We just had a very exciting week. For some time we have been talking about taking down two very large cottonwood trees in our back yard. They are messy with their sticky hulls and cotton in the spring and drop many branches to be picked up year round. They send up shoots throughout our yard that need to be dug up and of course give us a ton of leaves to rake in the fall. Then, of course there is the fact that they suck up hundreds of gallons of water making it hard to keep the lawn green. Most of all, they have posed a threat to our house and outbuildings. One of them leaned toward our house and the other over our wood and tool shed.
Last fall we happened to see Tim Schertel, a licensed arborist (and a mature Christian), at the grocery store and told him we were interested in having him come check out our trees to see if he thought he could bring them down without endangering our buildings. He came out and, after looking them over, was confident he could do it and put us on his list—a very long list! He was able to work us in last week and started on Monday morning. These trees were both about 75 feet tall and 40-45 inches in diameter at the base. Tim, who will turn 61 this spring, climbs the tree, anchors a pulley up high and then proceeds to cut off branches and lower them to the ground.
We have a neighbor, John Burn (a believer) who often helps out on our projects (and we help him out on his). It “just happened” that his grandson, Dylan (age 27), from South Carolina, is here staying with them, looking for work. We needed a ground crew to help tie off the rope, lower the branches and then take care of them as they hit the ground. Dylan was our “rope guy,’’ did a great job, and really enjoyed it. A couple of days the wind started blowing too hard to continue so it took us through Saturday to finish.
Each time before Tim headed up the tree we would have a prayer time for safety and to commit the work that day to the Lord. Tim shared that his dad had given each of the children in his family (three boys and two girl) a “life verse” of Scripture to memorize, meditate on and apply throughout their life. Tim’s verse, which he quoted for us, was Col. 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Tim definitely models that verse in his life. He knows that God has given him a very unique ability to do what he does and he does it for the glory of God and is very careful to give God the credit He deserves. He finds joy in being 70 feet up in a tree with the wind blowing, cutting off branches, which bang back against the trunk before they are lowered to the ground. We stood in amazement as we nervously watched from below.
On Friday, about 1:30 p.m., as he had removed all but the very top branches of the second tree, he rappelled down, and said we would finish on Saturday. We jokingly said we thought he might finish the whole tree that day. He said, “No, I’m a bit of a wimp!” and then proceeded to tell us about what happened to him when he was 23 years old. It was in the fall and he had been out working on his property, clearing trees and piling brush. The sun had set so it was dusk and he was bending over a brush pile when suddenly he heard a shot and felt something hit the back of his upper leg, knocking him to the ground. A hunter had mistaken him for a bear. The bullet entered the back of his upper femur and came out in the front, completely severing the bone. He tried to roll over and crawl toward his house but he realized that his leg hadn’t rolled with him! He was quite certain that He was going to meet Jesus and an amazing peace came over him. He said he had never been so happy! He was unable to make it to the house, but the two hunters found him and by then his wife, having heard the noise, was driving out with their pickup. By this time Tim was feeling excruciating pain and the only thing, besides praying that Tim knew to do was to sing, so, as the hunter who shot him got him in the pickup and began driving to the hospital, Tim was singing “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” He knew Christ as His Savior and was ready to go “home.” He told the man who shot him that he forgave him and would not sue him.
After cleaning out his wound (without any pain killer!) the doctor sent Tim in an ambulance to Spokane where a surgeon tried to put the pieces of bone back together as best he could, with lots of clamps, plates and screws. But, part of the bone began to die so Tim was sent back to the surgeon to do a bone graft from his other hip. Before Tim left for surgery, his church prayed for his healing. When he got to the doctor, they discovered the bone was healing and no further surgery was required! After 8 months recovery, Tim was back in the woods working, but fell and pulled the plate loose so they had to go in and remove it and patch things up, leaving only the screws this time. So, Tim said, “That’s why I’m a bit of a wimp!”
What a testimony—and we all got to hear it all and watch Tim at work. I praise the Lord for the safety he provided this past week and for His perfect timing in having Tim come while Dylan was here to help out. Our God is so amazing! Pray that Dylan can find employment here so we can continue to interact with him.
When Tim got down to the final 35 feet of the second tree, he tied a rope off to the top and then to his pickup which he had parked in our front yard at just the right location to fell the tree between the end of our house and the side fence (a strip about 12 feet wide!). We rolled the bolts which were on the ground out of the way so it had a clear place to land. I left one bolt close to the fence which was odd-shaped, wedged into the ground and wouldn’t roll, but which should be out of the way. After spending much time making sure his notch was perfectly located (even using a square to align it with the overhead rope), Tim made the back cut and inserted wedges and then went out and slowly backed up the pickup until the tree slowly fell to the ground, exactly where he had planned. Because it had a little bend at the top, it bounced and rolled toward the fence, but suddenly stopped, wedged up against the bolt I was unable to roll out of the way! Again, our God is so good! It is such a joy to see His hand in the details of our lives, showing His care, not only for the eternal well-being of an individual soul, but even from keeping a 15,000-pound log from “schmuking” our roses and fence! Praise the Lord! What an exciting week!