"The dust must be three inches deep here!" Roland was surveying his first pastorate. The sun beat relentlessly down as he unlocked the door of the rickety, old, store building that would serve as his first church. "I've never seen dust that actually splashes!"
The church in Granger had been burdened with many problems thru the years, but God had sent the right man, young though he was, to pastor in that tiny town.
As he walked down the aisle of that grimy little building, Roland's heart must have thrilled with excitement. It was small, but it was the beginning of his full-time ministry. standing in that empty room, he made a commitment to God, a commitment that was to earmark his ministry from that day forth. He told God that his highest priority would be reconciliation between God and man.
During the summer Roland's great physical strength came into the limelight again. He got a job pitching hay to help put food on the table. One day he and the local tough guy, who was considered to be the champion strong man, were on the same crew. Stripped to the waist as they worked, they were an impressive sight. Roland's muscles rippled in the sun as he pitched hay, muscles hardened by years of work in the lumber mills from the time he was old enough to handle a saw.
The friends of the so-called champion began to needle him to wrestle the new preacher. He was reluctant at first. "I don't want to fight a preacher," he said laughingly, but his friends kept teasing him. Finally, the "champ" gave in and said, "How about it, preacher? Want to have a little wrestling match?" Roland politely declined. This, of course, made the other man determined to get the preacher to wrestle! "Hey, preacher, I think I'll just take you over to the irrigation ditch, and duck your head in the water. What do you say to that?" The "champ" was having a real good time harassing Roland. His taunts began to gather steam. Roland breathed a sigh, threw down his pitchfork and calmly moved over to his challenger. Once again, his coolness, speed, and agility came to his aid. It was soon apparent that Roland had the upper hand, as he easily wrestled the struggling champ over to the ditch, and proceeded to duck his head under the water again and again.
This established Roland as the new power king in the Yakima Valley!
In the fall, Walter Daggett joined Roland as his associate minister. The two young men took turns preaching and leading the song services. Roland was an excellent preacher and spent much time in prayer and meditation over his sermons. Although the congregation was small, Roland's attitude then and throughout his ministry was sharing the kind of Jesus who would leave the thousands of people to who followed Him to go to Samaria to minister to just one untouchable woman. To Roland, every sermon he ever preached was the most important, because that sermon might be someone's only glimpse of God.
There were times in those days when Roland sought God, but would not receive any inspiration on what to give his people. He never would give up though and several times in those early years, he would get right up to the pulpit, and suddenly the power of God would come over him giving him exactly the right sermon to meet the needs of his people.
The two young men did not have much money. During the week they lived on day-old bakery goods which could be purchased for next to nothing. Then Sunday came, the day the ladies in the church invited the young pastors home dinner. Those dear women loved to cook for them because they were like vacuum cleaners. They ate absolutely everything with such relish; they were fun to feed. Sometimes the two fellows were lucky, and a pie or a pound of butter or even a jar of mayonnaise was delivered to them during the week. Roland use to laugh and tell his children about his co-worker Daggett, who would always divide whatever was brought in half, and say to Roland, "I don't know what you're going to do with your half, but I'm eating my half right now!" God must have definitely kept his hand on those young men with their unusual eating habits.
The blessing of the Lord was indeed upon Roland and Walter in their efforts. In 1941 the church was filled to capacity and they had to build. The two young pastors asked God, "What do we do now? There is no money, but there is no more room!"
As they were driving thru town one day, they passed an old apple warehouse that someone had begun to tear down. Roland and Walt looked at each other. "Lumber!" They found the man who owned the building, and offered to help tear it down in exchange for the lumber. The owner agreed to let the men have as much as they needed.
The two young pastors spent the summer pulling nails, and hauling lumber in an old van. They didn't have the slightest idea of how to build a church or any kind of building, but God had even this under control. One of the best carpenters in town came to their church. Each evening he would come by and lay out work for the aspiring young carpenters, so that inexperienced though they were, they were able to get the sprawling frame of that new church up. Not only that, God gives the very best, and the lumber from that warehouse was some of the finest available.
Roland was happy when his young sister, Margaret, moved to Yakima. She had grown up to be a lovely young woman. She was now married, and had become an excellent cook. She was concerned about the eating habits of her brother and his associate, so whenever she could she would invite them over for a delicious home-cooked meal.
One day she decided she would give the boys a real treat. She told them to buy anything they wanted for dinner and she would prepare it for them. Roland and Walt came to her house loaded down with the ingredients for banana cream pies. Margaret laughed and said, "All right, I'll bake your pies, but where are the rest of the things for you special dinner?" Very earnestly Roland told her, "We are used to eating only one thing at a time, and all we want is banana cream pie!" The boys firmly believed that they were in heaven as they settled down to their dinner of as much banana cream pie as they could eat!
Although Roland was a busy young pastor, he kept in close contact with his younger brother, Walt. Walt was now an extremely good-looking teenager. There was a beautiful relationship between the two brothers. Walt had a charismatic personality and was well liked. However, during his teen years a little distance may have come between him and the Lord.
Roland was very happy when Walt told him that he was going to go to Northwest College and then into the ministry. One night about midnight just after he had gone to bed, there was a knock on the door of Roland's little apartment behind the church. He answered the door to find Troy, Margaret's husband, standing there. Troy told him that he and Margaret were very concerned. Walt had changed his mind about going to Northwest, and was instead planning to seek his fortune in California. His bags were all packed, and he was planning to get up early and leave. Roland hurriedly dressed, and drove all night from Granger to Everett. He arrived there early in the morning and walked into Walt's room. Walt eyed him suspiciously, and said, "Rol, what are you doing here?" With a wisdom that was not his own, Roland answered, "Since this is your first day at my old school, I drove all night so I could go with you and help you enroll!" There was a little silence, then Walt said, "Hey Rol, that's great. My bags are all packed!"
This must have been a special day in heaven, as God looked down and watched this choice young man who, thru love for his older brother, was guided into a ministry that has affected the lives of many people.
War is Declared! Uncle Sam wants you! Walter Daggett and Roland were busy working for the Lord, and weren't too worried about the draft. Then one day, Walter got an unexpected letter from Roland's mother. She said, "Dear Walter, I hear you are going to be drafted into the army, and as I have been holding you up before the Lord, He gave me this special Scripture to give you. 'He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all they ways'" (Ps. 91:11). Walter had no idea of going into the army, at least not yet, but he thought it was nice of Roland's mother to care. The next day, a draft notice came for him. Reluctantly he said goodbye to Roland, and to the work they had started together.
Roland was left to carry on. It seemed lonely as he walked into his tiny apartment. That loneliness was tempered by the fact that a young lady he had meet in Bible school was coming soon to marry him. He was about to start a new era in his life.
The people in his church were so excited about their pastor's new bride. They all got together, and filled up the larder in the little kitchen.
Then they decided that it was a disgrace that their pastor didn't have a new suit for his wedding. They also decided that he badly needed a new pair of shoes. Since Roland took a size 13D, he had a hard time finding them.
Everything was in readiness for the new bride. Then word came. She was not coming. She had changed her mind about marrying him! His heart was broken.
There he was, young Pastor Buck, with his new shoes, his new wedding suit, a house full of food, and no bride. But God was in this also. It wasn't too much later that a beautiful, spunky redhead with a peaches-and-cream complexion and turquoise eyes came bursting into his life.