Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 30: There's an Angel in my Kitchen

The hardest thing about the TH - about any business, really - is staffing. And so when Krista had to leave due to the increasing demands on her time, I found Michelle. When Michelle discovered that it wasn't really her thing, I shuffled through the resumes I had received this summer from people hopeful of employment.

Summer employment, it turned out. I was beside myself, trying to figure out what I could do. So I finally did what I should have done in the first place: asked God to take care of it and squared my shoulders and got on with the day at hand: I had it on good authority that that evil was sufficient!

That week, I got a call from Angie, Allan's wife: she would be willing to come and bail me out.

Angie started with the indepth Friday cleaning. I came home late that night and walked into a place that smelled fresh and that gleamed. She had even taken the glass window out of the gas fireplace and cleaned it, inside and out; I hadn't known that was even possible ...

The coat-rack was next: she moved out the boxes and mail and hats, and suddenly there was a place for people to hang up their jackets.

She and Allan fixed the men's urinal. She sweet-talked Allan into hanging pictures, doing the heavy lifting, running to the recycling depot.

Then I needed a kitchen leader, after Michelle was through. I piecemealed a couple of weekends together, and suddenly there Angie was. "I could come in on Saturdays and Sunday evenings, if you need me," she said diffidently.

And my kitchen, too, has not been the same. She combines her natural talents in the kitchen with extraordinary ability to guide the younger staff members - and me - to working more efficiently. No stirring spoon is safe when she's cleaning a counter! And desserts look beautiful and dinner plates are full.

However, everything changed for me when she invited me to go to their church one Sunday morning. Her music team was leading the service and she was playing the piano.

As I sat down, I realized that I had never heard her playing the piano in church before. Oh, I had heard her accompanying Allan or someone else for special music, but not leading the singing as she was this Sunday.

I was mesmerized by her hands: those little, square, efficient hands were giving the piano a workout; and somehow she managed to sing at the same time!

But when she led the song The name of the Lord is ~ ~ a strong tower, and those strong, capable hands went thump, thump on the chords where the ~ ~  marked time, I saw in my mind's eye those same hands scrubbing floors and bathrooms and pots and pans. I saw those hands getting burnt on gravy. I saw those hands pushing a mower and raking and filling bags. I saw those hands blistering on the end of a couple of leashes belonging to a pair of overexcited Mountain Bearnaise dogs as she was pulled along behind them. I saw those hands administering eye tests to tiny little Mennonite kids who were too scared to talk out loud.

I saw those hands hugging her tall sons, holding her husband's hand on her knee as we say grace at the dining table, dialling the phone to talk to her mother in Oregon, pulling weeds for her father-in-law, shaking as she held the notes for her tribute to our Uncle Gordon at his funeral.

I saw those hands knocking on the door of that strong tower.

And I lost my heart to those practical, magical hands. I lost my heart to Angela.

I've thought about it so often since then in this month where I've been pondering how blessed I am. I have known about Angela for almost 22 years now. We've been in each other's homes almost every week and we have frequently spoken and laughed together. 

But I never knew her until she came to work at the TH.

Twenty-two whole years.

I still don't know all there is to know, but I am so excited to uncover more about this woman who is integral to our family. I am starting to see glimpses into her heart and I know enough to say with certainty that her diligence and her commitment and her passion for things done right are exemplary. I can trust her implicitly and explicitly. She is brave and sweet and funny.

And my storage room is immaculate ...


  1. Emily has spoken so highly of Angie - I am not surprised to read such high praise.

  2. Day #30: Sisters. Brothers. Family.

  3. I have to say....the storage room really is emmaculate. Good job Angie!

  4. Angela Dawn, a new day dawned when you became Allan's wife and part of our family: light shone into our world as only you can let it - though clear, strong glass panes, designed to shine out over a rocky sea; light from within and above. Pain has bevelled your edges so that we see prisms of glory glowing in your eyes. That glory is also reflected in the gleaming woodwork of your home, and in the teahouse. No doubt it's there in the vision of the people you help to see better, and it's definitely in Allan's smile as he talks with you. Thank you, Angela Dawn Ironside - our wonderful sister, team-mate and beloved fellow-pilgrim.


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