Monday, August 26, 2013

The stuff reality shows (and the Kingdom of God) are made of

"You know, we decided they should make a reality TV show out of this trip!" Miss Ann laughed as she said this to my friend, Mandy, Friday at the park. "I'd watch it!" Mandy joked. "We'll let you know what episode you're starring in!" Miss Peggy bantered back. 

I'm pretty sure my very favorite thing in the world to do is invite amazing people into community and ministry life with me. And for the past five days, I got to host a ministry trip for four of my favorite ladies (including my mom!) from my home church in NC. They had heard so many stories about what God is doing here in Fort Wayne, that they just wanted to come up and see it for themselves, and be a part of it for a little while. 

These are no ordinary ladies, either! A reality show might be appropriate, given all the funny stories and moments we shared this week. They were so good-humored and quick-witted, we laughed almost the whole time they were here. 

I loved how, whenever I introduced Miss Gail, my friends would politely shake her hand, until I clarified, "This is Richard's mom," and since Richard is a favorite local hero around here from his summer adventures, each person's face would light up and they would say, "Oh! Richard's mom!" and fling their arms around her warmly. We all love Richard, so it is only natural that we'd love his mom as though she were our own. 

When I brought the four ladies to my college class, I told my students, "Now, one of these ladies is my mother - can you guess which one?" And they all pointed to Mom right away: "That's gotta be her! Same hair, same face, same smile!" 

One night a whole group of teen boys came over for dinner, and as soon as they saw Miss Peggy they adopted her as "Grandma." "And what about me?" Miss Ann said, "I'm a great-grandma!" "Yes," Peggy said, "she's greater than me!" 

They cleaned the Hobbit Hole and tended the garden and cooked all sorts of fun things... They met a lot of my friends and ministry partners and students and local family... They were teachers and learners, hosts and guests, grandmas and great-grandmas, researchers and story-tellers. And they delighted in every new thing they did, whether it was planned or spontaneous. 

It was so beautiful to me, how they jumped right in, waist-deep into community. They engaged every person they met, fully and with genuine joy, oozing with life and wisdom and light. At the same time, they were spunky and energetic and a little flamboyant, and I thought they seemed like little girls wrapped in women's clothing. And everyone could tell that God's love was their fuel... why else would women with grandchildren and great-grandchildren drive to Fort Wayne and throw themselves into an organic and unpredictable international ministry with a bunch of 20-somethings? Talk about a crazy adventure! I am so incredibly thankful for these women, and for the standards of faith and obedience they model for me and my friends.

This is the stuff that the Kingdom of God (and yes, really good reality shows) are made of.  

Helping small groups in my class at Ivy Tech

Grandmas serving dinner to the teen boys group

School shopping with Meng Pu's daughters

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