- Phone: 562-597-2411
- Mailing Address: 2250 Clark Avenue | Long Beach, CA 90815
- Sunday: 9 & 10:45 am
This is really our last day here since we fly out Saturday morning around 7 am. Today was a light day; we did a little spackling at Generation One, an inner city ministry while two of us helped an elderly woman pack up her house. The city is going to tear it down and build her a new one.
It sounds like a great ministry that works with folks in generations of poverty. For instance, they have a free preschool that helps prepare kids for elementary school Kids growing up in poverty usually lack some of the skills we assume all kindergartners have. They also struggle with social/emotional skills that are necessary to succeed in school
I've mentioned before how everyone here is so grateful and everyone we meet says, "Thank you." It's been a bit of a struggle to get these big sincere thank yous when you don't feel like you've done that much. But I realized something. If you look at the link from yesterday and realize how many Christians have worked in the Munoz's house in the last six months, you realize that it is a collective thank you to the overwhelming number of people who have added together to get them their lives back. It's not really "me" alone they are thanking, but a big collective "we." It's inspiring to realize that you are part of great whole that is producing these results. I am not the "hands" of Christ. I am the second knuckle on the pinky finger of the massive left hand of God. It's humbling.
I also wanted to mention a little of the philosophy of ReachGlobal Crisis Response. First, we didn't work that hard because they make it clear that relationships are more important. We are also there to minister to people who are still struggling. Drew, who leads us here, says that if you stop working and have a long conversation with the home owner, or a neighbor, that's preferred. Building them back up and showing them God's love is really the priority. Mrs. Munoz says that all of us coming in feel like her family.
The other part of this ministry that I really like is the partnership with the local churches. In that neighborhood, we are really there representing Shine Bible Fellowship. The purpose of this is so that the people we are helping can develop a connection with someone who isn' t leaving. Very soon, the Munoz's will not have people coming over every day to work on stuff, so it's important that they don't feel left alone. They have been connected to a local church group who will continue to care about them.
We return home tomorrow. Thanks again for your support!
Today, was my last day in the Munoz's house. I installed some more shelving and caulked windows outside. I finally figured out a pretty good way to do caulking, unfortunately I was halfway done by then.
Mrs. Munoz was teary eyed with her thank yous. You can just see how much it means to them that we are here. In fact, I've had so many thank yous from the locals of Houston Everyone you meet is so grateful. Even the guy at Alamo car rental gave us an upgrade to SUVs when he found out we were hear for Hurricane Harvey relief!
Check out this link to see many of the people who have worked on the Munoz house:
So, look at this picture of Munoz's street:
It is a nice street with nice homes, but what you can't tell is that almost half are empty. They have done a good job of taking away debris and getting things back to "normal" outside, but some of the home owners have walked away, while others are still waiting for help. The job is so far from over.
It is clear to me that the message of the parable of the good Samaritan is that your neighbor is anyone around you in need. Well, Mrs. Munoz is my neighbor even though she is over 1,500 miles away.
Until tomorrow, God bless,
Today is the 4th of July, but we had no intention of taking a day off in the middle of our week. We are really only working 4 full days because of travel and orientation. But since most people have the day off, today we worked alongside the Munoz's.
I have been fortunate to also work with April and Mike (a retired pastor). Their attitude and demeanor has made this such a great experience.
April and Mike finishing up a bathroom.
The people here are so appreciative. They are constantly expressing their gratitude. Today we went to the Vargo's for barbecue steak lunch with all the fixin's and apple pie a-la-mode (which Mr. Vargo grilled outside in the rain). Last night, dinner was curry shrimp and salmon in coconut milk. I'm saying this not to convince you to come on a mission, but it is one of the ways that people who are just now getting the homes livable after almost a year can think of to say, "Thank you." Their thanks are to you, too, for supporting us on this mission.
Lunch with the Vargos
Several groups of volunteers have been at each location over the past few months. Mr. Munoz asked Mike how it is possible that week after week they find people who are so giving and caring and willing to work without any complaints. It reminded me of Jesus' words: "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).
Thanks again to you for getting us here!
We are almost finished with the Munoz house. I spent the day putting shelves in closets. We also did a prayer walk in the neighborhood. Almost half of the houses are still empty, although they look ok from the outside. Some owners are still waiting for help, some have just walked away. We spoke to and prayed with Jose Perez, down the street, who has been able to make his house livable.
Yesterday, Drew, the leader here, pointed out that we are an answer to someone's prayer. This really struck me because I think of praying but not the possibility that I'm God's answer to prayer. It got me a little emotional.
One last thing, I lead the devotional this morning. Briefly, we read about Martha and Mary's reaction to the death of Lazarus. I focused on Martha's frustration that things did go the way she expected. ("Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.") On this side, we need to let go of our expectations and trust that God is in control and doing His will.
Even though Mary says the same thing, my sense is that she is acknowledging that Lazarus could have been healed, but accepting that was God's will that he die. She is just sad. It is not within either woman's worldview that Lazarus could be raised from the dead.
Martha is not trusting and blames God; Mary is trusting, but limited in her beliefs of what God can do. Both women believe, but need to expand their idea of what God can do.
We should let go of our own expectations, and replace them with higher expectations of what God can do and wants to do.
We had a our first day of working at someone's home. We are at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Munoz and today I helped create a rolling island for the kitchen. Both houses we are working on are almost done, so we are helping finish. The group that brought us in is really cool. They are encouraging us to focus more on the people than getting the job done. A huge part of what they do here is show the people that they are loved and haven't been forgotten. The Munoz's are so grateful!
The group that brought us in partners with local churches so that they can connect the people we are helping with a permanent community. Pray for the Munoz's and the continuing work of the people who will be here after we come home.
They showed us a short video about the hurricane. If you're interested, click here to view the video.
Thanks again, Allen