Saturday, March 21, 2009

So there was this guy singing, see...

I used to have to go to student recitals when I took music appreciation in college. If they didn't make us go, nobody would show up, because recitals were B-O-R-I-N-G. I was also taking art classes, so I'd relieve my boredom by sketching whoever was singing or playing or strumming or tooting.

So get this – 30+ years later, I'm going through college memorabilia (junk I saved) and I come across a program from some guy's recital. I saved it because of the brilliant artwork (!), not because I remember Jeff H. But I'm thinking, hey, maybe he's still out there singing somewhere. He sang pretty good in Italian or whatever.

Being a Google junkie, I Google Jeff H and I find this music minister – a PhD no less – at a church back East. He doesn't list EWU in his bio, but what alum of EWU does? I look at his online photo and I look at my sketch (I was a brilliant sketcher) and I'm thinking, yup, could be!

So I email him a cautious note, because I don't want him thinking I'm a stalker. I explain that I ran across this printed program, and he looks kind of familiar, and is it maybe him?

A few hours later I get this email:

    It’s me. Can it be thirty years ago? Let’s see, I’m 51. I guess it is.
    Please help my worn out memory: how do I know you?

Now I realize I have to 'fess up, tell him the story, and send him the sketch and a short note saying I knew some of his accompanists from church. Later I get this email back:

    You’ve blessed me! Ah, the wonders of the internet.
    I remember that church - I attended for a number of months.
    Thank you for the sketch.
    Blessings to you and yours.

Ah the wonders of the Internet indeed - reconnecting with somebody I didn't remember who didn't remember me!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dignity and Desperation

When you sell stuff on craigslist, you meet a lot of nice people. This isn't anonymous eBay, where you mail things to New York. This is real life, in your face, actual people coming to your house.

The other day a sweet college girl picked up a small desk, thrilled to find something she could afford. A young couple driving a brand-new pickup bought our unused twin bed for their little girl, proclaiming it "perfect!" Another young couple in a very old truck took away a free pile of plastic gardening pots for their garden to feed hungry families. A kid gratefully hauled off our scraps of Trex lumber to build shelves in his workshop.

Then there was the family who pulled up in a van to buy a pair of doors for $20. The doors had languished quite a while unsold, so I was happy to have a buyer. A man came to the door, well-dressed in a shabby kind of way. He probably looked older than he really was because his shoulders were stooped, as if he were carrying a great weight.

A young man got out of the van to help get the doors. I heard a baby crying, and a girl in the back seat, who looked no older than 18, asked for warm water to fill the baby's bottle. While we were loading the doors, the older man said something about the baby's health problems - a cleft lip, hospitalization. He paid me, and the older woman in the front seat rolled down her window and called out, "Thank you SO much for selling us these!"

I was struck by this little family's quiet air of dignity and desperation. I took the man's money but regretted it as soon as they left. As I explained to Scotty, they seemed to really need it, but I didn't think fast enough to give it back. Scotty had the same thought I did: email them and offer to return their money.

The mom, who had emailed me about the doors, thanked me for offering their $20 back but said not to feel obligated. I insisted - I explained that God had laid it on my heart, it wasn't my idea. She gave in, and that's when I heard the rest of the story.

The family of four was actually a family of at least 10 - the older man and woman were husband and wife, and they had one child of their own and seven that were adopted. The seven had been removed from their birth home because of abuse and starvation, and now this couple were struggling to feed and care for them all. Medical problems and a lack of insurance had stretched them to the limit.

Sandy had indeed reached the point of desperation, but, she said, "I just think you ought to know how you have blessed me in my feeling that my prayers were not being heard, and realising now that they must be."

I've gathered some stuff for them - extras from our pantry, a box of food from the Union Gospel Mission, our old baby crib, high chair, and playpen. It will help, temporarily. I worry about what they'll do when this food is gone. But God calls us to help where and when He needs us to. For now, this is the help we can offer, and we'll continue to pray for Sandy and her family. Would you pray too?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Got Wench?

This is an actual ad - not a joke - that appeared in my church's March 2009 newsletter:

Need a Freezer?
Large chest freezer, free to a good home for just coming to pick it up. If interested, call F*******s Community Church at ***-**** or Dave C. at ***-****. Will most likely require a wench to get it out of the church basement.

Now I don't know about you, but I have a lot of stuff that needs to be moved out of my basement, and the funny thing is, I never thought of using a wench. If you have one I could hire, please call me at ***-****.