“I DID IT! I CAN WELD! OH MY GOSH!” is what I screamed after completing my first ever oxyacetylene weld a few weeks ago. We all face some pretty scary moments in our lives, and we conquer them with a positive attitude along with a little elbow grease and some help from others. For me, one of my scariest moments happened this fall in my first ever agricultural mechanics class, and I was pretty lucky to have a great support group help me take apart my first small gas engine and weld for the first time.
Walking into my first day of my first ever shop class this semester was a nerve wracking experience for me. The fact that I had virtually no experience in a shop made me worried. I constantly compared myself to everyone else in the class since several of them had more experience than me in a shop setting. As our teacher, Mr. T, started rattling off the different things we would be doing in class throughout the semester on our first day, I was tempted to just quit and take the class some other time. But I didn’t.
At the start of the semester, I was lucky to be paired with someone who knows a thing or two about small engines and welding and is too humble to admit it, and his name is Noah - and he is as pro as the welder to the right (no joke). While I did not know him incredibly well at the start of the semester, I knew one thing was for sure, he was going to be in for a long semester as my partner. I had no idea what I was doing, and I made that clear from the minute we were paired! But, he was willing to meet me where I was at without judgements.
Throughout the semester, I have missed some class for FFA events, been confused on numerous concepts in the textbook and have missed countless demonstrations in the shop. But Noah didn’t mind - he WANTED to help me. In fact, I even thought the flywheel was the muffler when we were working on our engine… so you can see that I am not kidding when I say I was a wreck! Despite this, Noah had one overall goal in mind this semester - to help me so I knew where the parts on the engine were and how to lay a bead on my metal. In fact, he frequently sacrificed several workdays in class to help me ensure that I got my required welds completed; he put others before his own needs. This, my friends, is what we call a servant leader.
I am a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason, so I believe God keeping me in this shop class happened for a reason. What is that reason? To be honest, while learning about how to take apart an engine and learning how to weld have been fun, I value the relationship that has been built and the memories that have been made between my friend Noah and I in this course. Had I given up and dropped this class on the first day, this experience would not have happened and I would not be as close with Noah as we are now. Noah and I grew so much through taking apart our engine and welding in the shop, and even though I am nowhere near perfect and still struggle at times, that doesn’t even matter. Why? Because now, we have welded the friendship of a lifetime and work together inside and outside of the classroom and I find so much more value in that. In fact, we even volunteered this weekend by ringing bells for the Salvation Army!
FFA members, I invite you to take risks. You will grow as a result, and better yet, you will be as happy as Noah and I were when we finished putting our small engine back together. Although you might be worried or nervous about how to approach these situations, give them your all because going into an experience, you never know what you can get out of them. For me, I welded a friendship. What will YOU weld next?
Stationed by the Door,