Well, my vacation has ended. The week went by so fast, it’s hard to imagine how much stuff was packed into it. Friday I spent most of the day finishing organizing the CORE library with a break in the middle to participate in Adopt-a-Block. I joined a highschool group in picking up trash down a street in the community around City of Refuge, and going door to door asking questions to gain a better understanding of the people and needs in the neighborhood.
I will miss my new friends, buy I’m working on plans to stay involved at some level. I have learned a lot this week, gained a better understanding of the challenges that face lower income communities and the people that live there. This week has been quite refreshing and energizing as well. More ideas and dreams have been birthed in my heart and I have a lot more to pray about.
😦 Only one more day left in my City of Refuge adventure.
Today I was in the kitchen again in the morning, helped with Safe Haven check-in for lunch, went back to the kitchen to assist with cleanup and dinner prep. Then I filed paperwork for Safe Haven.
It was fun being in the kitchen again, they’re a colorful, fun bunch of people. I love being in a big kitchen again too. It was also cool to see some faces at lunch that I recognized from Tuesday. The check-in seemed to go much quicker and smoother as well, which is less frustrating for the guests.
My, this week is going by so fast! Today was another awesome day of helping out at City of Refuge in Atlanta. This morning I was in Feed My Lambs, a Christian preschool/daycare for the women of Eden Village and the community. Never have I seen cuter kids! I wasn’t directly working with the kids since it was somewhat last minute, and to work with the kids there has to be paperwork filled out and such. I was able to organize, label and shelve books, sort construction paper and cut out some shapes for one of the teachers. While I was working, I could watch and listen to the different groups of children and observe how Feed My Lambs works. I was impressed with how well trained the children were, and the firm kindness of the teachers. At 9:30 the children have praise and worship, I would love to see the reaction in Heaven to those little voices singing “Jesus, I want my life to be pleasing to you”. I had a really hard time with the tears during that time. Part of me wishes I could quit my job and just go volunteer there every day.
After lunch I got to finish cleaning out the refrigerators that I started on Monday and finish removing tags from the backpacks for the kids. Then I headed over to CORE, the after school program and started working on organizing their library. I have a feeling that I won’t get to finish that job and it irks me. I love books and encouraging kids to read so it would be great for their library to be ship-shape, but I only have two more days and I think tomorrow is already filled up with jobs.
Looking forward to tomorrow, I’ll start out in the kitchen again, if Chef Tony needs me. Then help out with Safe Haven lunch check in, and afterwards….filing!
Today was just as interesting, rewarding and varied as yesterday. The first task of the day was making 75 sandwiches to be delivered on the street tomorrow night. After this I assisted with checking people in for a delicious, free lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent back in the kitchen, mostly helping wash dishes. I had a blast getting to know the kitchen staff and other volunteers, a cheerful, colorful group. As we checked people in for lunch it was bittersweet, the homeless were so hot, tired and worn down, some were testy but more were kind and grateful. My problems seem quite small and easily dealt with. Tomorrow morning I’ll be helping out with the children, I can’t wait!
As a result of my pastor talking about leveraging whatever we have for eternity, I have embarked on an exciting adventure. I took a week of vacation from work and made arrangements to use that time as a volunteer at City of Refuge in Atlanta. I share this here because I am having so much fun and I thought others might be inspired.
So, for my first day I did quite a hodge-podge of tasks. I started in the garden, doing a little weeding and gathering and helped get started watering. Then I moved into the Resource Center where I got to give out back-to-school backpacks out to families in need. The afternoon was filled with cleaning: sweeping, dusting and cleaning out refrigerators (that last one didn’t get finished today). Tomorrow I will probably be working in the kitchen and I might be helping out in the daycare/preschool Wednesday.
City of Refuge is located in a needy part of Atlanta and is home to several ministries; women and children’s shelter, after school program, feeding the community several times a week, job skill training, GED classes, a health clinic, just about anything you can think of. I am looking forward to the rest of my week and learning more about this incredible ministry.
A close friend took me to see Rent at a local theater in (early) celebration of my birthday. I had seen Rent before 5 or 6 years ago and didn’t really plan to see it again. It turned out to be an incredible experience, the whole thing impacted me in a much deeper way than it had previously. Here are a few things that impacted me deeply as I watched the show.
Roger, sings about glory, one song, one glorious contribution to the world before his departure from it. His death presses on him due to the fact that he has AIDS and he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be here. He fights against utter despair, trying to find a reason for whatever time he has left. I can’t imagine the hopelessness he feels, my troubles shrink in comparison and yet I have felt what he’s singing about, although less desperately, and so his song resonates with my soul.
Mimi struggles with addiction. When she tries to fight it, the dealer is there in her moment of weakness to lure her back in. Her addiction destroys her relationships and almost kills her. Watching the performance I was overwhelmed with her bondage and feelings of powerlessness. Again, I’ve never struggled to the extent Mimi does, but I’ve experienced bondage, to sin, bitterness, anger, despair, fear. As I watch her weakness and struggles, my heart aches for all of the people for whom this is an everyday reality.
The homeless people who sing several times about Christmas bells that are ringing, but not for them. The hardness of heart that can come in when you’re constantly overlooked and ignored, again, something I’ve experienced to a lesser degree.
I think everyone can identify with these characters to some extent. Who of us hasn’t struggled with despair, bondage, desperation, fear, feeling worthless, hardness of heart. And yet it’s so easy to have contempt for others or overlook the needs around us everyday. Seeing Rent again reminded me to strive to be compassionate and gracious with others but I know that only Christ can accomplish this. So I purpose once again to let Him do His work of grace in my heart, knowing that tomorrow morning I’ll need to purpose all over again.
So, last fall I signed up with Compassion International to sponsor a little boy in Honduras, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. When I looked in the mailbox this evening, I was excited to there was a letter from him waiting for me. It was actually written by his older brother, on his behalf. It was great to learn a little more about him and judging by some of the questions he asked, my letter to him hasn’t arrived yet. The ending made me cry, “He sends you many kisses and a big hug and may God bless you.” Precious!