Saturday, June 13, 2009

Jefferson City, Missouri (part 2)

I ran upstairs to gather Tom and head out of the hotel so we could go to the Salvation Army with David. Soon, we were in his green 4runner and driving the short distance to serve supper. I met some of the youth (a girl who had far too little sleep with only 11 hours, her friend, and April) and some adults who I would serve with.

I washed my hands in a large basin that had foot pedals to control the flow of water then I pulled on my disposable rubber gloves and got to work. Actually, it was mostly chatting for a while. Around 5:15pm we started serving the oncoming line. The people who came through are down on their luck and need a hand to get back on their feet. The Salvation Army gives them a place to live and food to eat for several months, but not too long (they are there to learn skills and they must seek employment while they are in the Salvation Army).

I got to eat supper after we were done serving (which didn't take long at all. Maybe 15-20 minutes. Tops). A nice gentleman (Glen) from the church spoke with me about the time in the limelight (my words, but it's the same concept) so to speak. He said that everyone has their time to shine and this was ours. His time was canoeing across Missouri in earlier days. He also told us about his band that he's played in for over 20 years. He is one of two of the original members remaining. He's a pretty neat guy. He also had some words regarding some new additions to the church (a big, expensive project expanding the building and a new, expensive organ). His point about the expenses was that these were gifts to the church from benefactors, but that if the church has been so greatly blessed it makes the church more responsible for using those blessings. I don't want to put words in Glen's mouth, but it was my impression that perhaps he felt the church had unfulfilled potential with all of the resources it now has. If the church had little to no discretion on how to spend the large money gifts I hope they use their new facilities to minister to the community in greater ways than before.

After supper, we drove to the church and had youth group. I gave a short testimony of sorts to the kids and their parents. Most of the teens seemed uninterested (except April), but I don't blame them. I might not have paid much attention when I was their age either. Ah well. Some of the parents expressed interest anyways. The rest of the time was spent covering the youth mission trip to St. Louis.

David drove me and Tom to the grocery store where we bought fruit and gatorade. Tom also got Mike and Ikes. He eats a lot more candy and drinks more pop than me, which, despite all the exercise, I don't think is a good decision. It's his choice and his finances.

On the ride back to Hotel DeVille, David shared a bit about his experience as both a youth pastor and the minister of a church nearby. He is fairly new as the youth pastor and is establishing a foundation of trust and commitment to build the program. He seems to enjoy his work, but does have a full plate between his two jobs. For that reason, it can be difficult to spend precious time with his daughter. It is an interesting balance we must choose in order to provide for our families and have time left to spend with them.

Before going to bed that night, I spoke on the phone with Kathy and had a long conversation in the lobby with one of the deskworkers (who converted to Judiasm to marry her husband). First, Kathy and I figured out what to do for breakfast in the morning. Next, she shared that she wanted me to keep in touch with her. She felt tied in to our journey. She told me that normally, a request like mine (or a request for money) would have been ignored. Her church has limited funds for assisting people that need help and that usually she would have just rejected a phone call like mine asking for help. However, something about my journey really connected with her. She told me about "listening to your gut" and feeling the flow. The words resonated within me and despite their relative informality, I felt she was saying something beautiful. In my mind, it seemed she was describing the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit had moved her to help us despite being something very out of the norm. Indeed, normally, she would not have given us a second thought because of the church's tight budget. Before I hung up, she said, "let God guide you because it can be more fun than you can imagine." And it has been. It has been beautiful, wonderful, and awesome.

There is hardship too. My heart is sometimes heavy, but God has not failed to lift those burdens in time.

My conversation with Ashley, the deskworker, ended in her saying that she respected what I am doing. She does not like judgement and hypocrisy she feels she receives from Christians. What can I say? I think that Christians should be loving and should know and live what they believe (or say they believe). I told her that she and I are God's creation and that God created us to love one another. I think it would be fantastic to seek after the truth with a person like Ashley. She was so open in our conversation and ready to explore for what is real. Unfortunately, I may not see her again and I don't know if she will be engaged in a conversation or situation in which she continues to explore her faith any time soon.

And shortly after that, I decided it would be best to go to bed. Breakfast was at about 7am the next morning.

We rode to Jefferson City, Missouri on Wednesday, June 3, 2009.

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