I just returned from 7 days of working on one of the most challenging, fulfilling, joyful, and rich experiences of my life. I doubt that I will ever take on a big organizing job unless it is a team effort with clients who are eager to make the changes needed to clean up their act.
Previously I have kept the clients name and location confidential, but now that they have worked with me and many other people who love and care about them, they actually want to share with people about their experience. Clearing out a three bedroom house where there were only paths to get to a few places which were livable in the house was only possible because George and Retha were so ready to make changes, the people who were involved were loving and accepting, and we put Jesus right in the center of all the activity.
Yes, the job was completed successfully. George and Retha were overjoyed with the results. George and Retha said many times, “I didn’t expect that it would be this good.” Actually, I was excited about this job, but I never dreamed of all the rewards I would receive, including making life-long friends, facilitating prayer and other activities which brought people together including dancing, singing, laughing, crying, and sharing stories about our lives.
I took about 250 photos with a few videos mixed in to catch the dancing and singing. Each photo was a reminder to me not only of the progress we were making–the before and after shots are amazing-but also the journey of watching Retha and George being transformed before my eyes even as their environment was being transformed.
George has had Multiple Sclerosis for decades, and Retha has had Parkinson’s disease for many years as well. Their illnesses is the main reason that the house got out of control. They are loved by many in the relatively small town of Booneville, Arkansas, but they felt isolated and trapped because of both their physical environment and discouraging state of health. One of the most fulfilling thing about this job was seeing people who cared about this precious couple rejoicing at the beautiful things that were happening in their home. One person who had visited faithfully and regularly to deliver food had never been in their home, so when we had a home blessing gathering it was so special to see her exultation at being able to be invited into Retha and George’s home.
I could write a full length book about all that transpired during the past 8 days which consisted of mostly 14 hour days with the exception of a ten hour day when I first came, and a mere seven hours on Sunday when I got to visit a very sweet little church and later attend and amazing Christian concert where a group called Sounds of Hope performed. When I told Pat, the wonderful woman who hired me to do the job and who worked long hours to help complete it, that I thought maybe it would be better if I worked while the family and friends shared a meal at a local Christian restaurant, she said, “No way. You are part of our family. I really want you to be with us.” And I loved getting to know the folks who were supportive of Retha and George better.
I got very little sleep for various reasons especially the past four nights, so I am super tired and in need of an uninterrupted good night of shut eye. So I won’t write the full length book right now, but I can assure you there will be many blog posts and an abundance of pictures. I hope that by sharing the richness of this experience you will be inspired and encouraged at how the love of God and love of people can make such a difference. I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve using just about every skill and talent I possess, and I look forward to doing more of these jobs in the future.