On Saturday, I spent quite a bit of time cleaning our oven and stove top. I cleaned the oven using the self-clean function on the stove. This meant that I simply had to wipe out the oven after the cleaning cycle was complete. The stove top took a little more elbow grease. I used Easy-Off first to loosen up the built up grease and baked in food deposits. Then I scrubbed and polished until the stove top sparkled. When it was all done, it looked great.
During my summer missions trip to Guatemala, our team installed 40 stoves in the homes of widows in the town of Xenacoj. The materials for these stoves was donated through a grant from Rotary International. Each stove weighed 450 pounds and cost $125 US. The stoves are made with 11 cinder blocks, 5 prefabricated cement pieces, 7 clay brick pieces, a few sheet metal pieces, pummus stone, and two flat metal squares. Once we got the hang of it, we could put a stove together in under an hour. This included leveling out the ground under the stove, installing all the stove pieces, and cutting a hole in the roof.
This stove was not just another appliance in the house. By far, this was the most expensive material item that the widow had in her home. The stoves burn at least 10% wood than their normal methods of cooking over an open fire. The stoves also provide significant opportunity for health improvement by exhaust the smoke from the fire outside of the house instead of letting it linger inside the house and in the lungs of its inhabitants.
I didn’t think about these stove until long after I was finished cleaning up our oven and stoves at our house. But when I did think about it, I realized that I don’t want to take it for granted that I have so much. Not only do I not have to worry about breathing in the smoke of the cooking fire, I don’t have to work to gather enough wood to cook, and I don’t have to tend the fire to make sure it stays lit and gets hot enough to cook. I simply turn a knob and maybe press a button or two and my stove top is on or my oven is baking to the desired temperature. These are certainly luxuries compared to what I saw in Guatemala.
I’m not looking at taking out our cooking equipment to sell just so I feel better although the thought has crossed my mind that we could prune down our belongings quite a bit. I guess it’s just a reminder to me that I shouldn’t take for granted things like cooking equipment, other home appliances, working bathroom, running water that is safe to drink, vehicles, and other things.
While I was in Guatemala, I learned a new song. The song still goes through my head from time to time. I don’t know the name of the song or the chords, but it goes something like this:
There’s no place I’d rather be;
No Place I’d rather be;
No place I’d rather be;
Then here in Your love;
Here in Your love. (Repeat)
Set a fire down in my soul
That I can’t contain
That I can’t control.
I want more of You, God.
I want more of You, God. (Repeat)
As the song goes through my mind today, it’s a reminder that whether I’m serving in a small town in Guatemala, spending time with my family in a small town in Pennsylvania, or working at my job, I don’t want to take things for granted. And I especially don’t want to take God for granted. God is there right where I am, and that is where I want to be – right there in His love.
Perhaps, it’s a stretch to go from cleaning a stove to realizing the desire to have God in my life, but sometimes life works that way. I’m thankful for the chance to clean the kitchen on Saturday. I’m thankful for the chance to install stoves in Guatemala. And I’m thankful for a fire in my soul that wants more of God.
What are you taking for granted today? How’s your spiritual temperature these days?