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Hello again! It’s been a while since I wrote one of these, but this is less of an article and more of a story that I’d like to tell you. What do you get with teamwork and cardboard? A fun family activity!

Recently my boys and I discovered our community was holding a cardboard boat race. It sounded like a fun adventure to experience, but also a lot of work, too.

The rule for the race was that we had to use only cardboard and duct tape—as much of both as we wanted, but nothing else other than for decoration. We began with planning what exactly we wanted to build, unsure if it would actually float.

When we sat down to plan, we decided to build a cardboard Blue Birdie! We began with a picture of Blue Birdie printed out and had to determine what parts we were going to keep and what to remove. And so we removed the floats and the plane’s roof, and kept most of the rest. But first, we needed a lot of boxes and duct tape! We had to get many colors of tape and sizes of boxes. Some of those boxes we picked up from a church project and some we had laying around the house from recent repairs.

One Friday afternoon, we began construction. The boat and the oars had to be made from the same materials, which meant we had to carefully plan each part. I worked on the structure while my oldest son, Eian, worked on taping off the oars, wings, and fins for the plane. My youngest son, Nolan, spent his time filling in the oars and the gaps in the plane where we made it connect smoothly from one size of box to another. All in all, it took us about three days to build—a lot of hard work that we couldn’t have done alone.

On the day of the race, we were nervous. Rain and lightning came down and caused us to have to wait an additional hour before launching. We wore our Discovery Mountain T-shirts and were ready. There were four other boats that were ready to launch, too. The boats had to get around a very large blow-up water playground as an obstacle and circle back to park on the beach.

When the race started, two of the five boats sunk as soon as they hit the water, while the three remaining competitors continued onward. We launched last, but we continued to pump each other up and work very hard. We talked to coordinate the rowing with our paddles even as my paddle began to fill with water. Soon we caught up with the other two boats. The largest boat had gotten stuck with a smaller boat. Rowing as hard as we could, we passed the first boat, then the second, pushing even further past them. Quickly we made the turn to the widest part of the obstacle and gained the lead!

We were excited but nervous. By this time, my oar was completely mushy, filled with water, and barely held together with tape. My boys worked extra hard steering and I tried to row with what was left of my paddle. Water began creeping in the bottom corner, and I scooted forward to lessen the load on the back of our Blue Birdie. The boys, too, were getting a little waterlogged, but the finish line was in sight! We rowed harder and Eian and Nolan turned us towards the beach, getting us home.

We got out of the boat and they announced that we had won first place! Wow! We went in happy to be working together as a team in the building and rowing of the boat, with the attitude to just have fun together and not worry about winning. We did end up winning, but more importantly, we believe God used our boat as a way to show others Discovery Mountain. (Seeing our shirts, people were even cheering for “Discovery Mountain” while we were racing!) We took the opportunity to hand out bookmarks on shore. After we won, when I picked up that boat to pull it onto the beach, it was really heavy. Cutting it open, I saw that the boat was full of water beneath our top layer of cardboard. God kept that boat afloat and used it to witness to others.

It reminds me of the verse Romans 8:28 (ESV): “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I think God used our fun little activity to bring awareness, and with it teamwork that was so much sweeter than winning.