They say that everyone has some sort of initiation into ministry. Some sort of catastrophic event that you eventually look back on after a few years and say “I remember when I was going into ministry and that happened. Wow, I was so young and naive…I still can’t believe that happened. Do you remember when that happened!?” Well, that moment came for me last night.
It was a night just like any other night. Our first night of leading the curriculum at high school lifegroups. I went over to Gretchen Russell’s house to help her make the spaghetti for all of the kids. (Gretchen is our youth staff administrator, so i know her really well after working with her during both internships). Gretchen had to leave early last night to lead another ministry that was going on at church last night. So, trying to be a good volunteer, I put away her clean dishes, washed her dirty dishes and loaded them into the dishwasher…you know, going the extra mile. The other leaders show up and the water finally starts to boil. At this time, I take the lid off the pot and set it down on the flat top stove…proceed to put the spaghetti in the pot…and go to put the lid back on the pot. Well, i attempted to at least.
However, there was a slight problem. The lid was stuck. I thought “well this is funny, the lid is stuck…hmmm.” But i figured, as it usually happens with anything that is stuck, you can just slide it a little bit and it will pop off. You know, release the suction or whatever. So i tug on the lid….nothing. I try pushing it and prying it off…still nothing. By now I’m getting a little worried. “Guys….uh…..the lid is stuck to the stove..” I said. The leaders laugh. “No really, guys, im serious…it wont move.” So Justin, being the guy he is, steps up and attempts to move the lid. Nothing. So another leader devises a plan to stick a knife under the lid and pry it off. Nothing. “Well maybe if we unscrew the handle…the hole at the top will release the vacuum inside that must have been created.” We unscrew the handle, and the screw doesnt move….making it impossible to form a hole at the top, which would have released the vacuum effect causing the lid to suction to the stove. A few leaders try pushing, pulling, prying….but with no success. Justin steps up to the stove once again, this time giving it his best effort. He pulls the lid with all of his might as the entire stove moves with him. The lid doesnt budge…not even a millimeter. By now we’re ALL worried…and a bit confused. “Is this a joke? What did you put on this, Angie?” Justin said. “No seriously..it isnt a joke. I put it down just for a minute to put the spaghetti in…just like everyone else does it. No trick….nothing…” I said.
After 5 or 10 minutes of trying to release the lid from the stove, we decide that we’ll just leave it. I thought, “Maybe if we just leave it and the condensation dries off a bit, or the lid cools down a little…it will just release itself.” So we just leave it and go on to discuss how crazy this incidence is. “We’ll just play pranks on the kids when they get here, asking them to try to grab the lid…we’ll all have a good laugh…” Justin said.
It wasnt even a minute after Justin said this that we hear this AWFUL noise….what sounds like a glass plate shattering on the floor. We all turn around to see this:
The flat top stove….COMPLETELY SHATTERED.
I stood there in a daze. “What did i just do? I can’t afford to fix this.” I was speechless. The other leaders in a frenzy about what had just happened. No one from the Russell household was there. It was just us…..grateful to even have a home to meet in…..and we (I) had just shattered their stove. I had no idea thats what flat top stoves were made out of. Hundreds of thoughts raced through my mind in the matter of seconds. Somehow the lid had created such an intense vacuum that the power of it had caused the stove to shattered to pieces. Seriously…how had this happened? The leaders instantly began assuring me that it WASNT my fault….anyone could have set the lid down on the stove. But that didnt make me feel any better about the situation. I just made a really really expensive mistake.
After collecting ourselves, we had to pull it together because lifegroups were going to start in less than 15 minutes. Knowing that the spaghetti pot was uncovered, we didnt want to chance the fact that a few slivers of glass might have landed in the pot. So we quickly threw out all of the spaghetti while one of the guys went to get pizza. We thought we had agreed to get real pizza…but he soon came back with a bunch of frozen pizza and finger foods….that we then had to use the OVEN to cook it!
In the meantime, I went outside and called Gretchen and deliver the news. “Gretchen?…Is this gretchen? Okay…um…we kinda have an emergency at your house. See, i was cooking the spaghetti, you know…and the water started boiling so i put the lid on the stove and put the spaghetti in…you know….and went to put the lid back on and it wouldnt move. Like, it wouldnt move at all.” (my heart is pounding out of my head) “okay so we all try to pull it off…justin pulled it so hard that the oven completely moved away from the wall and it didnt budge. so we just leave it…and suddenly, the lid must have created such a strong vacuum underneath it that i just shattered your stove. Your stove is completely shattered.” Gretchen…in her sweetest voice…”oh. okay well you’re okay…um….maybe unplug it? Its okay…its not your fault…” “NO GRETCHEN..ITS COMPLETELY SHATTERED.” “Its okay, really. its fine. Dont worry about it. Really.” “Oh my word, Gretchen. I feel awful. My heart is racing so bad right now and i feel SOOOOO SOOOO TERRIBLE.” “Its really okay. Dont worry about it.” “okay…well…..we’ll talk when you get home.” “okay sounds great, see ya!” She’s the sweetest woman I’ve ever met.
Needless to say, the night went on. The leaders decided to stick together and all take the blame for what happened. (thank you, thank you, thank you.) But of course, in telling the story, all the kids started joking that i had broke the stove. We proceeded to break into groups and start into our lesson. Of course…the lesson just HAD to be “Going from PRIDE to HUMILITY.” Go figure. I thought i was being a great helpful little volunteer but i end up breaking the stove. Good object lesson…yeah thanks God.
The night ended, both Gretchen and her husband came home and were sooo totally okay with it that it almost felt weird. (They actually said that it gives them a good excuse for changing all of the countertops…something they’ve been wanting to do for a while now.) But still….i feel horrible. I hope the appliance company pays for the damage…because that was totally a FREAK accident!! And i would feel even MORE horrible if they have to pay to replace the oven. Sigh.
Today the whole church staff knew about me breaking the stove…even seeing the pictures…so they saw just how much damage was done. So yeah…i heard all about it today. “So Angie…gretchen told me about last night.” “Um Angie? Do you know anything about a stove? Perhaps a broken one?” “Oh hey Angie….dont break that microwave when youre making your lunch.” Yep…heard it all. 🙂
Leave it to me to break the stove. It could’ve only happened to me…seriously. Wow. But at least someday ill look back at this story, and people will be amazed when i tell it. The night I shattered a stove.