It's being viewed as many different types of events, one of them is a mission trip that requires no travel or money for accommodations. It has no official title but unofficial but descriptively it's called the Polk Community Interfaith Hospitality Network Pilot Project or something like that. It's an experiment, it's the first of many such events, it's a inspiration for future events. It is a week of providing housing and meals for three families who otherwise would not have a place to stay or an guarantee of the next meal.
While the planning and preparation has been going on for months, yesterday morning the first actual activity started when two pickup trucks delivered 18 mattresses to Christ's Church. After worship service scatter rugs were placed in several rooms followed by tables, lamps, easy chairs and the mattresses. Later in the afternoon food and volunteers started arrived and the bustle elevated.
Around 5:15 with high five and random introductions three families piled out of in two vans. Sergio and Maria, whose Spanish is more fluent than their English, with their six children aging from two to 14 moving into the room upstairs. An eight year-old girl exclaimed to her mother as they stepped into their space, "We each have our lamps. This is mine and the big one is yours." Mom turned to a volunteer, "This is the best. It's so nice to have our own room.
James claimed the third room. He was alone in his adjoining room with three mattresses because his partner was in the hospital with a kidney infection and the three year-old son was in a Safe House for Children. She'll probably join the group today and their son the next day.
Orientation which was routine for this veteran of this form of living was followed by meatloaf, baked potatoes, green salad and cookies hustled up by a half dozen volunteer cooks. The designated host for the evening offered thanks for the the day, the fellowship and the food. Guests and hosts chatted as they ate and ran back and forth from the counter of food. The children quickly ended up on the braided rug in the corner stacking and bumping over towers. The routine is not new to these families, so they soon moved to quiet time in their rooms knowing that the wake-up call would come at 6:00AM.
Not knowing what to expect, although with eight children one might expect some expression of high energy and possible misunderstanding, it was a bit out of the ordinary to find the building quiet by 8:00PM. With all the counters wiped down, lights dimmed and doors secure, we started the night on uncomfortable camping cots. Just before locking the doors the Susan, the food coordinator, came by with her husband and daughter to see how the evening, walking in the door said "There's a sweet smell of the Spirit through the building." Yes, thirteen persons including toddlers and teens were sleeping in a warm dry place with full stomaches. God graciously works through our neighbors.