyone ready for the Sabbath. We still do this, sort of, in our home--maybe not quite intense, but t is important to be ready when Sabbath comes.
Today, Friday, I went over to the new school and all I could think of was Preparation Day! Preparing not for the Sabbath in this case, but for the grand opening a week from Sunday. There is a cleaning crew going room by room. I saw them polishing and vacuuming out lockers--yes, every single individual locker! Floors being swept. Carpets being vacuumed. Windows being washed. Plants being watered. Notice the parking lot above. See the striping on the lot? The handicap spaces? Even a red truck just like the model in the church (and no, it isn't Pastor Lutz's!) All getting ready for you! Yes, you! We are now almost within one week when you no longer have to rely on my words and pictures, but you can see it with your own eyes.
I'm so excited! Plan today to be there! Oh, and in case you haven't heard, it is July 31, 4:00 p.m. Don't miss it!
And, because I'm feeling particularly generous, here is a picture of the "brains" of the school--pretty impressive installation of all the IT needs for this building.
July 10, 2011: It's a Date!
If you were unable to be at church yesterday, you will want to know that we announced the date for the Grand Opening and Tour of the new Spencerville Adventist Academy. Mark your calendars for July 31 and make sure your summer plans include being there to first thank and praise God for His marvelous leading through this endeavor and then to tour the new facility. Because we secured this date as late as Friday morning, we have yet to finalize the details as to time, but keeping watching the church bulletin and weekly update for updated information.
Please keep our projects in your prayers continually. While we have set the date and feel confident about it, we do not have an occupancy permit yet. All of the inspections are on-going right now, the sewer is about two days from completion and all is going well, however, as you know snags, hiccups, and unexpected decisions can thrown things into turmoil. We have no reason to suspect any of this, but we do want to keep a firm hold on Providence through to the end (and on to the future, of course!).
The building you will tour will be an empty one. This is calculated. It is appropriate to thank God first when we receive the building and THEN take possession of it. The final walk-through to create the "punch list" will be on Friday, July 29. Our praise and tour will follow immediately on July 31, and then Brian Kittleson and his team will begin the transition on August 1. Please remember him as well. He is carrying an enormous burden on his shoulders to have a school ready for this school. I can attest to his taking everything in stride with pleasantness and grace and a minimize amount of visible stress, but know that he is probably laying awake at night praying and plotting as I do--so remember us and our builder in your prayers.
Exciting times are ahead!
July 8, 2011: Christmas in July
Do you get excited about Christmas coming? Those couple weeks just before? Maybe you remember as a kid anticipating the gifts, the food, the surprises and just couldn't wait. Well, I'm still like that as an adult, however, it isn't about getting presents--it is about giving them. I try very hard to find just the right gifts for my family and close friends. Sometimes I'm so excited about them I want to run home and give them to them right away. But I don't. I take them home, hide them, wrap them up, and wait until Christmas. What fun to see their faces when they open their gift and find it is just what they wanted!
This project is a bit like Christmas for me. We are just weeks away and I want to bring all of you over and show you your "gift." But I can't. I have to wait, but not for long!
We will be announcing the date of the opening and tour tomorrow at church. If you want to know, you gotta be there (hopefully you will come for other reasons as well!).
In our house, when I was growing up, we would open one gift on Christmas Eve. So, since this is a similar experience, here's a couple recent pictures to give you a peek and keep you happy until you get your present!
July 1, 2011: The Heart of a School
I went to the school this past Tuesday to do a quick walk-through and answer a few questions for our project manager. I took my camera to record progress and things were coming along so nicely, I decided I would relinquish my resolve to not post any more pictures, because it was just too exciting. I mean "what's a few pictures gonna hurt, right?" :) However, I inadvertently forgot my camera somewhere and have not been able to get it back just yet, so no pictures. To be honest, I'm glad--I was just a bit giddy with excitement and thus I'm no longer able to yield to the temptation!
Things are still on track and I can tell you that I do have a date for the final walk-through and turnover of the building. We are not yet announcing it because there is one more important piece that is under construction right now--the sewer line. They began the sewer installation last week and are hoping to conclude it by next week. A pivotal piece of the installation is happening this week. Once I'm satisfied that no "hiccups" have come from that, we will be announcing dates to you. It is soon, so do not lose heart!
Do you remember the story of Samuel going to anoint David as King of Israel (1 Samuel 16)? He met Jesse and his many fine, strong, handsome sons. He went to the eldest and was sure that God meant for him to be King of Israel. However, he was not the one. He went to each of the seven sons and the answer was still the same--he is not the one. You know the end of the story--David is brought in, a mere teenager, and God reveals that he is the one He has chosen. And we have that oft quoted verse, "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, bu the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).
What does this have to do with our new school? Lots. We usually use this verse to talk about people--don't underestimate an individual because of what you see from the outside. However, I think it is fitting for our new school project as well. I want to prepare you as we get closer to the day we let you in the door. This building is amazing. I mean it is truly beautiful. I cannot walk its halls without praising God for all He has done. I hope you do the same. However, what is the "heart" of a school? Is God pleased with beautiful architecture, wonderful design elements, the latest in technology and brand new fixtures? Yes, I suppose He is--we want what is best. But is that the heart of a school?
I think God will be most pleased if this school educates students with strong characters, hearts for Him, ready to serve Him whereever He calls. A school that stays true to its mission and values. A school that people drive by and know Adventists as good neighbors and who serve their community with a strong Christian witness. The building doesn't matter--the education does. People will swarm to see our new building and we have much to be proud of. But let us never forget that God led us here, God is to be first and foremost, and that it isn't the building that makes the school, it is the heart inside it--the distinctive Adventist education.
June 17, 2011: Word Pictures
True to my word, I'm not sharing any photographs with you today, although it is sorely tempting. However, the temptation isn't one to which I will give in since I did not taken my camera with me when I went to the property this week. Was a smart move on my part as I would have been shooting pictures all over the place!
This week at our weekly staff meeting in my office, one of our editors gave an devotional message on Ezekiel 1. If you are unfamiliar with this passage, maybe you might take the time to read it tonight. Ezekiel was a prophet with some strange and unique experiences and visions. You'll find in this chapter, Ezekiel relating a vision--creatures and fire, wheels and eyes. If you read it carefully, you will find him using the phrase "I looked, and I saw" or "what looked like" as he describes the vision. You can almot see him grappling for words as he tries to describe to us things he had never seen before. He tries to relate heavenly things to earthly people in words that they know describing things they had never seen.
I thought of Ezekiel as I walked through the building this week. It was our monthly requisition meeting which is a fancy way to say, I went to pay the bill. We review the billing for that month and then go see the work that has been accomplished. I had not been to the property (inside) for about two weeks and, as always, was totally amazed by the progress. I instantly reached for my camera, but I had left it at home. I then remembered my saying, "no more pictures." We will see if I can live up to that (or if I even should), but realized that if I wasn't going to take photographs, I was going to have to paint pictures for you--word pictures. Just like Ezekiel--thrilling pictures using ordinary words. Not to say our new building is like heaven, but we have been on this journey for so long that it becomes almost surreal to touch it, see it, experience it. I can't wait to have you come!
The stage floor has been sanded, stained, and sealed. I believe it gets one or two more coats. The wall that divides the multipurpose room was installed this week. In fact, when I walked into the room, it was only half as big--which was totally cool! I can imagine lots of ways to use this space efficiently with kids on one side as well as the other.
The bleachers are almost completely installed. There was a bit of a snafu on these as they came from the company ready to be installed in the wrong place. Due to steel vertical beams, they had to recut them to go in the intended spot which gave us a bit of a delay in completing that space. Good news is--the company threw in a motorized mechanism so the bleachers are no longer manually pulled out.
The tile flooring is completely installed on the second floor. The ceramic tile is installed in the entry ways. The countertops are in for the classrooms. The science tables are in the science lab (very cool, although it took me immediately back to my TA days with Uncle Willie--liked the teacher, but wasn't crazy about the subject). The courtyard is complete and will probably be a favorite place for many with a winding path and serene garden elements.
As you can see I'm not as good as Ezekiel in my word pictures--but it is intentionally. I still like the element of surprise. I still want to stand in the school and watch all of you walk in the door. I want to stand in the auditorium, the gymnasium, a classroom, the courtyard, the science room, the kitchen--I want to see the facial expressions. I think you will be delighted. My problem right now is to figure out how to be in all those places at one time!
Time is moving rapidly. They are to start the sewer installation next week. There was delay by WSSC as they required some resubmittals of some permit applications and required a change in installation. There was also a piece of equipment that was damaged in shipment that caused this to not happen sooner. I am hoping to see this move forward quickly.
Continue to keep our project in your prayers as well as Nitz Development as they work diligently to complete this project on our behalf.
June 3, 2011: Last Glimpses
My title sounds so final! But that is a good thing! We are nearing the home stretch on this project. Very soon, the building project that we've talked about for so long will be completed, transition from the current school to the new school will commence, summer will be over, and school will begin in our new school. Can you believe it?
The pictures that follow were actually taken somewhere between May 24-27, but I was unable to get them uploaded before today. My apologies for making you wait. However, it is not the last of your waiting, but the beginning. Once you look at this photographs, there will be no more (at least probably not many) until you are able to take them yourself. I will continue to write, but most likely will not upload anymore pictures. Why? Because we're close, that's why!
I went over to the school yesterday and again was amazed at progress. Finishing touches are appearing everywhere and rooms are more and more complete. Carpeting is down everywhere. Cabinets are installed. Countertops are in most rooms. Painting is completed. Wood flooring is almost done with the exception of finishing. The auditorium is complete--chairs are installed, curtains on the stage are hung, lights are installed. Lockers are in, kitchen equipment is almost installed, the cornerstone has been engraved. Doors throughout the building inside and out are installed. Toilets and sinks are installed. Tile flooring is slowly working its way through the hallways. In other words, it is almost done.
Many of you, okay, all of you, have been asking and asking for a date. It could be early July. What lies between us and the building are a few inspectors and one fire marhall and that is what makes the difference. Please continue to pray for our project that God will continue His blessings to see us through. And then stay tune for an announcement of when you can come to see the building and take pictures for yourself. I mean, really, I have to leave something for a surprise! Enjoy your last look!
May 13, 2011: What a Difference a Year Makes
It is always good to take a moment to look back from whence you came. Much of faith and the Christian life is predicated on this principle. It is in looking back, not to linger over what might have been, but to see the path you have traveled, that you recognize God's guidance and providence in your life. In our case, it makes sense to remind ourselves where we have been in the life of this project. I'm not going to take you way back, but one year will suffice. Take a look at a picture I took literally one year ago today. And then read on as I show you five new spots in our almost finished building. Wow! What a difference! The Lord is good!
So I went through the building twice this week. Each time there is just something a little more to see. I've included five different things that have been added with a brief description. Next week promises even more. Floor tile is on its way. Auditorium seating is on its way. Stage curtains, countertops, and more will begin to appear as we move closer to completion.
There a number of doors that have been installed with more and more growing each day. This particular door opens into the elementary reception area. As the carpeting continues through the building, the doors follow. Once the carpeting is complete the doors are put on and locked. This keeps people from walking on the carpets (covered with plastic) and it also allows construction managers to know who is going in and out of rooms. The whole building becomes a more controlled environment.
Here is an example of the carpeting being installed. This, again, is the elementary reception area. You can see a door there at the top right. That particular door goes into the vice principal for the elementary. Notice the plastic on the carpet to protect from dirty footprints, paint, etc.
I've included several pictures of the gymnasium, but took this one so you can see progress. There's a lot going on in this particular picture. First, you can see the painting of the walls. All the basketball hoops are installed. The wood you see in stacks on the floor is the beginning of the gym floorings. Installation of the gym floor will begin next week. The bleachers are secheduled to arrive next week as well. Up at the very top ceiling you will see a dark blue line. I should have aimed the camera up a bit more. This is divider curtain that can be dropped down to divide the gym into two separate courts allowing for two separate games to go on simultaneously. Volleyball equipment has also arrived and is in storage for the moment.
What's missing in the picture to the right? Why can you see the barn at Cedar Ridge? Because the construction trailer is gone! That's right, the construction management team has moved into the building and so there is no need for the trailer. I had a meeting there this week--wow, so much space! No more rubbing elbows while we talk!
I tried to get a good picture of what is going on in the courtyard. There will be a sidewalk that crisscrosses the yard. The sidewalks enter a large circle made of circular shaped pavers. This shows some of the installation. I had to shoot through windows and the ones closest to it are too dirty to give you a good detail shot. But I think you get the picture. I think this will be a vey nice inviting outdoor space for years to come.
May 6, 2011: Now the Fun Stuff!
I'm back to my Friday schedule. For those of you who frequent this site on Friday night, don't miss the last entry posted last Sunday. I went out today for other reasons, but took my camera. And, surprise, surprise, didn't have the memory card in it! Bummer! But the new stuff was so good, I went back just for you to take a few more pictures.
The landscaping is taking shape and while I will show some pictures here, you don't need me to go and take a picture. All you need to do is drive by. The driveway is now lined with trees on both sides. That was surprise to me. I wasn't aware of those. There are also trees and bushes across the front of the school as well as lining the parking lot. The trees are of good side and look majestic already!
Outside, if driving by, you will also notice the roof on the auditorium is going on which will complete the rest of the roof. They should finish up next week some time (see first photo above).
Inside, now there's some good stuff! The administrative wing is getting carpeted! Most of the offices on the right side were done when I went back in the afternoon. Really gives that finished look to that portion. Then moving down to the gymnasium--the contrasting color of paint was added. It is amazing what paint/color can do to a room. This seems to have made it appear even larger. And, we have basketball hoops! Very cool! There are also two installed in the multi-purpose room.
Cabinets are now in the elementary wing. And doors are being installed throughout the building. The auditorium is taking shape as the ceiling tiles are dropped into place.
Next Wednesday, the construction trailer is leaving and all construction administration will move into the building. There will be sewer work beginning in another week. All in all a very busy place!
April 29, 2011: It's All in the Details
I'm actually writing this on May 1 although the pictures you will see were taken on Friday. I normally go out on Friday morning, shoot some pictures, and then write the blog that afternoon. But this past Friday was a bit jam packed with errands and even though the sun didn't go down until late, it was too many photos to process in time. So, to my Friday evening visitors--I apologize!
The good news is that there were so many photos to process. Once again, I was delighted to walk through the building and see new things. I can't even describe the delight I feel when I round a corner or peek into a room and see something else completed. These pictures will only be glimpses for you, but I think you, too, will get that same feeling of excited accomplishment.
The question that I'm being asked most frequently, as is Pastor Lutz, is what's the date? When will it open? When will we get to see it? And the answer is: soon. I know that isn't very satisfying, but it is accurate. We are on schedule thus far barring no unforeseen circumstances from weather or county. Pastor Lutz likes to compare it to the Second Coming (very accurate I might add)--Be ready. Watch and pray! And while that might make you smile, it is also a genuine request to continue to pray for our project as we are. God has surely blessed. There is abundant evidence of this (stories to come!). However, as we near the end, hopefully, just some weeks ahead, we still want to remain faithful, humble, confident in God's leading, and focused on what is truly important.
The building is being completed from right to left as you look at it from Route 198. What I mean by that is that construction began on the right (high school side) and it moves left progressively. That means that many of the completed items you will see in these photos are on the high school side and will eventually also be on the elementary end. Things are coming together and I, for one, think it is beautiful! One notable item outside the building is the planting of bushes and trees. These were being planted while I was there so you will note a few laying on the ground awaiting planting. Soon to come will be sod and seed on the field out front. Little by little, no more mud!
First, pictures of landscaping:
Next, the entrances on both sides have prominent display cases:
Restrooms have taking on a whole new look.
The gymnasium has a new coat of paint and the steel beams boxed in to prevent injuries to basketball players (yes, they will be padded!)
Let's not forget the classrooms! Things are happening there as well:
And last, a rather large change to the kitchen. The once empty room now has a wall inside (a bit hard to see) behind which is a very large hood and cooking area.
April 15, 2011: More than bricks and mortar
As each week passes, people are becoming more and more interested and excited. I get stopped in the halls at work, e-mails, telephone calls, and greets at church all related to the new building. Suddenly I've become quite "popular." I'm glad to see and hear the interest and I'm glad to hear the question "when can we see it?" I'm proud (in a good way) of our new building and can't wait for you to show you in concrete form (quite literally) how God has blessed us. However, I have this little "niggling" in the back of my brain and this seems the appropriate forum to bring it to light.
A school is more than bricks and mortar. You're going to hear more about this from me as we get closer to occupancy. It is more than steel and wires. More than fancy lights, a big gymnasium, and a bathroom on every corner. And when it is a Seventh-day Adventist school, it is even greater! Yes, get excited about the building. Yes, show up on the day we open it up for tours. But when you do, think about who will occupy it, what will be happening, why we even built it. Is it because we want to show off our amazing ability to plan and create? Is it to show how financially supportive we are of education? Is it because we want to make history in the North American Division as the only church to take on such an enormous feat? Absolutely not!
We are believers in Adventist Christian education first and foremost. We want to share the Good News with others. We want our children growing and learning in a safe environment where they learn about Jesus as they Best Friend and of salvation leading to a home with Him forever. It's not about the materials or the plans, it is about the people. Those who will attend, those who teach, and those of us who make it happen both logistically and financially.
And, now that I've made you wade through all of that sermonizing, here's what you actually came out here for! As usual, run your mouse over the picture to get some running commentary on what you are looking at.
April 1, 2011: One Dollar at a Time
Building a new school is hard work! I know that seems like a "duh" statement, but I'm not referring to the actual construction. I'm talking about the hours of time it takes the building committee or people on the committee to make it happen.
We had a very busy week. We had some tough decisions to make about the computer services and infrastructure. We met on Tuesday and made one decision giving an assignment to someone for additional work. That person worked all day Wednesday finally giving me new information that evening. I disseminated it to everyone that night and also more early Thursday morning after spending some thinking about it at 3:00 a.m. (ever notice how much you can accomplish at that time of the morning?). Then Thursday was a day of constant e-mails, phone calls, some frustrations, working out details, reviewing contracts (thanks Bob Burrow and Pastor Lutz!), and finally a decision. We haven't totally completed this portion, but the hardest part is finished. And that is just one item! So, like I said this is hard work!
On a different note I had two different conversations this week that lingered with me. Both were about finances, both were with people who have some significant financial backgrounds. Both were strong supporters of our building project. The first person told me that he was trying to teach his child about giving. Every week he takes the child to the bank and deposits some money. Not a lot. But they do it every week. A little at a time. This child (who isn't very old) probably as a more significant savings account than a lot of adults do. Why? Because consistently every week a deposit is made. And a little bit grows into a lot when you are consistent.
The other individual is a believer in systematic giving. Every month they give the same amount based on a percentage of their income. They give their tithe, combined budget, missions, and building fund regularly and faithfully. They began supporting our building project 10 years ago giving what they could afford every month. Month by month by month. Faithfully. They now have invested a significant amount into our new building and they are so excited about it. They could not have given that amount in one gift. They couldn't afford to "buy a classroom" or "donate a gymnasium." But they gave what they could and it has made a difference! A little bit every month adds up to a huge investment in our children's education. Oh, and did I mention they don't have any kids in our school?
You are going to begin hearing a lot about giving. The closer we get to moving in, the more you will hear about how much is left to pay on the building. Have you been supporting the project? Have you considered giving something week by week or month by month? If not, I urge you to think about it. Big numbers are scary. I get that! But $5 a week? $10/week? Pray about it. Your small and faithful gift can make things happen.
March 25, 2011: Being Good At What You Do
I think I'm fairly good at what I do. I mean if someone at work has a question, for the most part I know the answer and I probably at least sound intelligent when I'm answering them (at least I hope so!). On Thursday, while I was at work, I got a call to come over to the property to make a decision. That doesn't happen very often (thankfully), but I was able to step away from what I was doing and head over. Since I wasn't planning on going there and I was interrupted at work, I was in a "work" frame of mind when I arrived.
I found Dwayne Nitz, our project manager, Ernie Sines, our church liasion, and the Montgomery County Fire Marshall all in deep conversation about a portion of the building during a regular inspection. So I stood by politely waiting for them to finish. They finish that area and then the fire marshall asked to see the kitchen area, so they proceeded over there. I followed and listened some more. And I couldn't help but be impressed and thankful. You know if you have a question about the Adventist Review or Adventist history or how to work a variety of software programs, then I'm your girl. In fact, if you have a question about this project in general, how much it is costing, where we are in our progress, you can talk to me too. But these three men knew stuff I knew nothing about. And the fire marshall knew even more than all of us about everything related to fire, including how people react (not the way you might think). I was really glad that our building is being built and inspected by people who know their jobs, take them seriously, and are open to counsel and learning from others. We can be assured that we will have a well-built structure where things work correctly and are tested and secure before we occupy it. And, isn't that important? We want the best for our students, not only in teaching, but in their environment where they can be safe, happy, and secure.
Lots has happened in the past two weeks. We were in a bit of a lull there where I knew stuff was progressing, but there wasn't anything to really take a picture of to give you a good idea. Well, you hit the jackpot today. I've got 13 pictures on this entry. You will see ceramic tile in the restrooms, lights in the classrooms (and they work!), drinking fountains (they don't work yet!), thermostats, an elevator, and more. I'll just let you click on the pictures and do the tour. I've explained what each is. All you have to do is hold your mouse over the picture. If you're interested, click on it to see it larger. Enjoy!
March 11, 2011: Busy, Busy, Busy
I have not updated for several weeks, not because things aren't happening, but more because they are. The building program has really picked up and to be quite honest, it has had its stressful times. Mostly because it has progressed from simply managing the project to interacting with it and those who will occupy it. I've included the latest overhead shot taken by LeRoy and Sharon Froom. This was as of a week ago Friday.
The building committee has been meeting weekly for about a month. We try meeting for about one hour, however, I think we've only successful done that once. The agendas are long and they require quite a bit of discussion. Most meetings have included something to do with color. We've selected countertops, laminate surfaces, floor tiles, paint, carpeting, and more. I think you will be pleased with the aesthetic the committee has attempted to do across the building.
Home and School has become active as well planning a project that we've discussed and examined. While I won't go into it now, look for announcements concerning it in the near future.
Many of our meetings have had to do with all things financial. While we would like to build without changes to the original plan, they are inevitable. The committee has been extremely conscientious and takes each financial decision extremely serious. As we come closer and closer to the finishing of the building, it has come down to choices. Sometimes we just simply have to walk away even though the price may be amazing.
Today I spent four hours in a meeting along with Brian Kittleson, Junior Sines, Darryl Thompson, and other vendors discussing computer services. We hammered out many details which I think will go a long way in making this building technologically well-equipped. It is good to know that we have so many parents/church members with expertise that we can go to for help in making these decisions. To pay consultants of this caliber would be very expensive, indeed.
It is harder to show you photographs that represent change in the building since changes are much more subtle. I will include a couple photos of the latest addition as of the end of February--the catwalk in the auditorium. This will become significant for programs in the auditorium, particularly the drama. And, by the way, please remember to support the SAA drama team next month. The kids are working hard and would really appreciate an audience!
February 25, 2011: An Amazing God
Those of you who have been in this for the long haul know that this project has taken years to get off the ground. There was at least seven years of wrestling with the county to secure the right permits to build. During that time period were moments of wondering and questioning--why was it taking so long? The only answer to such a question was, "God is in charge and His time is perfect. We move forward when He leads in that direction." And so we waited. Then the miraculous day came. We started building and now are within months of completing the project.
But take a look at the graph below that Bob Nitz, our general contractor, shared with me this past week. It shows the price of construction from January 2009 through January 2011, month by month. You can see the prices begin high, descend, and then begin to increase again. Locate the lowest point on this graph--July 2009--and then recognize that that is when we received our building permit, our contractor gave us the estimated cost, and we started building. Isn't that pretty amazing? When the prices were lowest, when it was the perfect time to estimate the cost of our project, when our congregation would expend the least amount of money--then God moved us forward. What a humble reminder of how God is in charge. He knows the end from the beginning. We only need to rest in His promises and guidance. Please remember again to thank Him for His blessings today.
February 11, 2011: It just keeps getting better!
I went over today just to take a few pictures. I know I sound like a broken record, but I'm always amazed at how much is completed each time I come. They have poured the cement for the last stairwell by the elementary entrance. Drywall and painting is happening or completed throughout the building. Ceiling grids are also everywhere. Let me just put in some pictures and let you see for yourself. Don't forget to read the entry just before this to see some faces that are just as important as drywall and paint (probably more!).
February 9, 2011: Its More Than Just Bricks and Mortar
Sometimes we get so caught up in the new building, how big it is, how beautiful it is, how excited we are, that we forget that it isn't really about a building at all, but the people who will be inside. I thought I would show you some of the faces that will be seen in these hallways next year.
Since my "baby" graduated last year from SAA, I have no student there for the first time in 18 years. I decided to volunteer one afternoon each week helping Jane Lanning with the drama program. I have enjoyed myself immensely as I've gotten to know about 25 amazing and talented students. They are working very hard memorizing their lines, practicing their songs, and learning the best way to play their role. Only about a half dozen of them are seniors. The rest will be attending this new school. As you look at some of their pictures, remember they are the real reason for building. And if you are looking at a few names to add to your prayer list, here are some that go with these faces: Dayna, Sasha, Mark, Zack, Josue, Daniel, Jasmine, Juliana, Amber, Kasey, Bailey, Reevan, Melissa, Kimmie, Rachel, Sonia, Ryan, Kim, Matthew, Hannah, and a few more that you can't see. They are why we do what we do!
January 28, 2011: A Shelter in the Time of Storm
First, I thought I'd share with you a picture taken one year and one day ago (January 29, 2010). Then it was the beginnings of a basement and lots of dreaming.
Now, it stands as a testament to our commitment to Seventh-day Adventist education. And I couldn't help but think as I snapped a couple pictures this morning during the snow flurries, the words of this hymn (#528). We ooh and ahh at the building and its beauty and it is that, for sure, but it is so much more. It is our way of providing "shelter" to our children so that they will learn about Jesus, their "Mighty Rock in a weary land", their "Cooling shade on the burning sand." That's what this project is all about--telling others about Jesus. May we always keep that foremost in our hearts and minds as we near the conclusion of this project.
If you are looking for a way to celebrate the beginning of the Sabbath tonight, why not sing this song? It will remind you of Jesus, our refuge in a storm. And maybe while you do you will think of the building that will soon cease to be a dream, and become a reality--one that proclaims to the community our faith in a soon coming Savior and eternal life forever with Him!
January 21, 2011: The Stuff Dreams Are Made of
I have been away from the property until today--a period of about two weeks--not long, but enough to be amazed at the progress there. I actually went out to do a bit of business. First, Robert Martinez, our choral director and now video film instructor, and Brian Kittleson, our principal, needed to come out to some videotaping for the upcoming Academy Day. While it would be wonderful to allow all our potential new students to see the building they will be going to school in next year, it isn't practical. So clever and creative minds came up with the next best thing--a video. This allowed me to play tour guide a bit and we went all over from top to bottom so Robert could film.
Since they were coming I decided to be most efficient and deal with some music "space" issues which required the expertise of Jane Lanning, music department chair, and Rod Kerbs, academy vice principal and band instructor. So they joined me out there as well. Let me tell you about what was new and then come back to their little visit.
This building always holds little surprises for me. It shouldn't because I've been a part of it for so long, but when a two-dimensional plan becomes three-dimensional, sometimes there are things you just weren't aware of. I saw one of those today when I saw the masonry work on the academy entrance. First of all, the stone work is beautiful! It took so long to figure out where to get the best stone to match the church, and it paid off. The stone really adds to the overall building. But what I didn't realize is that the stone goes all the way up to the doors of the academy entrance. A nice touch!
Immediately upon entering, it is like a new place--it actually looks like a building. Drywall is pretty much up throughout the school. Much of the building is painted with primer coats which continues to add to that "finished" appearance. But I guess the biggest surprise was the auditorium. They poured the concrete floor yesterday so it is our first look at it today. It is really beautiful. Nicely sloped and the view from any seat is just terrific. It was kinda fun to see it for the first time with Jane Lanning. She couldn't contain herself--she did the same thing she did the first time she saw the stage, went into her "Julie-Andrews-The-Hills-are-Alive" swoop across the stage. I don't think she stopped smiling for a straight five minutes.
I think what struck me most on this visit was seeing the building through their eyes. Oh, I've given tours before and everyone reacts the same way. They ooh and aahh and talk about how big it is. And these teachers did the same thing, but they did one thing more. They started dreaming. You may not realize how big the music "suite" of this building is. There are actually four classrooms, an office, and four practice rooms as well as the stage and auditorium all committed toward making or practicing music. What I and Brian needed from these three was how they saw distributing the space. We had made some guesses as to the best possible use, but since they actually do the teaching, we needed their input. So we took them from space to space. And once they got past that "jaw-dropping-this-is-so-big" moment, they started to dream. They talked of concerts and teaching, and practicing, and performances and sharing and on and on. Their enthusiasm was something to behold. And then it struck me.
We have talked about making the dream a reality for years. We've always talked about "the dream." And just a couple days ago I was thinking about how the dream was going to be complete. I was actually thinking, "wow, what will I do come June? How weird is that? No dream to pursue anymore." And while that is true for me, it isn't true about the dream. The dream continues on. It continues in the people that we hire to teach and to be administrators. They will come in and teach in ways they may not have had space to before or with things they've never had before. They will come and do what God has called them to do and find new and improved ways to make them happen in this beautiful place. I guess we never do stop dreaming, do we?
January 8, 2011: Message to the faithful
Those of you who are regular and maybe came out here yesterday won't realize I just added another entry on December 10. Scroll down, click on the blog for 2010 and take a look.
January 7, 2011: Did you miss me?
Wow! I have been delinquent and to this I humbly apologize. I have many excuses (all of them good of course), but suffice it to say, it wasn't because I didn't want to do this, just couldn't find the two hours it takes to make it happen. But I am here now and to show you that I actually did do something in the last month there are actually four entries to look at so to keep up the timeline. I'll write on this one and just put pictures on the other three so make sure you scroll down and see the next two entries. You won't want to miss the recent flyover pictures that Sharon Froom sent me about a week ago.
I dropped by the school today and took just a couple outside photos. I stopped by for only a few minutes primarily to see the cornerstone that was placed yesterday morning. I have taken a photo of it for you so you can see it now, however, we have some plans for it in the future. My hope is that it will look much different and a bit more meaningful when you see it again. What is very nice about this stone is that our stone mason noticed it at the quarry and thought it would work well and donated it to the school. I think this is just a small representation of how the subcontractors as well as our general contractor cares about our school. It isn't just a building, but it means something to them as well. They want it to look nice and be meaningful as much as we do. God can certainly bless a project where there is such care and thought provided.
You will notice in this picture as well as the flyover below that the colored roof is on! You know I've looked at the outside of this building so often, I actually missed it. I drove up to it, looked at it, even took a picture of it, and on a second glance, went "wow! there's a green roof!" Lesson to me: Stop being so busy with your mind in so many places that you miss the interesting details surrounding you.
One more thought to leave you with. I know many of you look at this on Friday evenings--the beginning of the Sabbath. Since the building has become much more visible on the road, I'm getting more and more outside Spencerville comments. They are impressed and amazed at it as they drive by. It has more and more interest generated in it as it takes shape and form. And well it should! But it reminds me of one of my favorite Bible characters--Hezekiah. Funny one to pick you might think, but his life carries some great lessons that I have tried to incorporate into my own. One comes from the story of his illness and recovery. You might take the time to reacquaint yourself with the story this Sabbath. You can find it in 2 Kings 20.
Hezekiah was very ill and about to die. Instead the Lord provides a miraculous recovery AND gives him 15 additional years. He is prosperous and Jerusalem is doing well in all aspects. So well in fact, that the king of Babylon sends some envoys to check them out. They visit with Hezekiah and ask him about his recovery and in response Hezekiah gives them the grand tour--shows them everything. They are impressed. The gold, the success, the fine things in life. So impressed that they go back and tell their king who later comes back to take it all (but that's another story). What is missing on the tour, though, is the gratitude of God. Hezekiah never once tells them that his success and his health is from God. Can you see the application?
We have a beautiful building, an amazing building, an historical accomplishment in the North American Division. Never before has one church done such a task. People are watching. People are asking. People are commenting. And we are remiss if we do not give thanks and credit to God for making it happen. I am awed by His wonderful blessings. I am amazed that we have come this far. I am blessed that He has taken the talents and blessings within this congregation and turned it into what we see in these pictures here today. But please never take the credit for it. Don't give it to me or Pastor Lutz or anyone else. When someone says or asks about this building, always, always, always, include gratitude to God for what He has done for us in order to make it so. It is a pleasure to serve Him and witness His bountiful love and blessings. Never forget that.
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