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Friday, August 27, 2010

Sibling Challenge=So Much More!

A good friend of mine is always encouraging our kids to "Get out of your comfort zone." It's become his mantra. In fact he is the one who organized the first mission trip to Mexico my oldest Son went on when he was 15. My son came back a changed person and he remains changed to this day. His passion is missions and helping the less fortunate. He is the Volunteer Coordinator at a homeless shelter in Oklahoma City. The eyes he sees his world through are completely different than the eyes of those who have not gotten an up close and personal look at poverty and need.

My Daughter just recently returned to San Diego from being deployed in the Persian Gulf. Since she has been in the military she has learned that even though she can maintain a friendship, most of them have to be long distance. It seems that just about the time she is able to develop a close network of friends, they end up being moved to different states and she has to start from scratch all over again. It's difficult to be far away from all of your family and friends. The other day she was talking to her brother who simply can't imagine what not having a network of close friends would be like. He has been fortunate that most of his high school buddies live in the same City as him, if not in the same house as him. He has lived in the City long enough to have developed lots of friends outside his main circle. As he has gone through different life transitions it's made him more aware of how blessed he is to have his support system and how difficult it must be for his Sister to be so alone and so far away. While they were speaking on the phone he asked her if she would do him just one favor.... That's all he wanted was for her to do this one thing. He told her if it didn't work out then she didn't have to do it again but he wanted her to try it just once. He told her to contact a shelter there in San Diego or an organization and volunteer just one evening helping the homeless. Just for the record.... That is way out of her comfort zone, but because he insisted she agreed to the challenge. I spoke on the phone with her yesterday and she was very nervous and uncomfortable about going.

First thing this morning  I got a phone call. When I heard her special ring-tone sound, I immediately picked up the phone and cut right to the chase... "So, how'd it go?" She kind of laughed, and said that it had gone "really well." She had contacted The Rock Church there in San Diego and signed up for their Thursday night small group that goes out and takes stuff to people on the street. This church has been such a blessing to her over the last couple of years. It is a church that is totally plugged into the community in several tangible ways. So she met the leader of the group downtown last night. They were armed with tooth brushes, juice, water and other things that most people take for granted. They began the process of going up to those who were just settling down for the evening, under the stars. Many of them had their pets by their side... Their only companion. As she went around talking to the different people she was struck by several things she didn't expect to find. Many of the homeless were there by choice. They had chosen to live on the streets and "They seem totally content" she said in amazement. Another thing that surprised her was the conversations she had.... "Mom, most of their speech was so eloquent and intelligent." A lot of people, myself included imagine all homeless people to be drunkards or mentally challenged, this just simply isn't the case. One lady she spoke to had a masters degree and had chosen to live on the street to help save money for her sister's medical care. Isn't that an awesome, sacrificial act of love, or what?!! This lady was articulate, educated and politically savvy, yet she had chosen a different lifestyle than others who had her educational background. My daughter was also amazed that these people who basically had nothing, asked for very little and were so grateful for anything. She said when she would ask some of them if they needed anything, they would simply reply... "No, we're good." She said... "What they really seemed to want most of all was someone to talk to."

She walked away from downtown San Diego last night with a new perspective and a new understanding of the homeless. "I felt like I had been the one who was bless." she said. It's true that we are blessed, so that we may be a blessing to others. I think most of us are guilty(I know I am) of saying we'll pray for those less fortunate, or we will give money to help those less fortunate, but we very seldom want to reach out to those less fortunate in a tangible way that will bring us face to face with them.... It might make us uncomfortable. I wonder if those who won't "Get out of their comfort zone", aren't the ones who should carry the title of less fortunate. After all, when was the last time that you've said.... "No, I'm good." I know I haven't said it nearly as often as I should. Looking back, she said she would definately be doing this again, as well as looking into other ministries that would enable her to give back. It makes me happy to see my kids not only reaching out to help others, but to also challenge each other to be more.... So much more.

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