faithful in silence – a short story

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERABack in the fall, I started praying everyday for Persons of Peace in our neighborhood.  I knew finding people was going to be difficult because I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and spent a lot of my time at home.  One of the families that is part of our Missional Community asked if I could help walk her little boy home from the bus stop, it was right by our home and she knew I was free at 3:45p.  I, of course, said, “Yes.” So, before I walked to the bus stop, I would stop at my back door and ask God to prepare me to talk to people.

The first week there was no one!  All the parents would magically show up in their cars mind you, as the bus pulled up.  I was discouraged.  The next week, some parents walked but they stood across the street and still managed to come right when the bus got to the stop.  I resorted to waving and smiling, this got me some funny looks.  I was giving up on speaking with anyone at the bus stop, so I resorted to bringing treats to the little boy I was walking home and figured we could get to know one another better.

Finally, I walked out of the alley one evening, turned the corner and there was a woman standing right where the bus stop is.  I got all giddy inside, “Woohoo!”  I walked over and asked her if she was waiting on the school bus?  She said, “Yep.”  I said, “Me too!  Hi, I’m Danielle!  I help pick up my friend’s kid.  I live right there in the yellow house; my husband and I just moved in back in January.”  She said “Hi, nice to meet you.  I’m Rebecca.”

After the greetings she asked why we moved down here to the ‘hood’.  I explained that my husband and I felt called to help start a church in the neighborhood.  She asked if we had a brochure she could read, I smiled and told her no, but we do have a website and a blog.  I told her that we have church out of our friend’s house and we live life together just like Jesus did with the disciples.  I invited her to come and see what I was talking about.  She was interested and I was elated to finally talk to someone.  I started to pray for her even before she had  come to our MC.  I knew it was not up to me to push her into coming.  In the following months, I managed to meet her mom, her boyfriend, her sister, and her nieces she helps get off the bus.  Our conversations were small talk most of the time about our baby, her family, her schooling, and I tried to fit God in the conversations but there was never enough time.

At MC one week, the mom that needed my help walking her little boy home said he had transferred schools and the new bus would be dropping him off right in front of her house.  Fall was coming to an end and I was somewhat relieved.  I had been by the bus stop a few times and hadn’t seen Rebecca and the girls.  After a few more months had passed, I started to feel that praying for Rebecca was not doing anything.  I had not seen her in the neighborhood and it was quickly becoming winter; our community does a good job of staying indoors when it is cold.  So I told God, “Okay, I’m done.  I will focus on praying for other things.”  I’m hardly outside since I’m pregnant and I figured this would be a better use of my prayer time.  The next day (seriously, not joking, the next day), my husband and I were stopping over at the house where we have MC.  I stepped out of the car onto the sidewalk and heard someone call out my name.  There was Rebecca and her sister with the girls just a block away.  She greeted me with a hug and asked how the pregnancy was going.  I was shocked; “clearly I’m not done praying for her,” I thought to myself.  We didn’t talk long because it was getting dark and they were walking home in the cold.  We stood there talking long enough for me to introduce my husband and point over to the house and say, “this is where we come for church, you’re all welcome to come Sundays at 4p.”  I spent the rest of the winter praying for her and her family.

I spend a lot of time with Nate and Natalie, the MC leaders.  One day I was over watching their boys while Natalie was working in the morning, I decided to stay all day since my husband and I were going to watch the boys in the evening to give them a date night.  Once we got the boys down for nap, I passed out on their couch.  Natalie later heard a knock at the front door and she started talking to someone and prayed with them.  I was half asleep.  Once she walked into the room, I asked her if she just prayed with the mailman.  She said no, it was Rebecca.  She was feeling like she has been being attacked spiritually and wanted prayer.  Later on in the evening, Rebecca came back to the house; she wanted to pray again.  So Natalie and I prayed for her again and she said she felt something leave her.  She asked to hang around the house and talk, so we did.  We exchanged cell numbers and she left for home.  It was now March and we texted, talked, and hung out with her regularly.  She was becoming part of the family.  This month, she told Natalie and I on separate occasions she felt ready to be baptized.  So, last Sunday we stood in a freezing cold kiddie pool and baptized Rebecca.  Afterwards,  we prayed in groups for one another and celebrated with cake!  All the kids helped in letting the water out of the pool and we played in the huge, muddy puddle together.  It was a wonderful day and I’m so happy I got to be a part of what God is doing!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Danielle - blog signature (black BG)

Advertisements

Happy Easter!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAQuestion of the week, how long would it take a group of kids to pick up nearly 1,500 Easter eggs?  The answer is less than 5 minutes.  This past Sunday we set up at our local park (Roosevelt Park), kids were itching and waiting for us at least an hour ahead of time!  After scattering the eggs, dividing kids into age groups (so the little ones didn’t get trampled by the older kids), we started our prayer and said we would do a count down.  The kids were so excited that right after our “Amen,” they raced towards the eggs.  With chaos, confusion, laughter, and egg shells in the air, in the blink of an eye, the field that was colorful thanks to the eggs was now an empty, green, grassy area again.  The kids showed off what they got, exchanged candies with their friends for their favorites, and played at the playground.  And of course we joined them.  It was great to also talk to some of the adults, learning of new neighbors, and the possibility of new relationships beginning.

It’s amazing to see how God works.  We remember this day as the day Jesus came back to us, three days after taking our death on himself.  Sometimes that escapes me, but I was reminded and filled with the Holy Spirit as we went back to our home afterwards and ate dinner together.  Before eating dinner we broke bread and had Communion.  We have had Communion a lot already, but sitting around the table, all of us discussing what it meant to us or what we have learned from it, it hit me that this is what true family is supposed to do.  Family is sharing communion around the table, sharing dinner, and sharing our stories from the day.  This is what Jesus wanted, sharing our lives together.  It truly excites me for the future, and all the future members of my family that will join us in our mission and in our lives, remembering Jesus and the amazing thing He has done for us all.  Happy Easter.

Dustin - blog signature (black BG)

from rest to work

imagejpeg_0Several months back, we entered a season of rest and pruning as a Missional Community.  It meant a whole lot of abiding, personally and as a family.  We all began reading the Moravian Texts together, found ways to connect with the Father on deeper levels individually, and spent lots of time just being together.  At our retreat at the end of January, we were all sensing the Holy Spirit preparing us to swing back to the other side of the pendulum, to work.  We weren’t sure when and what it would look like, but we were rested and ready.

The second Sunday of each  month, we gather for Family Worship.  As we sat down to begin, we were prompted to change our plans.  It was almost like a direct challenge, “you said you’re ready to work, so let’s get to it!”  Instead of carrying on with our order of worship, we decided to head to the local park to see what the Lord had in mind.  As we walked, we began attracting kids, kids, and more kids.  Some were kids we’ve been in relationship with, but most were brand new.  We ended up starting a pick-up game of touch or tackle (depending on who you were) football with the older boys once we got to the park.  The younger kids got pushed on swings, played chase, and started their own tiny version of football.  One little one asked, “are you family?”  Yes, yes we are.  We’re a family on mission to bring the Kingdom to this neighborhood.

So often, we have to be willing to throw our plans out the window in order to follow God’s plans.  And many times, we have to be willing to begin working in order to see what the work is.

Natalie - blog signature (black BG)

Worship His Majesty

This is just a glimpse into one of our Family Worship MC’s.  Most weeks, we begin by sharing what we have seen God doing lately and respond with a simple phrase.  It turns out to be a neat poem/Psalm to give God thanksgiving and praise.

He’s changing peoples’ lives; His majestic name fills the earth!

He helps me never give up on things; His majestic name fills the earth!

He gave mommy and daddy a new clock and they gave it to me; His majestic name fills the earth!

God is helping some of our friends find a house to purchase; His majestic name fills the earth!

God helped me get a new toy car when I gave all my money away; His majestic name fills the earth!

He gave us a warmer weekend so we could enjoy the outdoors; His majestic name fills the earth!

He gives us friends; His majestic name fills the earth!

He gave me and my family a peaceful and united day yesterday; His majestic name fills the earth!

He took away my bad dream so I could go back to sleep; His majestic name fills the earth!

Natalie - blog signature (black BG)

Best Christmas Ever

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

December is one of the busiest months of the year.  Everyone is running about, getting ready with decorating their homes, baking cookies, shopping, and spending time with loved ones.  And Soma is no different.  So let’s go through a recap of what is known as the most wonderful time of the year!

During our Family Worship, we had the Yates’ parents visit and we sang Christmas Carols; of course everyone was excited to sing!  With a guitar playing from one of our special guests, we sang some of our favorite Christmas songs.  We ended with a ‘play’ (readers theater) of sorts about the birth of Christ, only with some great humor, but the best part was one of the younger kids from the neighborhood wanted to be the narrator.  He struggled, but with a little help, he did most of the narration  and was determined to be a part of this fun activity.

And much like last year, we went out and passed out Christmas Cookies to the neighborhood (more traditions)!  Each family baked a few dozen, and right before we went out, we gathered around the table to stuff the bags.  We had our own kids and kids from the neighborhood help stuff these bags and we were off, splitting into two groups.

One of the best feelings was seeing a group of people I have seen and had a few conversations with, they always know us when they see us doing something good.  They assumed we were caroling, which gave most of us a good laugh, but one kid was all but ready to sing, attempting to prepare everyone to sing (although when he signaled people to start, he never mentioned a song for us).  He might have given us an idea for future years.

On our way back, as we passed the same group as before, one lady hurried to her home and turned on her Christmas decorations, which included at least half a dozen Christmas inflatables.  Half the group hung out there and watched them all come alive and watched the woman, excited to have people admire her decorations.

‘Twas the Night before the night before Christmas and we got together for dinner, a White Elephant Christmas Exchange, and Christmas Eve Eve Service with Cross City.  The dinner, as always, was so delicious (we do love our food), and the White Elephant was as fun as last year (you know, tradition).  It started off slow, very few steals, but as the last few presents were sitting there, we all went crazy.  Board Games passed around like crazy, digital clocks every which way, and a Mason Jar with a fake butter fly that flutters around when you tap it was in many different hands.  In the end, we all were laughing, got a new item to play with, and we were off to our cars.

At the Christmas Eve Eve service, you could tell everyone was excited, candles everywhere (which attracts small kids quite nicely, I might add) and a makeshift living room for story time with the kids during the service.  With good scripture and great songs, we ended our night, hugging and wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

Oh, but we’re Soma, and the year’s not over yet!  In our last 2012 hurrah, we went to the ultimate family restaurant, Buca di Beppo!  We all ate far too much, but who cares.  We all were able to come together, rest, and enjoy amazing food.  The kids acted great, and one, to his parents’ pleasant surprise, inhaled calamari and muscles.  Everyone was able order something and share, a real family feel, and we also discussed our next family get together.

December is a busy month; so often we forget the true meaning of the holiday and even forget what is important to us, but thanks to this family we are a part of, we are constantly reminded of those things, making this one of the best Christmases yet.

Dustin - blog signature (black BG)

mormons, PO-lice, and hot chocolate

“Are y’all Mormons?”
“Nope, we are just handing out hot chocolate because we love our neighborhood”
“Well, whenever there is a group of white people, it’s usually Mormons or the PO-lice”

Just one of the conversations we had while handing out hot chocolate!

This past Sunday, we headed out in two groups with eight gallons of delicious, homemade hot chocolate and a couple bags of marshmallows between us. We split up in different directions and set to work setting up the stands. As usual, the kids out-numbered the adults, but we worked together and got ready to start passing out the yummy drinks. People weren’t lining up, but we were all so encouraged by the people God did send our way; the kids loved giving the hot chocolate, and everyone who stopped received it openly. One kind lady, in particular, was very excited.  She saw us from across the street, dropped her broom, and headed over. When she asked why we were giving out free hot chocolate (Yes, it’s free, and no we don’t want money!), we answered simply with, “We just want to show that we love our neighborhood.” After about thirty minutes of everyone singing (sometimes screaming), “Free hot chocolate” and getting a most excellent sugar rush, we all headed back indoors for pizza and conversation. All in all, it was a heart warming experience to serve and watch the kids as they were serving.

reverse take 2!

Halloween Night, a night where most kids go out door to door, dressed up, yelling “trick or treat” to get some free candy, but we’re Soma, so we do things a bit differently.  This year, just like last (I feel a tradition starting), we did Reverse Trick or Treating in the rain and cold weather (of course, most of us love cold weather as opposed to warm, so this worked out well for us).

For those of you who have no idea what that entails: we took tons of candy, put them in little bags, and we went out door to door to GIVE these bags to the people in our neighborhood. 

It was nice to see all the kids dressed up and excited to give these bags of candy away.  Instead of traditional trick or treating where the kids are focused on getting candy, our kids all hovered around the doors, hoping they were the ones to give the candy at that house.

We had a few people who remembered us from last year, others who remembered us from other events we’ve done in the neighborhood and, of course, new faces, which for me was the most exciting part. 

One man opened his door, ready to give out candy, but when we stopped him and explained what we were doing, I saw a light in his eye.  The light was mostly confusion, as if it was crazy to do this in our neighborhood (well it probably is, but it’s never stopped us before, and won’t stop us in the future), but also a little light of hope for the area.  He happily accepted our bag of candy, wished us a wonderful and safe night, and we were off to the next house; and I felt energized.

We stuffed 180 bags of candy and came home with only three.  It was a good feeling knowing we were able to see people, show them we’re in the neighborhood, and show them we care about them.  These are the times I see the path we’ve taken as a family, and that I have taken personally,  is the path we are meant to be on.