the gated courtyard at the church we were staying at... no one was allowed to walk through it after 9 o clock at night
Maddie and I finished handing out those bright daisies like the ones sitting on my desk right now. She and I, we noticed those moms and then all the extra ice cream sandwiches.
"Let's bring them over to them." Maddie, the soon-to-be youth pastor's wife, was much bolder than me.
the gated park where we played with the neighborhood kidsWe walk out of the gated park, away from the joyful happy laughter of children and across the street where poverty in sits like a heavy weight on these wonderful mothers.
Knock on one of the brownstone-like doors. The houses are all lined up in a line here, never disconnecting, holding up one another. This one is painted purple, and it makes me smile to see such a bright house in such a dark neighboorhood.
your average house in Philadelphia near Kensington Ave.The young mom of the little girl that has stolen all of the hearts at the playground with her 4-year old sweetness opens the door. We explain the extra food from our little party, and she brightens. I ask if she would take the ice cream bars so they won't spoil in the hot July sun. I spot three more little ones in the living room. This mom breathes slow, joy filled with the thought of simple ice cream bars.
Holding the flowers and breathing myself, we step away and the door closes.
A few doors down, two mothers sit discussing things on their doorsteps. Everyone does this here. It brings a sense of community- of getting through this hard part together.
We hand over the flowers. I don't see the next part coming at all.
She starts to cry.
As she fingers the vibrant petals, she smiles through her tears.
"I love flowers..." she whispers. "But I can't find them... can't have them in the city..."
I break. I don't cry right then, but later that night when we lie in our room full of bunks and heat and I hear the roar of fireworks? When I look in out the gated and locked courtyard doors, through the barred windows?
I see her happy face. Smiling, finding such joy and thankfulness for a few flowers....
then I cry.
And I don't cry by myself.
The skate boarders, the tough guys, came on the missions trip. They played at the park, rolled kids giggling and screaming with joy on their skateboards. I see this and again I break.
the Kensington Ave L-Station
We as a group were deeply changed by the week on Kensington Avenue.
funny story actually...
Our youth group went down to LOVE park in downtown. We rode the SEPTA L-Train, and brought with us two huge birthday cakes. Sat them down on a bench. After three days in the city, we were used to traveling in threes- two girls, and at least one guy. We split off, cake in hand. Wished people happy birthday, celebrated them even if it wasn't even close to when they were born.
Love Park in Downtown
Just showing them that Jesus LOVEs them so much, and through Him, we too could reach out to others in Love...
Me, Hannah, and Becca found a lady to sit with. She proceeded to tell us everything she knew about Philadelphia. The conversation turned to talking about which areas to stay out of. She turned to us three,
"Whatever you do, stay away from Kensington Ave. People, they aren't good down thata way."
I snuck a look at my friends, who were smiling as much as I was.
"Well, that's kind of hard. The church we're staying at is two blocks from the Kensington Ave L-station."
the front of our host church
We didn't mention that we had walked through there twice today, served a meal for the homeless down there a few days ago.
Oh her face was priceless! Jaw open and shock written all over her face!
The Lord worked many miracles among us that week. Three people recieved Christ as their Lord and Savior. We heard with our own ears the voice of the Lord telling us what we were to do each day as we sought him in a time of direct prayer.
And to think that I had forgotten about this.
But thank you Jesus for those bright flowers on my desk. I saw them after listening to My Own Little World by Matthew West, and it all came roaring in like the Mississippi river.
And I thank the Lord for it because way too often I forget.
(kaye ann silver)