Becoming Brighter and More Beautiful

I admit I’m a wimp. A book can give me nightmares. I had to read “Auschwitz Lullaby” by Mario Escobar during daylight. I read a chapter on my morning breaks.

But today is a holiday! We had no plans and I decided to finish the book. What better way to observe the 4th of July than by reading about a family whose freedoms were taken away?

From the very first chapter, Helene won small victories. They arrested her husband while he was still in his pajamas. She convinced them to let him get dressed. She got out his best suit and changed from her work clothes to a traveling suit. She was allowed to pack a change of clothes for them and all 5 children.

2 Corinthians 2:14, “…In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.” The Message

In Auschwitz, she had greater victories. She saved 2 barracks full of people from death. Miraculously, after several months, she was allowed to visit her husband for a few minutes. She had a choice – give in and become like the others or choose to help wherever she could.

2 Corinthians 3:18, “…And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him.” The Message

The book was humbling. How many times have I chosen to complain? How many times have I rehearsed incidents where I was wronged? How many times have I placed the blame on others?

God is teaching me as I volunteer in the E3 Cafe. The building was purchased from a grocery store. It is rented out to the public.

Each week, the Cafe Team comes in, washes the dishes we will use, cooks for the evening’s event, washes the dishes, and wipes everything down. Some nights we don’t get out of there until 9:30 or 10:00 p.m.

A volunteer made lemonade in the cafe kitchen for the tent service. She and I visited during ice cream night. She saw the sinks and suggested we dump Clorox in them.

I explained that we have done more than that!

We have used:

  • Baking soda and vinegar
  • Commercial degreaser
  • Magic Erasers
  • Commercial stainless-steel cleaners
  • Cameo stainless-steel cleaner
  • Non-scratch scrubbers
  • Plastic scrapers

There is only one thing that works – Elbow Grease!

I have scrubbed and scraped the left sink for 6 weeks! Wednesday, I pulled out my big gun.

“Ladies, I brought my chain.”

Several had worked on the sinks with me. A few gave up. The mold returns each week because there are layers of grease stains in which to grow.

My chain is square-shaped with links and a ring on one corner. I use it to clean my cast iron skillets.

A new volunteer was curious about the chain. We poured bleach over the sinks and rinsed them. Then we sprinkled Cameo on them. We took turns using the chain to dig the grease off. She worked on the middle sink.

I would love to tell you the sinks are bright and shiny. They are not. But Heather and I know the places where the grease stains used to be. Next week, I will bring my Cameo and chain and hit them again.

Each week I see improvement. The specks of red paint are gone. The line of hard water from one faucet is gone. The rust stains are gone. And the raised grease spots have been dug off.

That sink is like my life. When people look at me, I am not bright and shiny with success. But God is working on me. He’s scrubbing and scraping off bad habits. He’s removing junk others threw on me – like the red paint.

He keeps working. He won’t let me mold or rust. He never gives up and neither will I.

2 Corinthians 4:1, “Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times.” The Message

The summer is one-third over and I’m still working on the same sink! I had hoped to “spring clean” the cafe to surprise Candi when she returns in the fall. I don’t know if I’m going to make it! But I learned something important from Helene – stick to your routine.

In the last chapter, the Nazis are determined to cover up their horrific “experiments.” They transfer the healthy people to another concentration camp. But Helene knows too much. Her family is not on the transfer list.

Will they sneak out through the tiny space by the sauna? Will they die in the gas chamber?

The Nazis brought them some bread and sausage.

“Eat slowly, children.”

July 4, 2019: 2 Corinthians 2-5.

“2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide”

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