Last week my husband and I had the privilege of being the innkeepers at Room in the Inn. http://www.urbanministrycenter.org/essential-services/room-in-the-inn/ During four hours one very cold night, we welcomed fourteen guests to the cozily arranged basement of Providence United Methodist Church. Before the bus delivered them from the Urban Ministry Center where they had been registered, breathalyzed and organized, we set out cots, blankets, pillows and donated toiletries.
I needn’t have worried about what I was to do, since most of the guests were “veterans” of the system, setting about immediately to choose a cot or head for the shower or the washing machines. Soon three volunteers from the Church at Charlotte delivered a wonderful meal, and on this evening, some fifty adults and children from the neighborhood caroled for us while we ate.
John sat across from me at dinner as we feasted on the best pot roast I’ve tasted lately. He told about his dreams, way back when, to go to culinary school. He still loves to cook, but won’t be having much time for it when he finishes with the truck driving school he is currently enrolled in. But never you mind, there is hope of a real future in that road he will soon go down.
Between dinner and bedtime we made ourselves available simply to listen to the life stories of our guests. For me it was a wonderful confirmation that the path of Stephen Ministry I am pursuing will be filled with more blessings as a caregiver than it probably ever will be for the care receivers.
Carolyn couldn’t stop talking about the oversized picture of herself that she discovered hanging on the wall at the King’s Kitchen (http://www.kingskitchen.org earlier that morning. She remembers the day several years ago when someone approached her on the street in Raleigh and asked if they could take photos of her. You can readily see why her sleek, silver-grey hair and wide-eyed smile attracted their attention. Or maybe it was the slightly meandering but equally endearing ramble of conversation she sustains, with or without a ready listener.
Right after supper Ed had asked for paper and pencil and I watched as he moved off to a table by himself and became immersed in putting words down. I could relate to his intensity and smiled to myself, thinking he’d found a viable outlet, and I wondered if it was poetry. When he was finished he handed us a full page, beautifully printed and eloquently stated prayer request/Christmas wish list. At the top of the list was a large print Bible. We were able to deliver on a regular print version that we “lifted” from one of the Sunday School classes, and he readily accepted it even though he will need some visual aid to read it with his poor eyesight. As an unemployed graphic artist with a 90-day plan to get back on his feet, he welcomed our offer to pray with him that God would supply all his needs.
Donna talked openly about how the online classes she is taking through the University of Phoenix are addressing her learning style in a way traditional school never did. She hopes to be a counselor one day so she can help those like herself who find themselves out on the street at this time of year. The glaring disconnect in her story surfaced when she mentioned that her computer is in the hands of someone else along with her three-year old daughter. The pain in her soul was palpable as she abruptly ended the conversation and shuffled off to bed.
My husband and I barely touched the surface in communicating with a handful of the guests, but it was with very humbled hearts that we returned home to our abundantly rich lives. We both realized how blessed we were that there was room in the inn for us on this cold winter’s night. We were, indeed, the ones who were in the most need of understanding those so much less fortunate than ourselves.
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Is your MIND FULL of old thoughts or new?