Before coming to Houston I had tried to track down what my mailing address would be with no success. My brother Robert teased me, saying that our directors were going to make us experience homelessness firsthand. He was more right than he though, although that wasn't the way it was supposed to be (but since when do our plans work out anyway? "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." ~ Proverbs 16:9). So our first two nights were spent in a small apartment above the pastor's garage. It was awesome bonding time, with all the girls staying in a small bedroom with only 2 beds and the guys sleeping in the living room.
2 days later we were off to Atlanta for training. It was there that I discovered that everyone who signs up for Mission Year is insane. For real. Seriously, giving up the comforts of family, friends, money, and familiarity to live on an extremely small budget with a team of other insane people (8 others, in my case) in order to form relationships and community with homeless people, broken families, poor families, people affected by racism, abuse and other forms of injustice. Who would do that? Jesus would do that. And He is the center of our faith, He is our example, and He is our comfort, the One to whom we cling when everything else is stripped away. It isn't easy, but it's worth it. Comfort has become uncomfortable in light of the injustice and need that so many others face.
I have so many things I could write, so many thoughts and stories swimming around in my head. I'll share just 2 of them with you now. Both stories are from Sunday afternoons when our team helps out with a ministry to the homeless called "Simple Feast". A group from Ecclesia church here in Houston takes a meal to a park where a lot of homeless people go and we serve it to them and eat with them, talking to them and learning their stories.
The first time we did Simple Feast we met a family with four children. The youngest boy was full of energy and was doing all sorts of cartwheels and handstands. After a while he sat down next to me and I said that he must be tired. He looked at me and replied, "No, I'm just resting for a while and then I'll get right back up. Because I never give up, whatever I do, I never give up." I was so impressed with his perseverence.
Yesterday we helped out again. One man we met only spoke Spanish, but communicated his story to us with the help of translation by Katy, one of our team members. He told us how he came to faith and then sang worship songs for us in Spanish. Right before we left he prayed for us. I have no idea what he said, but it definitely left an impression on me. We were there to help them, but he blessed us so incredibly. God is present in surprising and beautiful places.
Our team is made up of 9 people. 5 guys (David, Isaac, Sean, Steven, and Stu) and 4 girls (Andy, Bonnie, Katy, and me). It is a huge blessing for me to have Katy on this team. Katy is also an MK. She grew up in Mexico and was working in Paris last year. The craziest thing is that her brother, Peter, graduated with me from Black Forest Academy! That connection was a confirmation from God that this is where I'm supposed to be and that God is watching out for me. :)