Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Faith of My Father--by Linden (Lovegren) Malki

My Dad built things. He had grown up in the lumber business, and always had projects going.  Another of his major passions in life was our church, Grace Baptist in Spokane.  A Christian Education wing was added on to the main building when I was growing up, and included in the new building was a new furnace room (very important in Washington winters!)  Dad kept thinking about the space where the old furnace room had been in the lower level of the main sanctuary building, and decided that it was a good size and a good location for a really good kitchen. The main kitchen at the time was a small, antiquated room off in a corner of the fellowship hall in the basement. He felt sorry for the folks who cooked church suppers (he himself was an excellent cook), so when he retired he compiled the designs he had built up in his head when he couldn't sleep at night, recruited a volunteer crew of church members and friends in the building trades, collected donations of building materials, and they gutted and remodeled the whole lower level of the original building. I was in high school at the time; while obviously there were costs involved, I don't recall a lot of high-profile fund raising. God showed him the need, gave him the inspiration and talent to do it, and he did it with the faith that the people and materials would be there when needed.  I remember that a flooring company gave them free boxes and boxes and boxes of two-inch commercial-grade floor tiles in a variety of greens. So a bunch of hardworking and appreciative guys started in the middle of the room, laid down one color of these little bitty tiles in an expanding square until they ran out, got a contrasting color and laid that those next,  and kept going until the entire room had a new floor, two inches at a time. When I was in Spokane about forty years later, that floor was still there and still good. (It was finally replaced a few years later.)

The kitchen is still modern-looking, very functional, and still in use. He didn't do it for personal credit, even though it was named after him when it was dedicated--it is still Lovegren Hall, even though "our" church has since merged with another congregation. He would be pleased to see something I saw happening there recently: a Bible study with lunch provided for people who worked at the nearby courthouse and other area businesses. He was committed to this church and this community, and his faith is an important part of my own spiritual life.

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