It has taken me a while to process things from last week. A LOT happened. We got back from a week of luxury and fun in Hawaii and the day after we got back, we put on a feast for the homeless. Andy then went back to teaching and wrestling, we celebrated Avery-man's #5 birthday (yay!) and here we are. Whew!
So, I wanted to share my thoughts on the banquet ( you can look at the pictures to the right of this post). It's one of those moments you can't really put into words but I'll try.
We were able to invite 32 men and women from off the street of Portland and from the rest stop in Wilsonville to a friends' house in Aurora. She and her husband had felt the Lord nudging them to open their house for this banquet (and may they be richly blessed for it!).
We had about 30 volunteers from all different places, even some who I had never met, come to serve. It was a beautiful gathering of people who love God and want to serve Him. My emotions were on my sleeve that day as I just saw the Holy Spirit moving powerfully amongst His followers in that house. The hands and feet of Jesus, plain as day.
There was much preparing before our guests arrived but also much laughing, crying, and fellowshipping as we anticipated the climax of this event. The joy of the Lord was very present and there was no strife as we did His work.
The first group of guests came from the rest stop right in Wilsonville. Curt, Delores, and Toby were just a few of those that I was able to sit and talk with. So many stories......
They were able to sit, eat, and relax comfortably as we waited for the next group from Portland to arrive. A couple of them were able to start showers and nestle in to a good, comfy spot on the couch to watch football.
Its easy to get to know these people. They are ready to talk and more open and honest than the average American. In most cases, they have gone through some very hard times, have lived in some very rough conditions, and have experienced some seriously humiliating and painful moments. A lot of them live with shame, guilt, loneliness, sadness, addictions, and heartache from rejection after rejection. They have experienced the bottom of the pit, so to share their heart is no big deal to most of them. So when someone sits next to them and gives them a smile and an ear, they gush. It might be a little messy, stinky, and actually it might not make any sense at all, but the fact that they got to release a little of that to a safe place is healing for them, and for me. It always comes back to the fact that Jesus lives in me and is loving these people through me, so if I can take a step back and relax about the dirt, He can work.
Jesus continues to refine me in these moments, showing me that He loves me equally as much as He loves those who live on the streets.
After everyone filled their tummies with ham, chicken soup, meatballs, rolls, potato salad, dessert, coffee, etc., they had an opportunity to shower, get a haircut, go down to the garage (which was nicely organized with new clothing, backpacks, supplies, sleeping bags, jackets, hats, gloves, etc.) to pick out whatever they wanted, and to relax on the couch. They were all taken back to the streets at 5:00pm with clean bodies, full tummies, new supplies, and most importantly more Hope in their hearts. I have no idea what they are all doing at this moment or how much they were impacted, all I know is that I did what Jesus called us to do. I feel more full of Him and I'm starting to understand more. He laid it out pretty simply to us in the New Testament, but we've made it way too complex. When we start walking in the simple, yet narrow, path He clears our vision and gives us more purpose than we could ever imagine. We are all chosen by God, but which path are we choosing? To understand you are chosen you must first choose the path. It is a path of faith. So the next time you get a crazy thought in your head to buy a jug of milk for some random person, do it, He'll show up. Life with Jesus is exciting and full. Come, He is beckoning His church out of the boat.