As spring cleaning is in full swing, it seemed like a good time to tell you about the most fun volunteer cleaning job I ever had.

Not to be confused with the worst volunteer cleaning job I ever had. Which involved about 4 dozen empty-and-needing-to-be-refilled condiment bottles after a church-wide picnic at the huge church I attended in college. I was assigned to refill
the mustard bottles.

And I hate mustard.

But this particular job, done approximately 8 years earlier in my life, and which may seem like a job more fitting for the “worst volunteer job ever” title, was, actually, far more fun. Especially since I was about 14 and was doing it with a good friend.

My friend, Anne (who happened to be the pastor’s daughter), and I, were assigned to clean out the church steeple at Orcas Island Community Church, the church I grew up attending on Orcas Island, Washington.

Orcas Island Community Church: and its fun-filled steeple.
Orcas Island Community Church: and its fun-filled steeple.

It was a church clean-up day. Anne and I came mostly, I’m sure, because we wanted to hang out together, not necessarily because we felt called to serve. I mean, service was fine and all, but it was way more fun when done with a friend. I suppose, really, it still is.

I don’t know who was inspired to assign two young teens to this job, but whoever he or she was, must have been a genius. I remember hauling the huge wet/dry vacuum up two flights of stairs to the steeple door. I’d been in the tiny storage room at the bottom of the steeple before – let’s face it, I’d been in every nook and cranny of the church, including the baptismal pool – but I had never been UP the ladder that was found at the back of the wee room.

But now the way was open and I was thrilled. I don’t know how we got that vacuum up the ladder – I suppose that someone must have helped us – all I remember as we got to the top and stood INSIDE the steeple’s apex – were the flies.

All dead. And about two inches deep.

Crunch. Crunch, crunch. CRUNCH. With every step. Everytime we moved. Everywhere we looked. Dead flies.

Remember: I was 14…and not particularly squeamish.


It was not a long job, but we took as long with it as we could. We vacuumed. We pretended to be grossed out. We vacuumed some more. We peered out the slats of the steeple and yelled down to our friend in the parking lot below. He never did figure out where those voices calling his name were coming from. (Hopefully we didn’t drive him insane thinking that he was hearing voices inside his head.)

I love when church gives kids opportunities to serve. Especially when those jobs are age-appropriate. Somehow vacuuming up dead flies has never been as much fun since. Not sure why…

2 Responses

  1. Crunch, crunch, crunch. I can just see the two of you in that steeple having a grand old time vacuuming flies. Such fun. I, too, love when kids are engaged in serving. Gives them ownership and pride and connection.

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