A day in the life

It wasn’t a “typical day” in any sense, though I’m not sure I’ve ever had one in this job.  But here’s a glimpse into a Monday (June 28) in the life of this pastor:

8:45 a.m. Phone call on my way to the office: the church secretary’s father is gravely ill and the family has been called to rally around.  Brief stop at the office, then off to hospital to learn he has already passed away. Spent some time with the family.

10:00 Back to office where air conditioning is out; a new motor has been ordered.  It’s 84-degrees today and humidity is hanging in the air.  Offices, on the second floor, are getting unbearably hot.

Internet is not working at office for the second day. Don’t know what’s wrong, but we are switching phone/internet providers, and maybe the switchover will solve the problem, but I don’t know when that will happen.  Tried resetting the server with no success.  Staff has no access to email, but I can read my messages on my phone and give brief responses on the tiny keyboard.  Longer messages will have to wait.

10:30 Technician from cable company arrives to install new phone service and internet!  He needs access to wiring, modems, servers that I don’t know about.  We figure it out after lots of poking around in closets on various levels of the building.

10:45 State elevator inspector shows up for annual visit.  Needs access to elevator control room, and I have to find the key. The emergency phone in elevator not working because of new installation.  Will we be cited?  No phones are working anywhere in building.

12:00 Internet system installed, but still not working.  Technician says we must contact our volunteer IT guy to change protocols on routers.  Luckily, he’s able to come right over.  After checking it out, he needs info from his office to complete the job, but offers to come before work tomorrow.  Internet can wait another day, but it reminds me how dependent we are on this technology.

12:15 Phone lines are working.  Elevator inspector leaves happy. Phone technician says we can’t use voicemail until we log on to computers and set up the system with our assigned user name and password.  Who knows what those are? And we can’t log on until internet is reset. Oy veh!

12:30 I brought a sandwich from home, and since there’s a cross-breeze in the church kitchen, I stand at the counter at noon and wolf it down with a Snapple.

Volunteer arrives to change the church sign.  He’s got a message to go on the sign, but where are the letters kept?  We search for ten minutes, then another staff member searches behind us and finds them.  Where is the key for the lock on the sign?  Found it!

1:00 Temperature is climbing in the office.  I grab a portable fan from the sanctuary and plug it in my office.  I have my laptop, and the coffee shop down the street has free WiFi.  I can’t go because a couple is due to arrive at 3pm to tour the church for possible wedding.  I decide the fan is only blowing hot, sticky air on me.  I sit in the cooler conference room and do some sermon study, but after 10 minutes I’m getting too sleepy and I’ve read the same commentary section 3 times over.  I need to move.

1: 30 I stroll to the library across the street to return a travel book.  Vacation is coming in four weeks, and it can’t come soon enough.  It’s cooler outside than it is in the office.

2:00 A high schooler shows up to paint the preschool classroom.  Another teen arrives to help the church educator get things packed up from the old classroom.  What good kids!

I call the new phone company to determine user name and password so we won’t miss any voicemail messages.  After a long hold time, phone company says we don’t need it at all.  Voicemail is working fine.  Why didn’t I check it before I called?

3:00 Air!  The A/C motor has been replaced, and it’s starting to take some humidity out of the office.  Back to reading for Sunday’s sermon.  Return phone calls.

4:00 Wedding tour couple never show up, so I’ve been sitting here waiting for nothing.  Grrrr.

Plumber arrives to install sink in preschool classroom and informs us he must shut down all water to the building, drain the system, do his install before we can use water again.  He wants a time tomorrow to do it, but rooms are booked by groups for morning, afternoon & evening. We agree to meet at 8 a.m. and he has a plan to minimize the down-time.  Whew!  We don’t want unusable bathrooms on these hot and sticky days.

A really cold Diet Coke with Lime gets me through the late afternoon.

5:00 A brief counseling appointment.

5:30 Checking in with the church custodian.

5:45 Dinner break.  I need to get outta here!  When I go out to the car, my glasses fog up in the humidity.  What is this, Louisiana?  I head to a nearby fast food joint where there’s no one in line, but service is painfully slow.  I don’t care.  It’s air conditioned. I ordered a sandwich, fries and drink that should be enough calories for two days and enough sodium for a week.  Is it any wonder I’m becoming super-sized? Manager apologies for slowness and gives a coupon (score!) for another bloated value meal. A couple of parishioners are here too, and stop by for a friendly greeting.  I refill my iced tea and head out the door.  I’ve had enough tea now, and since I’m mostly decaffeinated, I wonder if I’ll sleep tonight.

6:30 Back at church office.  It’s much cooler, but the temp won’t seem to go below 75.

Prepping for a small, informal wedding at 7 p.m.  A couple in dire circumstances can’t afford fees charged elsewhere, and can’t afford not to be married for financial reasons.  It was just them and me, but they had dressed in their finest.  She carried a bouquet of plastic flowers that one would place in a vase on a grave.  They are beaming and happy, and their gratitude makes my day. I took their picture in front of the altar.  They ask what time services are on Sunday.  I smile and tell them the worship schedule.  I know we’ll never see them again, but I hope they experienced a little bit of grace and welcome today.

7:30 Church board and committee meetings begin.  Small attendance tonight, but some wonderfully dedicated leaders.  They are the church.

I sit in on the Trustees meeting. Do we need a new lawn mower, or can we just replace the wheels on the 20-year old one?  These people do so much for the church without payment…and little thanks. Can we change the procedures for wedding cancellations? The group decides to buy 2 new water hoses to help the volunteer gardeners.  Planning a fund raising event for August during the local festival.

Air temp has finally dropped to a comfortable 72 in the office.  Now I won’t dread coming in tomorrow.

8:45 Write some notes for tomorrow’s Bible study.

9:30 Heading for home.  No worry about all the caffeine; I won’t have any trouble sleeping. The custodian is locking up behind me.  The twenty minute drive home is perfect for thinking, praying, summing up the day.

Here’s what I’ve learned today:

  • I’m grateful for the dedicated staff members and volunteers who work very hard to fulfill the mission of this place.  If anyone thinks the minister does it all…think again.  It’s a team effort.  Some days are easier than others, but the hardest days are easier with a good team in place.
  • I’m tired, but I love my vocation and I love this place of service.
  • I’m more of a whiney geek than I like to admit.
  • God works in [very] mysterious ways.

About Ron Dauphin

Photographer, writer, proud dad, and UCC pastor.
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2 Responses to A day in the life

  1. Bobbi says:

    Loved your recap and insights on your experiences on Monday.

    It reminds me how blessed we have been to have you here for the past three years. Also, it showed me how important Kimberlee is, although I should have known because that is generally how offices work.

    Finally, thanks to everyone who makes OCC work so well. Volunteers make it happen.

  2. Barbara Rook says:

    I knew it had been a long day, but I had no idea! P.S. – you are NOT a whiney geek…

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