You never really know under what circumstances you are going to meet one of the really special ones. Maybe we are all special ones, and there's just too much mud caked on us for it to show. But, at any rate, I met one of the special ones about twenty years ago, and this past Sunday, March 3, 2013, we had his memorial service. Charlie Poor. That was his earth name; his real name was Charlie Overflowing With Riches and Spreading Them Around to Everybody He came In Contact With.
This is Charlie Poor Story Number One: Charlie wasn't the first of his family I met. That position is held by his son Scott. I met Scott when we were both members of North Georgia Young Men's Vida Nueva #6. My job was to talk about communications. Scott's job was to wait on a table. It wasn't even my table; but I still can see him, 20 years later, just busting with excitement and joy as he ran around getting drinks and snacks and other goodies for the young men who he was assigned to serve, and Scott taught me in that moment what a joyful servant looked like.
After that VN weekend, I started working on the teams regularly. And Scott was on the teams regularly, too. Now, there was another young man who was an important part of those early years of the VN movement; his name is Rafe Hyatt. And it was customary for all the adult men talk about what a wonderful young man Rafe was (and he still is a wonderful man, although he really, really old now, heh, heh,heh) and we would say things like, "The only problem with Rafe is that he's not the right age to marry my daughter," and other such witticisms.
Well after one team meeting, there were a bunch of us, adults and teens, still hanging around, and the Rafe topic had come up, and we were all saying what a fine example he was, and...
....and then I saw Scott sitting in a chair, listening. And I do believe God spoke to me then; and he said "Be careful of how you praise Rafe, because Scott is going to be your Youth Leader when you are Director, and you don't want him to think he is second best." And I got it, I totally got it, and the only real surprise to me was that I had no idea that I was ever going to be a Vida Nueva Director.
And Scott WAS a wonderful young man, and he is now a wonderful adult man, and I could tell some more stories about him, but I won't because this is about Charlie.
It was maybe a year after God had told me that I was going to be a Director before the V N Council told me the same thing, and I was finally officially in the market for the youth leader. In that time, I had met with Charlie Poor, and immediately discovered I liked him and could trust him. So, I thought to run past him the idea of asking for his input on selecting Scott for the position.Charlie was as straight as it is possible to be. He told me that Scott was like every other teen, in that he had his struggles, but that he had no doubt at all that if I asked him to be the youth leader for VN 11, that he would do a fantastic job. He was right. Scott did a fantastic job. The single greatest thing I remember about what Scott did: he was supportive of me. He was a paraclete: one who comes along beside to support. Fantastic, solid, humble, cheerful, hard-working young man. And you know what? I learned all of these things about Scott; and as I grew to know Charlie better, it was clear to me where Scott had learned those things.
This is Charlie Poor Story Number Two: In the fullness of time, Charlie was asked to be Director of a Vida Nueva. And, in the interim, my first-born son, Jordan, had grown into his teen age years, and had gone through VN, and had developed the reputation for reliability and energy that is such a solid part of his character. And I was pleased when Charlie called me and said he was returning the favor: he told me he was planning to ask Jordan to be his youth leader, and he was asking for my input. And I gave Charlie the same report: Jordan, like every other teen, had his struggles, but if Charlie asked him to be the youth leader he would do a fantastic job. I had another request to make of Charlie at the time, though. I told him that if did pick Jordan as youth leader, I wanted to be on the team, too, in a position that was directly subordinate to Jordan. I told him I wanted to be able to show Jordan submission to authority from the other side. Charlie got it. He totally got it. And he made me Head Table Cha, which I knew how to do from seeing Scott perform as a table cha those many years before, and I got a chance to serve under my son, and it was good. I made T-shirts for all the table chas, with a picture of Grover the Muppet on the front, with the caption "Hello Everybodeee! It is I, your lovable furry Table Cha (name)!" And on the back of the shirts, I had the visual for Charlie's weekend: the eagle soaring.
This is Charlie Poor Story Number Three: When Richie Casey was Tres Dias Rector, he asked Charlie to be Head Dorm Cha, and I was one of the dorm chas. Charlie wanted us to do some skits for the candidates, in addition to cleaning the toilets, which was pretty cool. And I asked if I could make the t-shirts for the dormchas, and we all agreed that was cool. I scrambled the letters of "dorm cha" so each of us chas had a different name (I was Dr. Macho; somebody else was MachRod, I don't remember the others) and as Head Dorm Cha, Charlie got to be Cheddar O'Ham. And the skits we did were funny; the last one had Charlie introduce each of the others in increasing amounts of protective gear, required depending on how awful the conditions were in the bathroom. And at the end, I started screaming outside the conference room, and then staggered in with ripped clothes, yelling for Richie. They had smeared me with about a dozen brownies, leaving big chunks embedded in my chest hair; and my story was that I had been cleaning a toilet, when there was an explosion in the next stall that had blown me out of the bathroom. And as soon as I finished saying that, Tony Olivastri came in patting his tummy, and saying, "Well, that feels better!" And I screamed "RICHEY!! I NEED A HUG!" and ran toward him, and Richey ran out of the room. It was funny! maybe you had to have been there...
And this is Charlie Poor Story Number Four, and the last: When Charlie was VN Director, he would call the house to speak to Jordan quite often, and if I answered the phone, we'd chat a bit before I passed it to Jordan. One time, I asked him how it was going with the team meeting process, and he told me that it was okay, but that there just seemed to always be somebody who was complaining about something, and form my own experience, I was pretty sure he was talking about adults who had little patience with teens. So I made a suggestion: "Tell 'em to go pound sand up their butt." Charlie busted out laughing. I guess he had never considered doing that. I assured him that it was a useful strategy to keep in mind. And I wrote him a palanca note at the first team meeting with the acronym: GPSUYB. And then for the weekend, I brought him a leather mallet that came from my father's wood shop and a bag of sand, and a note that said "In case it comes up on the weekend, I want you to be prepared to provide the tools." Charlie appreciated it; and though I CANNOT imagine him ever really telling anyone to do that, I know that if he did, they would receive it in good spirits. So, if you should happen to be looking trough some of the old palanca Charlie picked up over the years, and you find a leather mallet, either cherish it for yourself, or, tell me to come get it, and I will.