We walk from door to door, red knuckled from knocking and drained by the humidity and heat. We find ourselves in a place where many people would be uncomfortable, but where some people call home. The streets are lined with trash, leftover fireworks and invisible footprints of those who walk them everyday. As we pass by all these homes, I cant help but think of all the stories of the people here. Theres a mural on a building close by that reads, La cancin de mis recuerdos in Spanish, or The song of my past. I find myself wondering what brought these people here, as Im sure they may wonder the same thing about me.
Each door we knock on is a mystery. The people behind them may greet us with smiles, or they may turn us away with a blank stare. Each home is a new experience. One of our teammates, Michael, mentioned the other day that any home could be beautiful while we were talking about the beauty we had observed on the outreaches. After that conversation, I made it my personal goal to search for beauty in unexpected places. Ive found it in the shy laugh of a child, the tears of a mother who changed her life for the sake of her kids, an elderly woman whos hearts desire is to make life better still, a strangers smile, and the colors splattered on these streets.
Another place Ive encountered grace is in a middle-aged woman that I met one morning. When she opened the door to us, she seemed very distant and disconnected. But, as we started talking, she really opened up to us. She told us the story of a recent personal tragedy that she had experienced and how afterwards God provided for her financially at just the right time. After she told us all the details of this specific situation, she began to cry as she pointed up and said, You cant tell me that Hes not great! She continued her story and told us how distant her son had become and how she felt like she couldnt really talk to him. This situation, and the personal tragedy she suffered, had led her to a place of loneliness. She explained to us that she wanted so badly to be a part of a community here in the neighborhood. She needed so badly to be connected with other people. So, we told her that if she wanted, we could come by her house before church. We did, and Ive never seen a bigger smile. We arrived early and she was already waiting for us. We went to church, and afterwards her eyes were once again filled with tears as she said, Oh, Ill definitely be back next week. It was beautiful to see her so joyful. God really blessed each of us through that situation this week.
This community is teaching us in many ways. We may be uncomfortable at times. We may be pushed, or yanked, out of our comfort zones. We may be speaking a language that is not our own. We may struggle to find words to speak. We may be overwhelmed at the sights and sounds of a day doing outreaches. We may strive to understand why. But, we werent called to understand. We are told to trust in Him and lean not on our own understanding. We must trust Him. He knows our hearts, as well as those of the people we encounter. In the midst of the unopened doors and sweltering heat, He is glorified. In the middle of the suffering and pain, He is making His name great.
He is alive. He is working. And, you cant tell me that Hes not great.