Showing up redux
Several months ago I wrote about my desire to start volunteering at Austin LifeCare. At the time I was taking the Austin LifeCare 101 class and was still a little doubtful that someone in my situation could be meaningfully involved. It’s so entertaining (or is it awkward?) to read something you wrote in the past. Besides noticing so many places where the writing could have been better, I marveled at how much my vantage point has changed since then. Since my last entry about LifeCare, I have been able to get involved with two different aspects of the ministry and have been encouraged and surprised at how easy and life changing this experience has been for me.
If this is where you stop reading, I want to go ahead and say that this month All Saints is holding a Baby & Maternity Clothing Drive for LifeCare. At the end of the month (Sunday, August 30th) the director of Austin LifeCare, Pam Cobern, will be conducting a LifeCare 101 Class immediately following the service. This class is a requirement to become a volunteer. I think it’s pretty great that this is being offered on a Sunday after church in order that more folks might participate.
Now, back to the re-cap.
Since May, I have been volunteering in Hannah’s Closet. One day a week I organize donations and meet with clients who are either pregnant or have already had their baby in order to outfit mother and child with necessities.
I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with Hannah’s Closet. I initially thought I would get to know the LifeCare staff and see first hand what goes on at their offices. I also was looking forward to meeting more clients.
Meet more, I have! A few weeks ago, I met with a young high school aged woman with a precious baby boy. I asked her how she was doing and she said, “Okay,” in that unconvincing sort of way that sounds more like a question.
In talking with her I found out that her husband had been deported 6 months earlier, and she had moved in with her mother-in-law. Between the two of them they were working three jobs. My heart broke as I listened to this young woman, so clearly in love with her son and so willing to do whatever it takes to provide for him. I spontaneously asked her if I could pray for her and did so (now, if you know me, you know I don’t spontaneously break into prayer very often). I will meet with her again this month. I have no idea if her circumstances will have changed, but I do know God is at work.
In addition to my work at Hannah’s closet, my friend Sabra and I have been meeting with a PAL (Partners Affirming Life…a client of LifeCare who is matched with a volunteer for mentoring and support during her pregnancy). Our PAL is wonderful and her sweet heart and determination are inspiring. She is somewhat skeptical of corporate worship and religion in general due to experiences earlier in life.
One evening when we were talking she asked, “Jen, have you been praying for me?”
I told her, “Yes, Sabra and I have as well as our Bible study. Is that all right”?
“I was just wondering, because I feel as though you have. Thank you.”
I hope these two stories reveal a little bit of what I’ve experienced at LifeCare. There really is a “mission field” in our own proverbial backyard – within our own church congregation even. It has not been until these past several months that I have seen this through very different lenses. It has been a pleasure to serve these women at Hannah’s Closet and a true delight to walk with my PAL through her pregnancy. Though I may have thought I had to set aside extra special blocks of time (that I really didn’t have) to bond, it is through inviting her into my life at the park with our kids or for dinner in our home where the connection is really made. In other words, I thought all of this would stress me out (like posting this blog entry does). Now, not only do I see the Lord’s hand in all these things, but I see how He is even growing me. As one of my friends said several weeks ago, “I see joy in you that I have not seen.” I think that about sums it up for me. When we see Christ and reflect His glory, surely we cannot help but be joyful!
If you’re at all interested or just want to know something more about any of these things I’ve just rambled on about… please don’t hesitate to find me at church or email me.