"Now, remember,” the coach said, “you have six weeks to get enough money for baseball camp. This camp will be the best seven days of your life!”
“Oh, sure,” Josh whispered to Andy. “If we can come up with the money!”
Andy groaned, “How will we ever be able to do it?”
Coach Stevens was reminding everyone to pick up their bats and gloves as Maria and Ruth came running over.
“Can you believe that?” Maria said excitedly. “Three major league players are going to be at camp. Just think how much we will learn about baseball.”
Ruth picked up Josh’s glove and tossed it to him. “Didn’t you tell us your grandpa used to play baseball with the Red Sox, Josh?”she asked.
Josh flung his bag over his shoulder as the four friends walked to their bikes. “Yes, he played with them for five years and was an all-star,” Josh answered. With a frown he continued, “But I’m not sure I’ll be able to go. Camp costs a lot and I don’t know where I’m going to get the money.”
“Me, either,” Andy said. “My dad’s been out of work for two months, and Mom said it’s hard right now just to put food on the table.”
“I’m not sure I’ll have it either,” added Ruth. Suddenly she grabbed Maria’s arm. “I’ve got an idea,” she said. “Why don’t we find a way to earn enough money to pay for camp?”
“How are we going to do that?” Maria asked dejectedly. “What can four eleven-year-old kids do to earn all that money?”
“I know what we can do,” Josh interrupted. “Let’s go over to my grandpa’s house. I want you to meet him. Maybe he will have some good ideas. He’s real smart!”
“Let’s go,” the others said. They jumped on their bikes and took off down the street.
Josh’s grandparents had just moved to town. Josh’s grandpa was a veterinarian who had taken care of farm animals. They had moved so they could be closer to Josh and his family.
“This is it!” Josh called out as he turned his bike into the driveway of an old white farmhouse on the edge of town. The fence around the large field behind the barn was old and broken down.
Andy, Ruth and Maria followed, coming to a stop under a big maple tree in the front yard. They jumped off their bikes and spotted Josh’s grandpa coming out of the barn. Three chickens scrambled out of the barn behind him, chased by a calico cat.
Grandpa stood there in faded blue jeans and a red plaid flannel shirt. White hair stuck out from under his Red Sox baseball cap. As he smiled, his eyes twinkled.
“Hi, Grandpa,” Josh called as he ran up and gave him a hug. Grandpa’s big hands wrapped around Josh as he swung him in a circle.
As Grandpa put him down, Josh tumbled to the ground. Just then a large black and tan German shepherd ran up with his tail wagging. He licked Josh’s face. Everyone laughed as Josh wiped his cheeks.
“Samson couldn’t wait to see you face-to-face again, Josh,” Grandpa said with a laugh.
Josh sat up and hugged Samson. “You’re a good dog,” he said.
“My friends will like you a lot.”
“Well, you’ve all met Samson,” Grandpa said. “You can call me Grandpa Pete. But I don’t know your names yet. How about introducing me to your friends, Josh?”
“This is Andy, Maria and Ruth,” Josh said. Just then the calico cat rubbed up against Andy’s legs. Surprised, he jumped away.
Grandpa laughed. “That’s Patches coming over to meet you,” he said. Ruth and Maria knelt down and started petting Patches. Just then Josh’s grandma stepped out onto the back porch.
“Hi, Josh,” she called. “I’m glad you brought your friends over. I’m making lemonade. I’ll bring you some in a minute.”
“Thanks, Grandma,” Josh answered. Then he turned to Grandpa, asking, “Where’s Abigail, Grandpa?”
“She’s in the field out back,” Grandpa answered. “Come on, kids, I’ll introduce you to Abigail.”
Josh ran over to the gate with the others close behind. Josh pointed to a little hut with straw on the ground. “That’s where she is,” he called back to his friends.
“Look at this,” Maria exclaimed as she arrived. There, on her side, lay a huge pig, her pink belly sticking out like a watermelon. She lifted her head and grunted when she saw the kids, but didn’t make another move.
Maria stooped down next to Abigail and started to pet the pig’s head, but she then stopped and looked at Grandpa. “Will she bite me?” she asked.
“Probably not, but be careful,” Grandpa cautioned. “Abigail’s going to have some baby pigs in about three weeks. She’s gotten so big she’s uncomfortable and a little grouchy. Try scratching behind her ears. She loves that.”
Andy moved closer to Grandpa. “There’s no way I’m going to touch that fat old pig!” he said, pushing his hands deep into his pockets.
“Well,” Grandpa said, putting his arm around Andy’s shoulders. “It’s wise to be careful until you get to know strange animals.”
“Grandpa, when are you going to bring your horses from Ohio?” Josh asked.
“Just as soon as I can repair the broken-down fence,” replied Grandpa. “Horses need a fence to keep them where they belong, you know.”
“I don’t know any more about farm animals than I do about getting enough money for baseball camp,” Josh groaned. “Grandpa, that’s one of the reasons we came to see you. Our coach told us about camp this morning. It’s going to be so much fun! There’s even going to be three major league players there. But we only have six weeks to get enough money to go. Our parents won’t be able to help us very much. Can you think of some ways we could earn some money?”
Andy looked up at Grandpa and said, “We’d do anything to go to camp. We just don’t know what to do!”
“Well, I know a good place for you to start finding out about money,” Grandpa said.
“Where?” they asked in unison.
“Right here,” Grandpa said, pulling out a thin, black book from his shirt pocket. “I carry this with me all the time because it has the answers to a lot of my problems.”
“Grandpa, that’s the Bible,” Josh exclaimed. “What can it tell us about earning money to go to camp?”
Grandpa smiled as he pulled off his baseball cap. “I’ve spent years studying what God says about money, and believe me, He says a lot. Did you know there are more than 2,350 verses in the Bible that talk about money?”
Josh was growing impatient. “But, Grandpa, we need to know how to earn money,” he said, a frown wrinkling up the freckles on his nose. “If we don’t, we’ll never make it to camp.”
“I understand, Josh,” Grandpa answered. “I’ll make a deal with you kids. If you let me teach you some of the things that God says about the way we should handle money, then I will help you figure out some ways to earn enough money for camp. There will be twelve lessons. Before each lesson you’ll need to look up some Bible verses and answer some questions. You’ll also memorize a Bible verse for each lesson. And if you will help me fix this broken-down fence and take care of Abigail and the other animals, I’ll pay you for your work.”
“Will you really?” Maria said. “It would be so exciting if we could go to camp.”
“Is it a deal, then?” Grandpa asked, standing up and brushing the straw from his jeans.
“Sure, it’s a deal!” said Josh, sounding excited for the first time since the coach told them about the baseball camp.
Just then they heard the back door open. Grandma came out carrying a tray. “Who’s ready for some lemonade?” she asked.
“I am!” all four kids shouted as Grandma set the tray down on a bale of hay.
“Grandpa,” Josh asked, “can we start right now on our first lesson?”
“Well, this is as good a time as any,” said Grandpa. He paused and looked over at Maria and Ruth sitting on the straw beside Abigail. “Look at Abigail. As soon as Maria and Ruth started scratching her ears she started smiling at them.”
Abigail was so contented with the girls’ attention that she had fallen asleep. With her closed eyes and turned-up snout she looked like she was smiling. The boys laughed, and Andy ventured over to sit beside her.
Gingerly he reached over to scratch her ear, then pulled his hand away as she grunted loudly.
Grandpa laughed and continued, “There are three things I’d like you to remember from this lesson. The first is that God says a lot about how we should handle money. Remember, there are 2,350 verses in the Bible that talk about money. Why do you think the Lord said so much about money? He wanted to give us clear directions for how to use it. He wanted to help us avoid making mistakes in handling it.
“The second thing I’d like you to remember is that God’s way for us to handle money is different from the way most people handle money. God tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9: My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. The Bible tells us all about God’s ways, and that includes how we should handle money.”
“We’ll be able to remember that, Grandpa,” said Josh. “What’s the last thing we should know?”
Grandpa took out his Bible and turned to Luke 16:11. “Andy, why don’t you read Luke 16:11 for us?”