As one year approaches…

There are times when I feel the familiarity of my hometown… the old post office, Piggly Wiggly, and the pond at Memorial Park. Feelings surface as the memories rush to the surface… and I feel “at home”. Then there are other times when this trailer park, that I now call home, seems as though I am not in Lancaster but in the foreign mission field far from home and anything that I have ever known.

While decorating for Christmas this week, I remember last Christmas when I hung the boys stocking on the mantle. The mantle they had watched Momma’s Santa Clause lights blink and their toddler eyes sparkle with wonder as they await Santa’s arrival. I felt the loss of the changes the boys and I have undergone. But this year, children ask me why do we hang stockings because they have never had anything in their stockings on Christmas morning. As the tree is decorated, a friend gazes at the tree and says he has no decorations made from his childhood as they were lost through the many fosters homes in which he spent his life. My heart breaks, my eyes tear up, and I feel their loss with them…

And then I feel the compelling of God’s love to demonstrate His love for my new family. My new family that consists of many different colors, nationalities, languages, and socioeconomic classes. And I feel Him pulling me deeper into His love for the peoples in this trailer park. I’ve wondered how deep can He pull me into service, and that surely “I’m there” where He wants me… then a month will pass, and I feel He has pulled me deeper still into His love for this “foreign place”.

Years ago, I remember singing the song “Where I Belong” because it truly described my feelings. “Sometimes it feels like I’m watching from the outside. Sometimes it feels like I’m breathing but am I alive. I will keep searching for answers that aren’t here to find. All I know is I’m not home yet. This is not where I belong….”. While driving last week, this song came on and as I was singling along, I realized that I no longer feel this way….. it was such a peaceful feeling.

Living here is sometimes messy. There are times when the knocks on the door are not at the most convenient times. Lives are messy and complicated. There are many times when I am afraid. When I angrily watch as some children are neglected and not loved. When my heart breaks as children are evicted because their families have not paid their rent…. then the not knowing where the children are taken… and we can no longer hug them and tell them that we love them and Jesus loves them…. and that they are beautiful and so smart. These are words they do not hear… and their faces light up and the smile rises to their eyes. Times when the couple in the trailer behind me fight to the early hours of the morning and we cannot sleep….. Champ and I sit on the steps and pray they do not kill each other. These times are hard…. sometimes very hard.

But….. there is so much that is a blessing…. walking with new Christians as they look for a church to call home… watching their eyes light up as they learn stories of Jesus’ life. Many times when I get home, I  hear “Hey Che Che” from a sweet little voice and Kayli and her brothers run down the road towards my little trailer. There are precious moments sitting in church while my friends child plays with my hair as she sits snuggled in my lap. Or when I hear “Hey Shay Shay” along with a precious giggly laugh! Or when a neighbor stacks her first set of sugar scrubs that she made all by herself, takes a pictures, and is so proud of what she has done to provide for her family. And I now look at my Christmas tree drooping with 4-5 ornaments per limb placed there by little hands and feel love at how my world has grown and how blessed that I am.

I want to thank each of you for your continued prayers for my neighbors…… and for the boys and me as we continually learn to balance this new life. I want to ask you to continue to pray for my neighbors and for my family as His love for this community continues to be demonstrated beyond our wildest imaginings. He is a good good Father and I am so thankful that He called me to this place and has faithfully stood by my side every step of the way.

Love in Christ,

Shanda

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