It was near the end of camp when Dave walked up to me totally frustrated. He could not get his VW Bug into gear.
“Chief, do you want it? I have a truck and a motorcycle and just do not need this.” I had owned two VW Bugs – I like bugs! “Dave, if you put the key in my hand, you are giving me the VW.” He dropped the key, and later sent me the title.
I pulled the VW home. “Dirk, would you like this VW Bug?” Big grin…”of course!” That afternoon Ken Siegel came by to check up on us. Ken was a good friend who worked from the Albany County Highway Department. He could fix almost anything. We showed him the VW, told him the problem. He slid under the VW – I am not sure he even had a wrench. A few minutes later, out he slid smiling. “Your VW is fixed! For Ken, it was a simple clutch adjustment. We laughed, and Dirk now had a VW bug that did not sound or look very good, but it was fully operational.
Dirk was 14 and had just returned spending several weeks In Kenya. First he stayed with the Art Davis family, frontier missionaries. Art was a Deerfooter and he had a son Dirk’s age whom they planned on bringing to DL the following summer. While with them he helped pour a concrete floor and build a small house. Next he stayed with the John Barnett family who also had a son Dirk’s age. They took Dirk on a Safari, and they spent several days at Rift Valley Academy, where many missionary kids went to school. During non-class time, some students had built vehicles of various types.
“Dad, my sisters have sold their horses. Can I have one side of the barn for my mechanic shop?” I said we would buy the materials if he would do the work. Dirk soon brought me his plans and the materials list. We went over it carefully.
Step 1: Remove the back wall of the stall so the hay storage area could become part of the shop. Step 2: Pour the concrete floor – something I had never done. I thought we would hire it done, but Dirk said he had helped pour a floor in Kenya. We read up on the process and got ready for the cement truck to arrive. Long story short….the concrete was pretty hard by the time we had the floor reasonably leveled out. Dirk rode his bike across the freshly poured floor, and his tires barely left a mark! We learned a lot!!!
Over the next few months he reused all of the materials from the back wall, built a wide sliding door, and fully insulated, wired, and sheet rocked the walls from the stall height up. In came the VW, and the dismantling began. We had found another VW for parts – $50. With the DL Executive Committee’s permission, Dirk had access to the Deerfoot’s tools during the school year: torch, tig welder, sand blaster, paint gun, ETC.
When finished, his sister, Jenna, drove it off for college. Jenna did not have Dirk’s knowledge of the car…and soon realized she would be better off without it. Dirk now had a driver’s license – and a VW. Several months later, in a down pour, a curve came up quickly. The car slid across the road and slowly rolled into a corn field. Nothing dramatic…but the car was re-shaped. The farmer pulled the car out of the field and Dirk called. I came with the tow bar and as we pulled the battered VW home neither of us had much to say. Then…”Dad, this is an example of a bad decision”. We laughed weakly. Again he rebuilt the VW…this time it was body work.
When Dirk left for engineering school, he had field experience, experience that also helped him be prepared to be the plant manager for the company that built the cement makers for the building of Hoover Dam. He was 23. He quit that job, went to seminary, and soon he and wife Jennifer were missionaries in Bolivia where he bought an old Jeep Cherokee which needed care, but would take them to back country villages. Dirk calls our barn “his school”.
While a pastor in the Albany suburb of Delmar, He, Jennifer and their 3 sons, with help from men in their church, some with sons, are building a log cabin along the WestCanada River.
Living In Partnership With God may provide opportunities for you to learn or to teach many different skills: from lawn mower repair to construction to computer skills. The relationships we build through teaching practical skills may open hearts to Jesus and His love, and prepare people for living in today’s world. DL does this through wilderness camping – and the maintenance of the camp during the summer, and on work weekends.