This month I want to give you an update on the "Markedly reduced parking" concerns that I wrote about last June. I am thrilled to report that those worries were completely unfounded and wanted to share God’s amazing intervention…
If you will remember, parents picking up kids at school had to wedge their cars (on packed dirt) between huge beech trees, whose massive trunks also created blind spots when trying to back out onto a busy street. And because it rains a lot, the area was often one big mud puddle by the time 4:30 pick-up rolled around. We had also begged the mayor to install something to slow traffic at the entrance of the school to make it safer for the kids to cross (and cars to back out during rush hour) but to no avail. I dreaded pick-up everyday for the last 10 years because of this miserable combination.
Well, the new bike path has literally changed our life! Everything they have done to coddle cyclists benefits our school with no cost to us:
- It does not use up all the parking space, but just narrows and defines it, so that parking is more orderly than before.
- Visibility has been improved with the decision to remove of two of the trees!
- They also spread a new bike-friendly surface over the dirt that resembles a mixture of sand and concrete – No more mud!
- Our family has also benefitted personally because this bike path continues halfway to our village, making biking to school a safe and pleasurable option for the first time.
- And for the grand finale, they installed speed bumps at the entrance of the school!!
The other parking problem at church isn’t resolved yet, but I had a ball making a dent in it a couple of weeks ago. Let me describe the nightmare in greater detail:
- The lot is being overrun by Japanese knotweed. The Brits call it the most invasive species of plant trying to overrun the whole country. It can grow 10 feet in 10 weeks. Cutting it down without immediate herbicide treatment will encourage it to spread underground. It is billed as the biggest problem facing the UK construction industry today because it will grow through concrete and brick. I recently asked the pastor if he was aware of this menace to our building and he had no idea.
- The 4 mechanics that share our parking lot fill the spaces that are legally ours with cars to repair, along with empty jugs of motor oil, beer cans, air filters, broken glass, windshield wipers, bench seats… You get the picture.
- To make matters worse, a clothing donation bin was also put there and it seems to be a magnet for people who want to dump unwanted stuff around it. The creepiest thing was a bird cage, dead bird included!
Well, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve taken on Sunday school at church and the love is mutual. To teach the kids the joys of servanthood, I wanted to take them out to the lot to collect the trash, but I needed a good weather day. A big motivator was that one of the mechanics had recently cut down a ton of knotweed and left them in huge piles, making it easier to see and access the trash. (And it already looked better with the jungle eliminated temporarily, as I doubt he invested in the gallons of Roundup it would take to kill it for good!)
So last Sunday morning it was warm and sunny. I didn’t expect many kids during fall break, and no other lesson was gelling in my spirit. So I grabbed some extra gloves and trash bags and looked forward to enjoying one of the last days of a beautiful fall. I asked the kids what they thought about the parking lot and told them that God memorializes every kind deed done on earth in heaven, so we’d be creating something beautiful in heaven at the same time that we picked up trash. I prayed for protection from injury and then we joyfully went at it, even happier when we came upon little creatures whose habitat we were improving with every sack filled. They even got to practice their recycling skills, putting bottles and cans in one bag and car parts in the other!
When we were done, we stood in a circle and said prayers and sang songs to bless the mechanics and the land, and blew bubbles to prophecy future beauty and symbolize our prayers going to heaven. Then back in the classroom, we had a snack where between the 9 children, they could count our crackers in 5 languages! I love Europe. Then I had them all lie down with pillows and quietly ask Jesus to take them up with Him on a cloud to show us His view of the parking lot. They saw beautiful things. During that time, the sun vanished in a rainstorm and as we left the church, a magnificent rainbow filled the sky. I know at least one little girl received it as a confirmation of God’s joy over their servant hearts that day.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for decent parking, for they will be filled."