I don't even know where to begin since it has been over 2 months since my last blog entry. However, God has really taken me in a new direction with my service to Him. Back in February, I felt the tug to begin Tuesday night praise band practice. Much to my surprise, my mentor and friend who signs the services,who had an unexpected loss of her mother, turns to me and says, "I need help. Can you be here Tues nights?"
I knew right then that God was trying to clue me in with what He intended me to do on Tuesday nights. Forget singing Robin, you're going to learn a whole new language.
From there, I practiced regularly with the group and on my own. By Spring, I tried signing the music to a couple songs. It all felt very fast & abrupt. I was not confident in my own abilities but if I have nothing else, I have trust in God. So, I did it.
In summer, my mentor-friend was signing on her own (as the other lady was on vacation) and still very busy with her own personal life. Since many, if not all the deaf, of the deaf in our church had seem to scatter away over the course of a year, I thought maybe it would be 'neat' to experiment with signing a service once without the pressure of somebody depending on me to actually interpret. We had agreed that I would stay on the floor, in front of the chairs, studied his sermon the hour before and somehow, I managed to survive it. I don't think the pastor finished his "Amen" and my crowd of supporters jumped to their feet to hug & encourage me. It was quite an accomplishment that I could do all that with such little training. God's accomplishment, not mine.
Two weeks later, I continued in the sermon series and again felt elated. It was done and I had survived.
As Fall has come and almost done, I have found myself in a signing rotation at church and getting challenged constantly. Last month, I had the "10-40 Window" and suffered through countless statistics that numbed my brain as well as my fingers. In a few days, I will have the honor is signing the various names of God. As you can see, God is stretching me to my limits each and every time. Sometimes I cry when I feel like a failure but my mentor-friend (Pam) won't let Satan discourage me. I know she prays for me and she encourages me so much. I'm forever grateful for her deep understanding of the fragile woman's mind needing constant reassurance.
Until today, I only had had one conversation with a deaf person. He was an Uncle to a church member (& friend) who was visiting from another state. It was all short-lived and I felt like I needed more. Why has God put such a desire in my heart to love this language and need more of it?
And then today, it was supposed to be a normal day of schooling, shopping and then getting right back home. I left the house at 1pm not realizing how starving I was. I pulled into McDonald's for fries and a drink. I can't stand McDonald's but insisted I needed fries. I have no idea why, but then I found myself ordering the chicken sandwich combo. Why? I don't even enjoy eating cardboard chicken. Then, some other customer's question caught my attention.
"Are you in line?" said the man.
The man behind me pointed to each of us in an order, never speaking a word. Was he deaf? So, I signed to him, asking him that. And he said, "Yes." I asked him if he needed help ordering and he did NOT. This was not his first trip to Mickey D's. He had his paper ready with his order on it. Ok, excuse me and I minded my business the rest of the time.
I get my order, get in my suv and start munching on fries when I see 2 black garbage bags at the little outdoor table. Oh my. He was homeless. It has to be his. How did I miss the signs of old clothes and full beard? I mean, we have a lot of bikers and beach bums, BUT, this sweater wasn't even good enough to be in the thrift store. kwim? I sat there, munching my fries. My heart was breaking. He came out the door and sat there at the table, with his back to me. A whirlwind of thoughts and questions came to my mind. How awful it was to be homeless but to be deaf and homeless. It seemed like too much. I called Pam and told her about my situation. She thought she knew the man and had talked with him before too. She prayed with me to do whatever God called me to do and we hung up.
I sat there munching my fries in contemplation. I saw the man bow his head. I thought maybe he was praying & blessing his food. I was wrong, but that's what I thought at this moment. He was enjoying a sundae. I was still freaked out on the atrocity life had dealt him while I was grabbing more fries. And the light-bulb went on.
I didn't buy the sandwich for me. I wasn't even hungry for that. I was supposed to give it to him. It was like a no-brainer as I grabbed it and locked up my car. Where does this ridiculous boldness come from? Next thing I know, I'm having lunch with a deaf, homeless man. We made small talk. He did not want my chicken sandwich, saying he was full. He even offered his sandwich to me. We talked about how he looked like a fisherman. And then the brick wall hit. He was clear that he rejected God, Jesus and the church. Three times he told me. So, we finished up small talk and he brought out a paper to me that said that he was asking for donation. I had no problem giving him some of my extra. I thought about going cheap on him but then I realized how ridiculously blessed I was with a roof over my head and plenty enough money in the bank to buy all the useless cardboard chicken sandwiches I wanted.
I came back to him and asked him for his name. Brooke Reid (if you feel led to pray for him too), born in 1959. When I gave him the money, he gave me a hug. I thanked him for the conversation and told him that while I knew he didn't like God, I would still pray for him. He politely nodded his head. I walked away with my doubly-rejected chicken sandwich. Why did I take that thing with me?
I headed down the road and could not get all this out of my head. I shopped and yet it would not go away. I listened to Christian music and he was in every song. I don't know if I did enough. I don't know if God wanted me to do more. Why am I not satisfied that I offered him food, threw him some money and honed up on my ASL skills? God, why do I feel so helpless? Shy of bringing him home for food, bath & a bed, I don't know what else I could have done without Jack's protection of being with me. I can pray. I can pray for Mr Reid. And so can you.
Tonight, it will be about 58 degrees with very little moon and the winds are picking up. Mr. Reid will be outside snoozing on the ground. Goodness, I hate camping on the cold, hard ground. I don't think I could bear the thought of him in the rain. Thank you Lord for not making it rain tonight. Thank you Lord for giving me a burden to pray for somebody who really needs you. Thank you for giving me the gift of sign language so I could reach out to somebody who rarely gets to 'speak' to another person.
In all of life's trials, God still calls us to do His work and stay focused on him.
Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family.