doorsAs many of you may know, I was raised by my grandparents.  A tornado destroyed their farm near Staplehurst, NE and they chose to move to the big city of Seward, NE.  Here, my grandfather took on the position of custodian at St. John’s Lutheran Church, School, and Parish Hall.

Needless to say I spent a lot of time in all 3 buildings, helping out with a variety of tasks.

At a very young age I learned how to vacuum (loved doing it after weddings with all the rice clattering into the machine).  In addition working a floor scrubber and buffer were part of the trade.

Each summer at the school meant sanding down the desktops and then varnishing them again.  And, of course, the cement floors had to be re-painted battleship grey!

As well as learning a lot about other custodial work (emptying and burning trash, dusting and sweeping and mopping), it also afforded me the opportunity to hang out with great teachers and pastors.

Over the years I watched and talked with such great people as Pastors Yauk, Spitz and Heideman; along with teachers Miss Maehr, Miss Grotelueschen, Miss Bartels, Mr. Schmieding, Mr. Kaiser and Mr. Lemke.

Throw in all the student teachers from (then) Concordia Teachers College and you can see that I had a lot of mentors.  Over 9 years (Kindergarten through 8th grade), I learned and was taught by some of the finest educators and pastors around.

While back in Seward, NE this past weekend for Homecoming, I took the opportunity to stroll through my old grade school, the old church and parish hall now gone.  So many memories flooded back.

But most of all was the door to my grandfather’s “office” (see photo attached).  Behind the door, still same same after more than 50 years, were tools and cleaning supplies and the stairs down to the old furnace.  Having spent hours in that room myself, I reflected on the lessons learned behind that door.

While my grandpa was not afforded the education he and and my grandma made possible for me, he one of the wisest men I have ever known.  I still stand in awe of the things he taught me (like smelling rain coming).

Of course, there was the other side of the door where I met so many wonderful people in my kindergarten through college time who also shaped my life.  The best thing, however, was how they treated my grandfather!  They honored him and the work he did and considered him to not only be a valuable employee, but a friend as well.

Perhaps this is why I still honor all the people who have worked for me and with me in my nearly 50 years of ministry.  And perhaps it is why I thank the Lord for lessons learned behind and outside closed doors!