Today is August 12, 2012.... School starts in 2 weeks and I will be back in the routine of work, kids, school, etc. My last blog was back in June right after school was over for the summer. For whatever reason, I have not felt the urge to write over the past few months. It may be that I needed to relax and take a break from "producing" something... It seems like so much of our lives are going through mental lists of "to do" items, completing them, and then checking off our accomplishments. I think I needed a break from any "to do" items for a while.
Taking a break from blogging did not mean taking a break from the homeless though. On the contrary... we have been going down every Sunday at 2:00 to bring food and hope to our North 1st. Street friends. There were some days when they did not think we would be there because it was so hot, but there we were.... setting up our canopy tents, lining up the tables, arranging the food, and passing out the water... lots and lots of water... and sometimes even popcicles :0)
The heat has not kept us away, nor have the long lines of people, the summer schedules, or the thunder storms. Amazingly we have always had enough volunteers. There are no sign up sheets or scheduled workers...we just get the people who show up... and to my amazement... we always have enough people to help. I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. They show up in the blazing sun with smiles on their faces... ready to serve the Lord. It is humbling and so appreciated. There is something wonderful about standing shoulder to shoulder with other people who have "like hearts" for the people we serve. Our volunteers this summer have ranged from grade school age to 80+ years old- (bless their hearts!).
We have also not lacked for food or clothes to distribute. See... the Lord has spent the last few months working on my heart. He is in the process of growing it and transforming it to be in alignment with His Will. Throughout the summer, I felt like the Lord was trying to teach me something... but from week to week, I couldn't put my finger on it. Today I felt like I had a glimpse of some of the things that I've learned.
1. The first thing that I can see the Lord working with me on is to give up control... control of all the details. As I have mentioned before, I tend to worry about where we will get what we need, if we will have enough, and how it will impact our family. The Lord has shown me this summer that He has it all under control. God has shown me that all that we have belongs to Him and that my job is to just obey what I have been asked to do... Specifically- to feed and clothe the people on North 1st Street. I am not to worry about where the things come from, God provides. If food is not donated, then I am to go out and buy what is needed. God will take care of our needs.
2. The second thing that I have learned has been to stop questioning "why" we are doing what we are doing and to not "add" extra tasks on to our directions. God said very specifically to "feed" and "clothe" the people on North 1st with food, clothes, hope, and love. That is all.... We are not to try and fix their problems, give them rides, find them housing, or "church" them. Our job is specifically to feed, clothe, and speak hope/love to the poor. Our message is clear.... "Jesus loves you very much and so do we."
3. Finally, I have learned that God is infiltrating North 1st St. and that I can not even begin to understanding all of the amazing things that He is doing in the hearts of our volunteers as well as the hearts of our First St. Friends. We have seen a wonderful number of people find jobs this summer. We have watched them transform as hope continues to grow in their lives. Some people have opted to go into rehab while others have found better housing. One man replied after Keith inquired about his week, "It has been a really good week. I am not sure why things have gotten better. Maybe because I have been hanging out with you guys." It was not us... that made the difference... it was God in us... that he encountered.
Today a lady made an interesting statement. She said, "I watch you guys give every week to these people who chose to spend their money on drugs instead of food for themselves and their children. You never judge them for this or make them feel bad. You just give and give. You dont' ask anything from them. I want to start giving back. Can I help next week?" (She is homeless, but observed this over the past weeks.) To me, this was very humbling and rewarding. She gets it... she described how Jesus loves us.... Somehow it is showing through. That is all I want... I just want them to know that this way of loving... is how Jeus loves us!
We have met homeless people from Yakima as well as people who have ended up here from clear across the country. One special lady I was able to pray with is not much older than I am but she is suffereing from the late stages of pancreatic cancer. She is so thin with a beautiful sunny smile. Unfortunately she is homeless and has so much pain that she uses alcohol for pain relief. A year and a half ago I lost my own mom from ovarian cancer. Her last weeks were mostly incoherant to her because she was so heavily medicated with morphine due to the severe pain. I can't blame the lady I met for self medicating with alcohol... when I think of the pain mom was in.... I can only pray that this lady is able to find pain relief in this last stage of her life. She is a believer, but is also suffering from a painful disease. Today she told me that she was beaten up last week. My heart cried for her...I stopped and prayed with her for protection and relief from the pain. This summer has helped me drift down the spectrum of "judgementalness"....We just never know what we would do in someone else's shoes.
Over the past few months we have seen people thrown into jail and people released. We have seen couples broken up and reunited. Babies have been born and babies have been removed from homes. People have been filled with hope, jobs, and a future as well others filled with depression and despair. New people have come and filled in the places in line where old friends once stood. Some of our regulars have disappeared while others have remained and grown. The Lord has taught me this summer that "He" is responsible for the growth and development of each invidual and that each person is at a different point along the path of life. My job is to be obedient to what is asked of me by God and to do my part with joy.... God takes care of the rest.... All of the rest!!!
Through this summer I have gained a peace and contentment with my life... I have become comfortable with a simpler, less stressful day. It is not necessary to make "busyness". God has specific things that He calls us to... and sometimes we need to be quiet enough to hear what those things are so that we are not just running around being "busy".
Thank you Jesus for being my Lord, for loving me, and for continuing to grow me. I love this adventure that you have us on. Please keep my heart soft and open to you. In Jesus Holy Name- Amen! :0)