This weekend my family was privileged to help with Hopes Closet- It is a ministry of New Life Church, Cabot, Ar. This year the schools donated 13,000 cans of food, 400 turkeys were donated, and people gathered to create boxes of hope for 200 families or 800-1000 people of the community. Thanksgiving dinners will abound.
Friday night we helped sort cans of food, make boxes, and get them ready for the big day- Saturday. Early Saturday morning I was fortunate enough to work in the Nexus youth center. It was transformed into a used close area which provided coats and warm clothing for families of the community.
Families upon families gathered to get a coat. I will never forget the look on the face of the brown eyed 6 year old as she found the perfect turquoise jacket. I asked her if she liked ballerinas and she told me in a whisper tone- those are my favorite. I had a special treat for her- a hat and glove ensemble which had ballet slippers and flowers. She was so excited it took her Mom's insistence to get her to take it off as they left in the 70 degree weather.
I marveled at the gracious people that came through the doors. I loved helping them find just right right coat for their children. The smiles on their face and sometimes the glimmer of a tear in their eye was payment enough for my 10 hour day.
One lady stopped, hugged me and said- thanks for looking at me in my eyes when you talk to me. What a gift you have given me today. I quickly turned around hoping she did not catch the tear that quickly flowed down my cheek.
Suddenly the room was a buzz with the sound of four small Spanish boys. Their Mom wearily followed them into the room. She looked at me and asked me if I spoke Spanish. I told her it was limited but I could understand a whole lot more than I could speak. The worst thing is that about 15 years ago I was proficient enough to translate during services- my Spanish had fled my mind due to lack of practice.
She told me that they needed coats and jeans for their children. She told me that her name was Reyna. I later was introduced to her husband Elvis. Elvis had a lot of gold teeth and a huge smile. He told me that he was from Guatemala. As you can imagine the conversation grew from there as I lived there for three months.
Later I tried to steer the conversation to God. He next told me a remarkable story. He told me that he was raised in a particular religion. This religion is prominent in his country. He never really had a personal relationship with God- religion was just a part of his life. He said that one day while going to work he felt like God was telling him that he wanted to have a relationship with him. That all Elvis had to do was to talk to him that HE would hear him. Elvis said that he thought he was loosing his mind. But there was such a feeling that came over him while he heard those words he knew that he was not making it up.
He said that days later his son became gravely ill and died. He was fearful. As soon as his firstborn son died- he heard that same voice again. The Lord told him- pray to me- and I will raise up your son. He prayed to God and asked him to heal his son and raise him up. His son was restored to life. The very boy that was running around in the room.
He said that he started reading his Bible and really wanted to know more of the words of God. He wanted an experience. He told me that when he walked into the church that he felt the same way he did when God was speaking to him. We talked some more, exchanged phone numbers and promised to get in contact with each other after the holidays.
I prayed for Elvis and Reyna this morning. I know that God has great things in store for them.
I am so grateful that my family could help out this weekend. Was I tired? Absolutely. Was it hard to get out of bed on Sunday- you had better believe it. But nothing can take away the memories that my girls had this weekend from helping others. Every can that they sorted, every turkey that they gave away, every smile that they showed on their face was a reflection of God's love to others.
I am thankful that Elvis was in the building, and that the Lord entrusted me with his families friendship.
May my children always demonstrate Acts 20:35 (King James Version):
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.