The Oasis of Hope Easter egg hunt blog post below was originally an email that I wrote in April and copied to the blog but didn’t feel it was time to publish.
Today I was reminded of it and reinspired. (apparently that is not a word…but you can get inspired more than once, right ??) The first paragraph below may not be 100% accurate but it is my recollection/impression from Hope church this morning.
“Do you know the players’ names?” was a question asked of Coach Bill Courtney by his 8 year old son. Bill Courtney, was coaching the Manassas High School football team (subject of the award winning documentary, Undefeated). At the time, he was enjoying the recognition for his investment in this under-resourced city public school football team. The realization that he did not know all their names took him aback and made him reflect on his heart and motivation in serving.
I, too, have struggled and questioned my motivation. I have taken baby steps into serving in the under resourced area of Memphis through the Oasis of Hope ministry. I had to admit that I had some fears. And I doubted what I had to give besides money. And I was comfortable in my suburban comfort zone. The first lesson that God taught me in this area was that He could use my gifts for His glory. And he has plans…
And guess what, the memory verse bulletin insert is today:
I love to take photos and share them… I have been doing this almost all my life …. long before the ease of social media. And I didn’t realize that God had plans to use this passion of mine in so many different ways. Mary Ann Ruff asked me to be a part of the Legacy team for Hope Women’s Ministry in 2008. I have loved doing it even when I felt inadequate. I missed it when I moved and started to volunteer for and create photo legacy opportunities at our church in Virginia. Then we moved back to Memphis. I reevaluated what I said yes to and tried to listen for the Holy Spirit to guide me. And for it not to be about my own pride. (In fact, in writing a blog, I pray that what I share is for His purposes and not my own ego). I continued with the Legacy team and I continued to look for new opportunities to serve.
When I was invited to go on a Women’s Ministry Leadership Urban Plunge, I first went to the website to find out more specifics on this long weekend in the inner city. Most importantly, would I have to do manual labor that I was not equipped to do. I was searching for photos of prior plunges and I only found a few photos… mostly showing yard work type activities. Not this allergy-girl’s idea of serving. But I was assured that our service project would be geared towards our gifts. And that the plunge was more about opening our eyes towards areas of service and ways to build relationships. So I plunged. And it was eye opening. I took and posted photos all 4 days. And found ways to continue to build relationships by taking photos at several events in that next year. Slowly I was learning the names of the people in the photos. One of the young ladies that I met through the Angel Street Choir ministry became my Facebook friend and later that year I became friends with her mother, Jackie, as well.
Now, I know, … Facebook friends are not necessarily “friends” but it is a way to get to know each other. You certainly learn their name … And share photos!! (which I tease is my “love language”). I have had the privilege to see this talented young lady, Terrian, use her gifts to connect to others. My daughter has been blessed with her worship time in Hope Student Ministries. The whole congregation has experienced her beautiful voice during our Sunday services. Today she sang a beautiful duet with her mentor, Jill, that paid tribute to their relationship. It touched my heart and made me have the feel-good emotion of a happy-ending Disney movie anthem. But I know it is real. I long to be real. To be authentic. And it is easier when we are surrounded by people that share out lifestyle and beliefs.
Coach Bill Courtney made a point about being real. He challenged us to step out of our vacuum. He also told a story about going to the shrimp boat docks to get fresh shrimp and how it was a wonderful reward that made the stink of the docks worth dealing with. And he reflected on the fact the Jesus hung out with the stinky fisherman when he was on earth.
I completely forgot that a stinky environment with a reward was the ending of the Easter egg hunt story…
Alrighty then… like most of my blog posts, I share more than I planned and then I abruptly end. So here is the post that I was reminded of:
Oh wait… one more note: The verse in the bulletin today also pointed me back to the beauty of that day… that snowy Easter egg hunting day:
The involvement has really been a blessing to me. And today it was a blessing to my daughter as well. I watched Katie use her gifts for His glory. My job was to take photos of the event. Katie’s job was to hide eggs. But her gift is connecting with little ones and God had a plan to use her gift. She saw some little boys that were at the Easter Egg hunt with their 10 year old cousin. She pushed them on the swings. When the snow started coming down harder she asked the boy with his coat on his head if he wanted her to help him put it on. He did. (I was taking pics and got to be a fly in the park) Then the other guy hopped off his swing, with a big smile said “would you tie my shoes?” She said of course with a smile. As she knelt down and tied his shoes, I had a picture of Jesus washing the disciples feet, pop into my head. A simple, humble act that meant so much more than a routine act. I believe the little boy felt God’s love through this kindness.
After the swinging and egg hunting, it was time to clean up. Most of the kids went into the gym but these 3 kids followed Katie and helped Terry, the Oasis of Hope director, pick up the empty eggs and the decorations. Then the boys asked their cousin a question (I didn’t hear it) but her answer was “Let’s just go where Katie goes”. So they all went in the gym and Katie held the boys shoes and coats and grocery bags full of eggs as they hopped in the bounce house (being manned by a Hope Mom’s of teens friend and her son). The 10 year old looked at Katie and smiled. Katie said, “Do you want to bounce?” She nodded yes but stood still. Then Katie said “Do you want me to go with you?” And the girl’s face lit up. So Katie braved the smell of feet (for as long as she could) and let loose and had fun with her new little buddies.
P.S. She knew their names!
Ok… being the photo girl that I am I wanted to add a couple screenshots to the comments but I can’t figure that out so I opened the post back up and I am adding them here. Pretend they are P.S. comments….
I also tweeted a blog link and added a hashtag #hope4memphis. (don’t I sound savvy 🙂 )
When I followed the hashtag, I found these to tweets about the service today and wanted to add them here as part of the photo essay.