As some of you know, Josiah and I are not going to Mexico.
We are still going to give up our Spring Break to do Missions. We are still going to sleep on the ground and go without showers for too long. We are still going to serve, and pray, and love on broken people who are in desperate situations.
This is God’s trip, and He has been faithful to direct and guide. The decision not to go was made by our church elders and I both understand and respect it. There was a murder in the town we were headed to, and crossing the Mexican border is always chancy. Besides the violence, there were other “red flags” that seemed that perhaps God was leading our team away from “what we’ve always done” to do something different.
The safest place to be is in the center of His will, and the decison not to go wasn’t made out of FEAR but out of this genuine desire…the prayers I heard over and over were “Lord, we just want to be in Your will. Show us what You want. We’ll go wherever!” and God answered by making sure the “Yes, go here!” was nice and clear:
We are going to San Francisco. We’ll be working with City Impact 911, a rescue mission in the Tenderloin district. Here is their website:
There is an inner city school full of needy children to love on. Soup kitchen to serve meals at. Opportunities to hand out blankets and food and prayers to the homeless on the streets at night. and much more.
I signed up for this trip because I loved Mexico when John and I went on our anniversary trip there, last yea. The crushing poverty I saw weighed heavy on me, for I knew we were seeing only the tip of that iceberg in the touristy, cleaned-up areas we vacationed at.
plus I have always loved Missions.
plus and also, I heard they needed more adult females on the team.
and oh yeah-my main motivation–my oldest child was going!
I commited to be a team leader to all the students before being a Mom to Josiah, (and I think that is good for him, too.) and the more I get to know them, the more I have come to love these high school kids–they who are willing to give up a week of vacation to get dirty for God, who want to see Him move and be a part of His story. So the trip is all about THEM, and the seeds of servanthood planted deep in their hearts…but…
it also feels like a personal gift from God, to me.
Remember this? The last time I was in San Francisco was in October of 2009, and it was to line up here:
and run the Nike Womens Half-Marathon with Team in Training:
and it was wonderful. and hard.
We met in the hotel lobby on Saturday morning, and headed out as a team for an easy run, just 1 or 2 miles. The race was the next day, so this was just a little jog around downtown SF to keep our leg muscles aware of what was soon to come. Everyone was all giggly and excited and so was I-until we headed out the door and started down the sidewalks. We ran past silent office buildings and store windows full of Prada and Gucci. It was 5 in the morning and there weren’t any pedestrians or traffic and the only noise was from garbage trucks and pigeons and it was so different from the bustling activity of the afternoon before that I was amazed. It wasn’t long until I noticed something else. Wrapped in cardboard, under alcoves and on almost every bench, was a person.
I was stunned.
because everyone kept laughing and running…was I the only one who saw them? and I kept running too. I didn’t want to get lost and I didn’t know what to do, anyway. I felt ignorant and impotent. what could I do, wake someone up and offer him my pink, $135 shoes? When we had to run around human feces on the sidewalk, there was a murmur of complaint. I got back to our hotel room and greeted poor, sleepimg John with a torrent of tears.
This was ridiculous! Why was I here? The day before, I was happily a part of the thousands of women celebrating our up-coming achievement by shopping at the Nike Store, and buying souveniers. The guilt and conviction I felt was palpable. All this time and money and energy to do what: run up and down the streets?! Did that really matter, when people–created in the very image of God people–were sleeping in the streets and ignored–even run right past by us, the healthy and wealthy, as if they were merely a part of the faceless building they slept up against?
you can ask John and he will tell you how I was I wreck. How he held my arm all day and put up his palm and said over and over again his firm “No, thank you.” as we walked around the Wharf. John joked that I was all gush inside and an easy mark and he’s right…I think my countenance must have communicated to every needy person there: “Come and get it!” If it hadn’t been for John’s protection I would have been out of food, clothes and money in about 12 minutes.
The dark cloud hanging over me was starting to ruin everything. John and God and I talked about it, and I came to see that it was okay that I was there. It was a miracle of a different sort, my running that 13.1 miles. God reminded of all the things He had taught me through the running-about Himself, about perseverance, about faith. and I had raised a lot of money to fight cancer. I was doing something really hard, and relying on God to finish the job. This was a good thing, too and I could set the other things aside for now, and focus on this moment. and so I did.
And I ran the race.
and the next day, before we left for the airport, another hairy, dirty man came up and asked us, again, for money. His sleeping bag had been stolen and he was hungry. John started to put up his hand but I shot him one of my looks that says “oh please? let me have this one?” and because he knows my heart (and it helped that we were about to leave so I couldn’t give everything away!) John relented, because more than anything–he loves me.
Then I got to invite my new friend to a restaurant across the street, and asked him his name and delighted in his happiness. I told him God loved him and John bought him a big meal, and then my (wonderful) husband voluntarily gave him all the change, and grinned at me and shrugged his shoulders. And as we walked out of the restaurant, I was so happy I was bouncing and John looked down at me and grinned “Feel better?!” he asked.
I declared that it felt as good as crossing the finish line!
Nike and San Francisco put together an amazing race for women. There were SF firemen in tuxes at the finish line with a Tiffanys necklace. There were pedicures, clothing, chocolates, pampering and gifts galore both before and after the race. There was lots of praise and kudos the day after the race, and enthusiastic female runners stating “I’ll be back every year!” and I was silent.
I looked out the window and thought:
“Lord, if I ever come back here, let it be for something bigger than running.”
and we leave this Sunday.