It is early and I feel the sun warming me through a small opening in the drapes. I dig myself deeper into my bedding, in hopes that the morning will not come so soon. I grasp for the stillness of this moment because I am sure the sky will once again give way to the sun and it’s over powering strength. It won’t be long before the world around me wakes and this moment will quickly be gone. The sun high above exposes the sky and it reaches towards me allowing me a ray of guilt for all those that don’t wake to the comfort of a home.
Just last night I slept outside, on the ground, covered in the night’s debris. This morning I lay here in comfort, struggling to process my three day adventure. This is the third time I have taken part in Mission Waco Mission World Poverty Simulation. It was probably designed to experience once but apparently I am a slow learner and God still has much to teach me. I had the pleasure of assembling what I call Waco Team #3 for this journey. It was made up of two pastors, two community leaders, and two Cal Farley employees.
We met at 8:30 Friday morning in search of a life changing adventure. I know, I know it doesn’t make sense and you are probably thinking, what could these pastors and community leaders possibly learn? What does being homeless for a couple of days, teach you? After all they are already givers and people in the business of serving others. Yes your right, but we are all human and sometimes we forget it’s about people and not programs. We all get caught up with the day to day responsibilities and we get bogged down with life. This journey always allows a way to be emptied and also the opportunity to be filled. It’s hard to put into words, what this experience is like but I will tell you that it is impossible to go through this and not be reminded how to love all people exactly where they are, including yourself.
The first morning we are woken by sprinkles of gentle rain the sky decides to share. I struggle with discomfort from the hard ground and find myself struggling to stand. I head towards the outhouse and moments later I find myself standing by the shopping cart where the water hose is housed. It’s a familiar place and I am not fond of the memories it holds. I am the only one that knows what is ahead of us today and I quickly begin to dread the day before us. At the end of the day we are the only group that could not find food. We are the only ones unworthy of help. We are the only ones that wander around with empty bellies. I am not where I can tell the rest of this story but maybe soon.
Earlier this week, before I left for Waco I gathered food to take to families in need. One day after work I head to a local hotel, where a family of four is staying. I call to let them know I am near and she tells me the room number they are in. I don’t even have to look for the room number because as I turn in the parking lot I notice two small children sitting outside playing on the sidewalk. Everything inside me says this is not OK. It is not ok for this 2 year old and this 5 year old not to have food or a place to call their own. It is not ok that a parking lot is their playground. I am not ok with giving them only what they can cook in a microwave. My heart hurts and I leave wondering if I have done enough. I leave wondering if they have felt my love.
I head to my second stop and it is an elderly couple raising their granddaughter. Grandma has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks and the house is bare. I am thinking this is not Ok. The little girl is happy for pop tarts and cereal even if she has to eat them without milk. Again I’m thinking this is not OK.
That day I was reminded why I will head to Waco and endure another three day weekend. A weekend where people just like me will make me feel unworthy. A weekend where I will struggle with water and food, even with so many people like me all around me. All capable of helping but something holds their hands. I will be given new unwanted labels and I will struggle with not being able to help those I have brought with me. Oh but don’t despair for I am certain that Sundays on its way!
On Sunday we walk a distance to make it to Church Under the Bridge and the moment I step on the curb I am engulfed by the presence of God. Love is abounding and so thick you can fill a jar with it. There is people everywhere. I barely make it to my seat when I notice that my emptiness’s is gone and I am now filled. I stand unaware of those around me and I am grateful for the tears that cleanse my face. I am filled with this precious powerful love. I belong and I am worthy. We all leave with healing from the burdens we have been carrying. We walk back to our meeting place with a much lighter load.
Today my husband calls me outside with great excitement. He has been watching a family of birds for a few days and today they are out and about. He wants to share this beauty with me so I follow him around and together we watch these beautiful creatures. Then he turns to me with such tenderness and says “They are so cute and I just love them so much” and it hits me like a ton of bricks. My heavenly Father says the same about me and since He is not a respecter of persons He says the same about you too.
Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?