My Weekend, and how it changed my life

Monday, September 05, 2005
OK, it all started Friday afternoon. I was at my brother's apartment, getting ready to drive to my sister's Open House (they just built a new house, and they were throwing a party for friends and family). Gas prices had already risen (I paid $60 to fill up my tank... but I didn't complain, because at least I had a truck to fill up!), and we figured it would cost $50 to drive to my sister's house and back (it would be the three of us: my brother, his wife, and I). We at first decided that it was worth the money to spend time with family that we haven't seen for 6 months (grandmother and cousins).
But then we started thinking: "We are going to spend money to have a party, while tens of thousands of people are homeless." So we decided to not go, and made plans for the next day.
Saturday, we went to Wal-Mart and bought $130 worth of food. We took it to my bro's apartments, where 4 families had just moved in. The apartment complex had a huge heart, because there were piles of food and even more clothing. We ended up sorting the clothes for several hours, and helped a woman bring donated items to her "new" apartment. She was nearing tears while she thanked God for the help around her.
After that, we took the rest of the food to a donation center. We stayed the rest of the day there sorting items, boxing them up, and shipping them to different shelters (I have never seen so many diapers!).
Then, things got back to "normal" for me. I drove back to my dorm Saturday night, and washed up for the next day. Sunday morning, I got to church early to run the service (I run the sound at my church). After church, I went and saw "Red Eye" with my friend (he works at the movie theater... FREE TICKETS!!!, and a pretty good movie, BTW). When we got out of the movie, it was right at 2:30. I remembered that my church was going to serve food at another church that was acting like a shelter. So I went back to church, and changed clothes (I still hadn't taken the clothes out of my truck from the night before). We left at 3, and took piles of donated items with us, as well as lots of food! But, there was a bonus: our congregation donated enough money to buy ONE HUNDRED cots for people to sleep on!
So, we head off with our donations. On the way there, I get to know Stephen, who is riding in the car with me. Stephen was in New Orleans when the hurricane hit. It is one thing to see people on the news, it is another to talk to them in person. His house was flooded with about 4 feet of water, but luckily, they had moved all of their possessions (clothes, mainly) into the attic. A passing neighbor asked him (jokingly) "What happened to your boat?" After a few days, Stephen made a small raft and waded through the water, using the raft to carry his few items. When he got to the Super Dome, it took him a while to get on a bus headed for Dallas. 10 hours later ("The bus driver liked to stop at every chance"), they landed in Dallas, where they were registered and told to wait. While he was waiting, someone spotted him and asked him if he wanted to stay with them. Turns out, she is the one sitting behind me, next to Stephen.
So, we finally get to the church. This church was originally going to hold 50-75 people, but like most places, they received more than that. As of Saturday night, they had over 250 people there. We served them dinner of loaded baked potatoes (with chili), caesar salad with chicken, watermelon, grapes, and lots of other fruits and snacks. It was odd having them through the lines (I was serving the chili). Several of them had never had a loaded baked potato before, and other's didn't know what a caesar salad would taste like. It was a culture shock to me.
After serving diner and cleaning up, we loaded up and headed home, but our mission isn't over. We have committed to helping this church with whatever it needs done in the next few weeks; we already a list of things to do.
It felt good to get in tonight. I left the house before 8AM, and got back after 11PM, but because of poor planning (and not knowing what was going on), I was still wearing my church shoes (OK, they are not church shoes, they are black work shoes that are comfy, but still...).

I tell you this (and spend 30 minutes writing it) not for self gratification; I do it to let others know that they are not alone in this dark world. I want those that are lost and hurt to know that there are people in this world that will give anything and everything, from money, to objects, to time, and even their own home, to help those that are less fortunate. I don't volunteer my time because I want to look good, or because I want to raise my social status. I do it to glorify God. He calls us to serve others. By helping the needy, we praise God so that He may be seen by others.

Depending on your situation, it is my hope that you walk away from this message either filled with hope that God will guide your life, or that you are motivated to help those around you.



Matt said...


There is more than one way to serve your country. God bless.