September 9, 2019
Missouri Missions Update #5 - Final Update
April 14, 2018 | Kathy Smarrella
As I sit here at the Refuge kitchen table, people are having last minute conversations, and others are packing up their belongings for our 6 am departure on the big Vineyard bus. It’s been a pretty amazing last day, I have to say. We were motivated to get some stuff finished this morning, as we had some special plans this afternoon. So, after breakfast, we were off. . . Some went to finish the floor tiling in the Hope House; others to organize the soap room (Harvest Home makes their own soap, don’t you know. . . ); a couple others went to fix lawn mowers and fill potholes; still others went to paint dressers and move heavy stuff. It is a joy for our team to work side-by-side with folks from Harvest Home—both staff and residents. I must say, we made excellent teams this week, all of us together. Someone said tonight, at our final gathering, that we have a common pursuit, so it is not a struggle to know each other well after just a few days. Our common pursuit is, of course, seeking after the heart of God and what He has for all of us.
�After a break for lunch, the men and women went our separate ways. The guys worked a little longer—putting the final touches on the floor of the Hope House and finalizing a couple other projects. We were grateful to them because they gave us women a chance to gather together with the female residents of Harvest Home and hear their stories. These girls offered their testimonies of what God is doing in their lives, and several of them shared what God has brought them out of. The trust they had for our team brought tears to my eyes. For some of these young women, trusting others has not gone well. And yet, they shared their hearts and their stories with us as sisters and friends. Later, these young women and the staff prayed blessings over each of our Vineyard women—I can’t really begin to describe what that was like. I watched and could not help but let the tears fall down my face because of what God was doing in the room. The Holy Spirit was so clearly there with us, even the wind blowing in the windows was evidence to His presence. It was a humbling and powerful afternoon.
�Later in the afternoon, our Vineyard men had their own opportunities to hear the stories of some of the guys from Harvest Home, which was meaningful and time well spent. And while they waited for us to arrive (late) to dinner, we learned that they didn’t get impatient, instead Killean picked up his guitar and they worshipped together while waiting. It was pretty cool to walk up to dinner and hear that.
After dinner, both our teams gathered together for one final evening. We experienced a great time of worship and communion and then we asked everyone, “Where did you see God this week?” I think almost everyone in the circle had something to share. God has moved this week in ways even I did not expect.
�I was struck by something Sally, one of the staff at Harvest Home, said today. She said, “Whether we live here or somewhere else, we are all in the process of being transformed.” I have been thinking about transformation all week long. . . Since being here last year, some of these young women have simply astounded me by their growth. They have been and are being transformed by God and by the amazing love of these staff who have become their family. But, I’m also realizing that transformation can happen/does happen even if we don’t know we need to be transformed. Do you know what I mean? We may think we’ve come from a fine family, that we’ve made good decisions, that we’ve not experienced anything too traumatic—but even if that’s the case (and guess what I’m learning—it’s often NOT the case)—we all need transformation. We all are supposed to look more and more like Jesus. And that takes time and effort and deliberate action. And this Vineyard team—they have been transformed this week. Some a little, some a lot. In serving others, in working their butts off, in conversations with others, in pushing through to help—they themselves are transformed more and more into the image of God.
Thanks for your continued prayers this week. I’d say God did a great job of answering them!