The motto of our church is:
Live & Love Like Jesus
Throughout the week, our church reaches out to so many hurting parts of our community through feeding the homeless, having a food pantry open to less fortunate families, sorting clothes for those in need, making blankets for people... And one day a year they coordinate Serve Day. A few thousand people come to serve in over 400 projects in our greater community and this was the first year we participated as a family.
My husband and I both agree that we want our kids to grow up knowing how other people live, serving those in need, and having a heart for the poor, widowed and orphaned, like Jesus.
We've been waiting until they were old enough to participate, be somewhat helpful, and understand what we were doing and we felt this was the year!
I was very excited when we were told that our project was to a retirement home where we would love on some elderly folks for the morning, doing a raffle, sharing some baked goods, and hearing their stories.
I was excited because as my children's first service project, I wanted it to be about people and not just a task. I wanted them to see the faces of those they were serving and maybe get a little uncomfortable with what they might see. Yes, it might have been a bit easier to be painting a building all day or pulling weeds, but seeing the faces of people in their sunset years of life, some rarely having visitors, some happy to be there, some not, and taking the time to tell them they are important and valued was a powerful experience.
I had a funny flash back at the retirement home - when I was little, perhaps 5 years old, my mom was in a singing group that would travel to convalescent homes to sing for the elderly. As a little girl, I would tag along. I remember one particular time that I wore a corduroy jumper with little green frogs on it that my mom made and the people in the home all wanted to hold my hand and touch me. They loved to stroke the soft skin of my young hands. Remembering this, I told my children not to be afraid if the people wanted to hold their hands and touch their young skin. It was really sweet to see my children be a little timid and uncomfortable at first, but then warm up to these people who just loved seeing children!
Hearing the stories of their lives was amazing and fascinating. Some of them grew up overseas and somehow ended up in California. Some told stories of being farmers in Minnesota, living their whole life in a tiny town in New York state, graduating from UCLA and running the blood bank... however diverse the stories of their lives, they now shared the same patio and ended up in Southern California
to finish out their lives.
We are all called to live and love like Jesus.
Take the time to let people know that they matter, they are important, they are valued, they are loved.
Sometimes we do this by cleaning up some one's home or yard.
And sometimes we get the privilege to tell them face to face.
Next week I'll have to tell you about Kay and Marie. They really taught me something that day.