On Christmas Sunday we had 32 visitors! We had no choir or cantata to mesmerize our guests, but the little 35 X 35 garage-turned-chapel reverberated with the sounds of traditional Christmas hymns. Every song was sung acapella; we still had no pianist.
I remember being incredibly excited and nervous at the same time. The crowd of 75 seemed like 75 hundred! The theme of the message was, The World's response to the infant Saviour. My sermon finished with the question, What is your response?
Ted Jackson responded. Ted was wide at the shoulders and narrow in the hips. His hair and mustache were streaked with grey. He seemed to fill the aisle as he came forward. At the altar, he extended his huge calloused right hand. I extended my right hand and watched it disappear.
I came to learn that Ted could do anything. He was an electrician, fabricator, carpenter, and improvisor. He was a "Jack of all Trades" and a master of perseverence. I have never met a stronger human being -- pound-for-pound -- than Ted.
It wasn't long before his 6'2" frame was stooped over in our dark cellar, putting the big potato house heater together. Ted also tracked down some wood!
The wood came from a plywood manufacturer. As tree length wood was delivered to the sawmill, some of it was so big that the butt had to be cut off; the thick ends would not fit through the saw. We bought the ends for twenty-five dollars a truckload. It was not split or fully seasoned, but it was all hardwood!
Ted and his friend Pete had made a hydrolic wood splitter. We split wood in earnest and threw it into the cellar through a window in the foundation. When we were done, we had almost 12 cords of hardwood packed and stacked under our house!
It may not have been the safest thing to do, but each day we would surround the burning stove with wood to dry it. We figured a fire was less of a danger than freezing to death.
Since 1983, few Christmases have brought a greater blessing than Ted Jackson!