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Archive for December, 2005

Thanks for your prayers concerning our Days of Sacrifice. The transit strike began on Tuesday, shutting down ALL public transportation in NYC (buses, trains), and pretty much crippling the city. One of our schools was postponed a day because of this, but it went well. For all three schools that we visited, we had a wonderful time. The parent coordinators, teachers, principals and kids all seemed thrilled with our program. There were even discussions about our future involvement in after school programs and parent workshops.

However. Friday I was reading the New York Post and guess what? We were mentioned. AND the school my team visited on Wednesday was the subject of the article. Apparently one of the stockings we gave out had “Jesus Lights Up My Life” flashlights and coloring books, a HUGE NO NO for the department of education. We were not allowed to do a “religious” program and didn’t. We gave a general “Be thankful for the giver” Christmas program, and every stocking that had religious language on it, we put it aside. We were actually very careful to not do anything “religious.” Unfortunately we did not check the insides of every one of the 30,000 stockings we received and this was really damaging.

The week had gone great, but this was really disappointing. I don’t want to damage our relationships with these local schools or be seen as trying to secretly convert these kids. But, God knew this would happen and I think we have to trust that He take care of our mistakes.

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Wow.

Remember the lady who threatened to beat me up on Tuesday because it was cold outside? Well, she CAME TO CHURCH this morning with her husband and children. SHOCKER! This is the first time they’ve attended our church and I was told they enjoyed it and want to return next week! The husband is always very nice, but the wife refused to talk to me or acknowledge me when I came over to say hello. Interesting.

Still, I’m thankful to God that a few families from my site are now attending church! It’s an answer to prayer, but at the same time I know it’s completely from GOD and NOT me because I didn’t really do anything to make this happen. It’s a great reminder that God is in control and that His Holy Spirit is working.

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The weather was no problem yesterday (thanks for prayers and intercession), except for it being a bit cold. However, it was really difficult for various reasons and it was the kind of day where I found myself thinking, “Forget this! I can go get another job where I’m respected and 33 year old Latina women with eight kids don’t threaten to beat me up because it’s cold outside, like I can control the weather?”

There are things I don’t understand about life in the city. I don’t understand the incredible anger and irrationality of some of the parents, the ungratefulness of many of the kids, and how people like to blame our ministry for every thing that is imperfect in the universe.

My job is difficult. I know it’s not digging ditches or nuclear science, but it can be really, really challenging.

The next two weeks are our “Christmas” weeks. This week it’s Christmas stockings and next week it’s Christmas presents. I realized last night that I need more of God’s power and presence in my life for these next two weeks more than I needed him during the last three months!

Even though yesterday was rough, I’m still smiling with my kids:


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Tuesday is my site day – on Tuesdays we do Sidewalk Sunday School in the community in which I do pastoral care (ie: chillin’ with and building relationships with kids and families). HOWEVER, it’s suppose to SNOW tonight (around 3-4 inches) and tomorrow morning. And while I know it’s not a big deal for New Yorkers, I’m from Alabama and 4 inches of snow is like “SHUT DOWN THE SCHOOLS, BUY OUT ALL THE BREAD AND MILK IN THE STATE, NO ONE GO ANYWHERE FOR DAYS!!!” We will still have Sidewalk, despite the weather, unless the roads prohibit driving, which of course, means my team and I will take the train to Queens and chill with the kids in the snow, but there will be no Christmas stockings to give away. And even though I FORGOT MY FLIERS (ie: basically didn’t tell anyone we were giving away Christmas stockings) on visitation on Friday, a crowd is to be expected.

Please pray, first of all, that God’s will be done, that we’re able to teach the Gospel message of “Receive God’s gift – Jesus” and distribute the Christmas stockings in an orderly and peaceful manner. This week is sort of preparation week for next week, in which we’ll give away 35,000 Christmas gifts, and my co-workers tell me that it can get craaa-zzzy.

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This week I had a dream, or maybe I was just thinking deeply, about the kids from our Saturday Indoor Sunday School, where we pick them up on buses and bring to them to the church. We always greet them with hugs and kisses and laughter and fun. It’s only for a couple of hours a week and sometimes I wonder what difference it makes in their lives. But, I started thinking more about a seven year old boy I know that always come to SS by himself. And it occured to me that maybe the love and attention his receives on our bus is the only love and attention he receives all week. And this is probably true for more than just him. I feel like the Holy Spirit was showing me that not all of them come for the candy and games or to get out of their house. They come for that bus ride, the time when they know they won’t be turned away from a hug or screamed at. It’s like a place of safety and security for them.

Last Saturday on my bus three of the boys, all brothers, were driving me CRAZY! They would not sit still, and while they were not rude and didn’t have an attitude, they just would not listen. I was ready to take away their candy and actually suspend them for a week.

During SS I noticed the boys dancing and singing and jumping on the male staff members. They were so into everything, having the time of their lives. I couldn’t help but smile, even though minutes before they had been frustrating me.

Right before we left SS to drop them home, I talked to E. who visits their homes each week, and she shared that she believes their mom is back on drugs and that she has a new boyfriend and the boys’ behavior probably reflects the chaos at home.

I felt humbled and ashamed at my lack of patience with these kids. Here I was about to tell them they couldn’t come to SS, when really, we are all they have. I had to ask God for forgiveness and more grace to see these kids the way HE wants me to see them.

The boys’ sponsors had bought them backpacks and on the way home they were opening them, totally excited over notebooks paper and pencils, already writing their names on the folders. It was like Christmas for them, even though it was just simple (cheap) backpacks.

When they got off the bus they hugged me and I told them I’d see them next week.

And now, as I think about it, I’m sure God looks at me sometimes like I looked at those kids. Maybe God gets completely frustrated with me because I won’t listen to Him the way I need to listen. God doesn’t give up on me, though. He understands me and understands why I act the way I do, whether it is right or wrong. God gives me grace and abundant patience. These precious boys need grace and abundant patience, just like I do.

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