Ted, Don Ross, Byron, my wife Sandy, and I got all that wood split and into the cellar. I don't remember ever enjoying such back breaking work more! Our system of stacking the next day's wood around the stove to dry worked pretty well, too.
That reminds me -- I haven't told you about Byron and his wife, Cecile. Now they are a pair that will beat three of a kind! Their son had been the founding pastor of New Life; they soon adopted us.
Byron and Cecile were in their sixties. Byron was a plumber by vocation and a "horse trader" all the time! He and Cecile loved to track down antiques and collectibles, mostly Americana.
I often had the privilege of watching him dicker with potential buyers, sellers, or traders. One time, Byron traded for an old slate sink and hand pump and installed it in their kitchen. We also have a picture of Byron in an antique tin tub pretending to wash himself with a long handled scrub brush (he had clothes on).
Their house had lots of antiques in it, but there was always a box full of interesting toys for any kids who showed up. Our sons, Justin and Joshua, loved that box of toys and the Harmons. Byron would often make an outdoor fire and they would cook hot dogs and roast marshmallows. At that time my mom and dad were living in Kansas and Sandy's family lived in Texas. The Harmons became the grandparents our boys needed.
Byron was another one of those guys who could do just about anything. He kept the old furnace in the farmhouse going and the Miller gun furnace in the garage-turned-chapel sending warm air our way. Sometimes the furnace in the chapel would start screeching during a service. Byron would reach through the air duct and use a bar of soap to keep the belts from squeeling. As the belt that turned the fan ran across the bar of soap, it would create a blizzard of Ivory Snow (you're smiling).
One spring, Byron, Don Robbins (nearly 80), and I put new set of piston rings in his old pick-up truck. We did the work outside! I did the lifting, handed Byron the wrenches, and enjoyed every minute of those men's company.
Byron only left the state of Maine once in his life. When he was in the Marines he was forced to cross the border. When he got back, he never left again!
Cecile was a God-send. She was a very compassionate and patient listener. Many times Sandy and I went to her and unloaded our hearts and then we would all pray together. Sandy and I knew that we had a safe house whenever we needed one. . . just head out the Fort road, drive up hill for a while, and turn right into their driveway.
On our first trip to the "County," we had stopped on that same road not far from Byron and Cecile's to pray and seek God's direction for our young family, not knowing that soon we would be traveling that road many times to the house of our good friends.