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Two Hands


Townes Van Zandt was born in 1944 in Ft. Worth, Texas. He was one of the most brilliant and talented songwriters of all time, and at the same time, one of the most troubled of human beings.  Many of his songs reached the top of various music charts, recorded by the likes of Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Emmylou Harris, Don Williams and Gillian Welch.  He was recognized for his exceptional intelligence early in school, but suffered from severe depression and addiction to alcohol and drugs his entire adult life.

I was pleased this week to discover two of his songs, released in 1972, that I had never heard before. “Two Hands” and “When He Offers His Hand” reveal that Townes had heard and understood the gift of forgiveness that faith in Christ offers.  After sharing our MDS Elgin response building with the local Alcoholics Anonymous group, I am saddened that Van Zandt apparently never made the commitment to their twelve step program during his life.

I got two hands       I want to clap my hands together

I got two legs           I want to dance to heavens door

I got one heart         I gonna fill it up with Jesus

And I ain’t gonna think about trouble anymore

We have reached the end of our 12 weeks using our “two hands” to build five houses in Bastrop County and the joys expressed in these words are alive and flourishing.  Back in January, on the brink of beginning the houses, we were cautiously optimistic and expecting God would let us complete what He had planned.  As we began the last week of March, needing to get the last two houses ready for dedications on Thursday, we were concerned and hopeful, still relying on God to help get them done

A group of eight young men from Wisconsin provided most of the hands for our crew leaders from Ontario, Pennsylvania and Germany to manage.  The young men’s willingness to do whatever was asked of them to the best of their ability was very appreciated.  The finishing tasks included everything from final touch-up painting, completing the ramp at each house, working under the houses to install dryer exhaust vents and water heater drain lines, plus using a lot of “elbow grease” to get the windows, floors, cabinets and trim ready for dedication day.

The two hands of our lone woman short-term volunteer from Pennsylvania were in high demand. She had extended her stay for a second week, and lent her experience in getting each of the last two homes ready.  At the end of Wednesday, we were all wondering how it all came together so well.  Needless to say, the dedications were wonderful, joyous events.  There was no outward dancing, but the hearts of our clients, family, friends, officials, and volunteers were certainly full.

Now the Lord resides inside a house of golden

And faith is the door and love is the key

And warm is the light pouring from his mighty windows

And that light, my friend, it shines on you and me

These words could be describing the houses we dedicated.  I have overseen close to 70 new houses with MDS, but I never get tired of dedication days.  The men from Wisconsin were first time MDS volunteers and had never seen a dedication.  There is a lot to take in by the first time volunteer, but my eyes see the faith of our clients, the love of the families and friends, and God’s warm light pouring in from the Texas springtime outside.

To cap off the week, Ms. Cristina, one of our clients, and two of her sisters provided a wonderful supper of fajita meat, rice, beans, tortillas, guacamole, salsa verde and salad on Friday. The food was great and gave our cooks for March the opportunity to pack up the kitchen on Friday, instead of Saturday morning.  The guys from Wisconsin missed out on this feast, because they left at noon on Friday, after doing many of the things needed to dismantle, pack and close down an MDS response.

When the wind blows on that faithful morning

And I close my eyes, Lord, and fly my body home

I don’t want my friends to cry no tears about me

I’ll be bathing in the glory of the throne

No one knows when the day that Van Zandt talks about will come, when it is time to fly to our eternal home.  But we do know that we are now all heading home from Elgin.  The only tears are those of joy at the completion of the tasks God entrusted to us. We are indeed bathing in the glory of what has been accomplished.   So, we repeat the joyous chorus of the song, celebrating with our souls, smiles and hugs.


I got two hands,      I want to clap my hands together

I got two legs,          I want to dance to heavens door

I got one heart,        I gonna fill it up with up Jesus

And I ain’t gonna think about trouble anymore

Closing down the Elgin tornado MDS response, in Bastrop County, Texas, saying farewell to our fellow long term volunteers:

Jonas, Evie, Bob, Sharon, Dick, Janey, Laura and Carl

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