Not all CarePortal stories are the same.
When you visit with a CarePortal family, you're supposed to go in groups of 2 or more. There's transparency, safety, and accountability that way. So when I was asked to pop along on this delivery, I was happy to be Ray's second. However, in this case, he needed me to take point, because the mama only speaks Spanish and has only been in the country for some odd weeks.
In case you were curious, my high skills have me speaking Spanish on the level of a 4 year old. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school, 2 years in college, and then took a follow up course for teachers when I entered into the career world. I then adopted 2 littles from Guatemala and it was very apparent that the people whom I could hold my own were only 4. After that, I was totally lost.
But with naive bravery, I accepted this challenge.
The request was for a twin bed and bedding for the eldest little girl.
I quickly found that it was the third bed to squish into one room. One room that costs $750/month. The mama has 2 sisters and a niece, as well as some other tenants -- all renting spaces in a small home, that feels about half the size of my own.
I asked about food. She said they have a little.
So the next day I brought groceries. An abundance of groceries. The kind of groceries that I get for my family with 2 adults, 3 teens, and a little. Where should we put these? Oh. In the floor of your room? In the little bit of standing space you have because you have 3 beds in one room? Yes. Okay.
Why do I not take this all to the kitchen?
She explains. Everyone gets a tiny bit of space in the kitchen and in the fridge -- it's the rules of the house. She'll go fit what she can there. The rest she will keep in her room.
So. Since we had one in storage, I brought her a mini-fridge with a microwave on top. They didn't have a microwave at all in this home. I'm aware that microwaves are not necessities but I'm still processing $750/month for one room and no microwave). You'll not be shocked to find she put the little hotel combo fridge set in her one room in the space that remained.
She has two daughters who she believes are likely both deaf. They are adorable and delightful, so on first glance you wouldn't imagine any struggle. My daughter looks forward to every visit where they point at things and giggle and dance around without language. But my mama heart is spinning, trying to think of resources, trying to think how to help.
And my silliness and awkwardness meant that I made sure the girls had costumes and candy buckets and knew where the nearest Trunk or Treat was, my friend Jon's church a few blocks away. I made sure they had the address and could walk there to participate in their first Halloween -- a place safe, where no one will be cruel to them because they are Hispanic, because they are vulnerable.
They can't live here forever. It's the kind of set up that only works in the short term before it breaks a person. This cramped-ness, this struggle, this level of challenge. And my heart wants to pack them up in our van, as if our van had a gazillion seats, and bring them home to live with me, as if I had an extra bedroom, or as if I, on my own, can fix this for them.
But I know 2 things as sure as I know anything:
1. God is sovereign, working in ways I cannot see. I can trust this. I will ask for this.
2. I am not able to wash my hands of this family. My heart won't allow it and the Bible compels me forward.
It's humbling. It's daunting. But it's wrought with all the complexity of what love is.
So, pray for this little family won't you? Pray for their safety, for their tired spirits, for paths to help them become a stable and blossoming family-- so that these little girls who giggle and dance will have the brightest future they can -- so that all of them will feel deep in their bones the love of Jesus who chases after them.
This last weekend we had our fall soup party. It was a small gathering of about 35 people, but it was a fun time to be together. We are so grateful for the many people who donate goods or finances for our CarePortal program, or who have been active sponsors in our Guatemala program, or who are part of the Circle of Support in our Safe Families program, etc. We have so many people who have been a significant part of helping us make a difference in the Roanoke Valley. And we wanted to say Thank you!
So many people couldn't make it. Weekends are hard. Fall is hard. UGH! But we are hoping to do more things to bring all of the people in our community together and have a good time. We couldn't do this without you. You make such a difference whether you're donating a mattress or helping us deliver a crib or helping us shop for diapers or whether you travel with us to another country. It all matters and we just wanted you to know, we're grateful.
I love this quote.
I didn't when I first read it. When I first read it, I pounced on it like an internet troll. Does this mean that God is passive, that prayer doesn't work, that what changes in the world is only through my own hands? Pish Posh, I thought. Because sometimes I'm a bit arrogant, and sometimes I'm unteachable.
But there was something about this quote that I kept staring at. Some Truth that was there that I could feel but not see. So I mulled on it.
Here is what I know. I know that I have seen God -- not humans -- do amazing things. Once, God had a judge dream dreams that burdened her heart to release an orphan girl to us to be adopted. People didn't do that. People can't make others dream dreams that stir their heart. But here's what else I know. I know that the more I pray, the more my heart aligns with the heart of God. You can see this evident in scriptures. The Psalms are full of the lamentations, the whining and groaning of David who cries out in his suffering for vengeance and justice, only to conclude in praise, remembering that God is sovereign and one day the world will be remade in beauty and justice. When we pray, we begin to see the world the way God does. It's kind of beautiful.
(Ironically, it's kind of annoying when you want to tell God about how your spouse is bothersome, only to be reminded of grace, of your own failings, of the compassion you've received. Come on, God. I wanted to be irritated).
And then I think about the times I've felt God's presence. I've felt it when I was alone. But you know what? I've also felt it when person after person brought me a meal when my littlest daughter was born. Or when we were trying to adopt our daughter from Kyrgyzstan and some dear friends brought us a giant jar of cash and coins that they were using to save for a vacation, but felt they should give it to us for our adoption. Or when we get this surprise check in the mail when our next adoption payment is due from someone who gave such abundance from their generous heart. One time I needed help moving a piece of furniture and my two neighbors came over and did it all. That's when I felt Jesus' love pouring out on me.
And then this quote came alive for me. The truth of it sparkled and broke through the walls of my heart with brilliance, light and clarity.
It's in the hands of people that I feel the hands of Jesus.
And if you look around, the people who hurt the most, are profoundly alone.
In the city, there are so many people who are alone. -- People who moved out from a dysfunctional family, or aged out of foster care, or left an abusive spouse, or walked away from drugs and addiction, or ran from their home country, or were kicked out of their family, or or or.
When I pray, God molds my heart to his. I go and do because that's what being the hands and feet of Jesus means.
I'm to visit the prisoner. I'm to feed the hungry. I'm to sit with the lonely. I'm to welcome the stranger. I'm to love the fatherless. I'm to take care of the widow. And when I do these things, I'm loving on Jesus. So says the Bible.
We're inching towards #GivingTuesday, and we do have some financial goals to help us grow and stretch to serve more children, more families. But it might be easy to think we don't actually need you. But maybe in the praying, you might find God molding your heart like his. You might find you're ready to go wherever he leads.
"You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That's how prayer works." -- Pope Francis
Here are some things we're praying for at 127 Place:
* We have people in need. We have people donating goods to help. But we need people to help us get the items and take them to the families and children.
* We have financial resources coming in to meet many needs. But we long for a bookkeeper that can help us demonstrate our finances to the government and donors to show the transparency and trustworthy way we honor these donations.
* We have people who are committing to being Safe Families and Circles of Support, but we need someone to help them administer and gather the paperwork that vets them.
Ray Moore is the executive director of 127 Place and the local program director for both CarePortal and Safe Families. Kelli Moore is the board Chair for 127 Place and the Kyrgyzstan Director.