Trailer Park…pt 2 – the incarnational journey

That fall we stumbled upon a block of lower end motels, near the community beach, that had “no vacancy” on their signs. It seemed odd to us for motels to be full that time of year.

Who lived there?, we asked to ourselves. We eventually mustered up the courage to walk into one or two of the motels trying to find the managers to ask that very question.

We discovered the motel was filled with students, immigrants, single parents or those holding on to the last rung before becoming homeless. Rent was only available month to month, a damage deposit unnecessary and references not required. We began slowly to meet various people renting the rooms by loitering and bringing small items of food staples (and chocolate).

Some we met once, others invited us closer and further into their lives. Soon Christmas would arrive and we wondered how we would manage to meet the practical needs of all these people we were getting to know.

We had an idea!

Our idea was to bring the larger spiritual community into our relationships with these people and together serve their needs. We begin to prepare our friends at the motel and the larger spiritual community for this exchange.

We invited our spiritual community to begin contributing items to prepare 50 – 60 large hampers to take to this motel during the week leading up to Christmas. Each hamper would have enough food/items/supplies and gifts to last a home or family for several weeks.

That was the dream and the hope!

I vividly remember that Sunday morning, only days before Christmas. Our worship gathering that Sunday was simply creating food hampers together. As people began arriving with food supplies and items in hand, we had table with an empty hamper basket every 3 or 4 feet pre-prepared for them. Each family or person would take from the building pile of food items to prepare a hamper together.

No music, no speaker or sermon, just gathering to serve together that day. Would that work as a church service, I wondered?

In the middle of the hustle and bustle of preparing these hampers, with all ages present, there was a moment, a distinct moment when I felt the presence of God descend on us in the room.

It wasn’t only me that felt it or knew it, apparently. Spontaneously people began to publicly pray, to speak out words of hope for those we were about to serve. It was like God was authorizing us to go.

We felt sent, we felt invited by God. I will never forget that moment.

After an hour of preparations, we packed the hampers into vehicles as families planned to meet us at the motel to give them away. Our final instruction was simple. Go there to connect to people as people. You are not representing an organization, a church or club.

You are a follower of Jesus going to simply love on people and show practical kindness.

We didn’t want people to clutter the new potential relationships with organizational communication. This is about people getting to know people.

Franz and I arrived a head of time to try to make sure the residences of the motel rooms would be home as indicated.

Dropping off hampers at door would be less than the hope of people meeting people.

To our surprise many of our new friends weren’t home.

Had they forgotten? Did we scare them away? What do we do now with all these hampers and hopes in families hearts?

We were a bit shocked and uncertain on what to do in that moment. Did we just set people up for disappointment? God where are you in this one? These questions flooded our hearts and minds.

While a few families and people were able to give out hampers and connect most were left standing there with disappointment written on their faces.

We were left with over 40 hampers and families wondering what to do…. When suddenly someone had an idea.

Across the road from the motels was a trailer park. It had close to 40 mobile homes in it. It was clearly run down and had the visual reputation of a bottom rung place. We had seen the trailer park but had never visited it before. Maybe they could use these hampers, some thought. A few families and people had the courage to cross the road and see if anyone there was home and needed/wanted a hamper for Christmas.

Little did we know what we had just walked into at that moment.

It was the beginning of a several years journey that has changed many lives, including my own.

In trailer after trailer people were home and welcoming us in. The elderly, disabled, addicts, young families with limited education, aboriginals, single parents, families hanging on the bottom rung all lived together in community. Like a swat team being air lifted we descended on this community giving away almost all the hampers.

We later gathered in a local park to try to debrief our experience. What happened? How did it change and what was God doing?

People from our spiritual community had met people with empty cupboards, were welcomed into their homes, people asked for and received prayer. There were tears of joy, the shock of unexpected kindness and the overall surprise for all of us involved that God was up to something and we stumbled into his grace.

We had found favor and favor had found us when we were looking the other way.

Read Trailer Park…pt 3 – the incarnational journey for the next leg of the journey.

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on October 8, 2012.

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