Expert Roof Scrubber

Written by Brian Culbertson on March 03, 2016

Recently, I visited Belize (neat country by the way) doing some short term mission work with a small team of four guys. One of our projects was to clean a metal roof of an orphanage that had thick, black mold growing on it, causing the home to retain heat and not reflect the sun as it should.

Sounded simple enough: grab the nearest power washer, spray it off, and voilà.

The problem was, there was no power washer, so this meant washing the roof by hand with a small scrub brush.

I’m not a fan of heights...

I’m very clumsy...

Manual labor isn’t really my specialty...

But what the heck—it’s for orphans.

As the four of us carried up our buckets of soapy water, a leaky garden hose and small scrub-brushes, I must admit the task was daunting. As we balanced our way across the metal roof, careful to step only where the studs ran horizontally across, so we didn’t fall through and plummet to our death, we started to scrub...

And scrub...

And scrub...

20 minutes in, my arms were on fire. My legs were shaking from trying to balance. My back ached. We had covered all of about 10 feet of what appeared to be at least 3000 square feet of roof. The project seemed impossible. Our methods were clumsy and awkward. We weren’t functioning as a team, all doing our own things. Most of us, had never done anything like this before.

Yet, after the initial pain wore off and our muscles sort of acclimated to the work, something interesting started to happen. We started to figure it out.

We figured out some techniques that made using the scrub brushes easier. We began to coordinate our efforts, one guy would scrub, the other spray with the garden hose. We made a pattern, so that we were moving across the roof in the same direction. We had great conversations, and almost forgot we were working. We got more comfortable being on the roof and moving around. And before you knew it, we’d cleaned an entire side of the roof in what felt like a very short time.

Soon it was lunch, and we quickly knocked out another side, then another and before you know it, we had a beautiful clean roof, that had once been black and ugly. Sure our bodies and bones hurt, and we knew it’d be worse the next day, but the satisfaction of completing a difficult task is one of the best feelings in the world. In the process we had become “expert” roof scrubbers.

It’s still early in 2016. I’m not sure what insurmountable tasks you have ahead in 2016, or projects you’ve already begun. Perhaps you are in that early stage, where everything is awkward and uncomfortable, and it feels like you’re accomplishing next to nothing.


Keep working. Keep figuring it out. Keep making movement. Develop strategies and new techniques. Don’t give up when you’re tired, and things don’t seem to be going as you’d expect. Before you know it you’ll start to figure it out, and eventually you might just be an expert roof scrubber, or whatever it is you’ve set your mind to achieving.

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