This was our first ROAM (RV’s on a Mission) project. We served there January through March of this year. Many times we wished we could have stayed longer, but we had another ministry site to go to.
We were greeted with this sign:
No better words can be used to describe the vision and work God is doing at this location and tells of the heart of Chuck and Renee Parish.
There is a board in a dedicated prayer room that casts the vision:
Gate #1 – Clothing Closet
Gate #2 – Food Pantry
Gate #3 – Community Garden
Gate #4 – Senior Center
Gate #5 – Home for Unwed Parents
Gate #6 – Home for Youth
Gate #7 – Thrift Store
It was humbling and exciting to play a small part in making a large impact to meet the needs of the local community.
We also got to see God working in the church, the mission and in Chuck and Renee’s life.
Mission: El Paso! has ministry partners who donate household, clothing, and other sundry items. The fellowship hall was the storage area for all the clothing items and the sanctuary was the holding place for all the other donated items. Everything that came in needed to be tested, checked for parts, or deemed wearable.
Build shelving along 3 sides of the fellowship hall
Wash, process, and label/store all the clothing
Move the items in the sanctuary into the fellowship hall for processing
Open up the sanctuary for services to start in the fall
Assist in collecting donations from ministry partners
Greg, in addition to some small repair and building projects in the church was tasked in building the shelves. They were 4 feet wide in 8-foot sections, 5 feet between the shelves.
Another project, that I suggested we add to the list of things was a laundry table large enough and with a good working height to process the large amount of incoming clothing quickly with sorting bins and an area for washing and folding.
The Clothing Closet was my focus. The room was already designated with shelves built along the wall, but it was being used as storage. The clothing in the fellowship hall was in boxes and bins and in piles under and over tables all waiting to be washed, sorted, labeled, and hung.
A little bit of before: (I didn’t think to take pictures when I started)
Clothing Closet, ready to open:
Things we prayed for and God answered:
Someone to repair the numerous bikes donated
Someone to step up and take over the clothing closet after we were gone
Funds to build the shelving units
Housing for Chuck and Renee
Impact on the community
Interest in attending the church once services start up
Immediate help as needed when Greg needed a second pair of hands building the shelves
We were humbled when someone stopped and asked to take the broken toys we were throwing out, because she said there is a school in Juarez where the kids would be thrilled to have them. Or when the mother of a volunteer, asked if she could take the items to her home area (also Juarez) because they have nothing and they make their homes out of cardboard boxes, so a little wear and tear on clothing means nothing to them…
It would be easy to overwhelmed by the dirt, desolation and concrete all around, but we found plenty of beauty:
In the people who are serving: Patricia who is taking over the clothing closet
In those who are being served:
Or in the scenery if you are looking:
We plan to go back next January and February (2022) and unless God takes us in another direction this will be a yearly trip. It will be exciting to see what God has in store for us and this ministry in the coming years.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
As I have stated before in previous posts, doing this was not a part of our plans, but we are loving where God has us in this season of our lives.
It was a year ago this week when our comfortably built suburban middle-class life took a new direction. We were living out our dream in a house we loved and had recently remodeled and had plans to retire in a few years.
I remember having a magnet on our refrigerator decades ago, when we were living in what I considered my dream home at that time, a big 1800’s 8-bedroom farmhouse in rural Vermont. One morning I happened to take special note of the magnet and read the words as I had so many times before:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
For some reason (God of course) I took notice of those words more significantly that day and with good reason. Our lives were turned upside down within a couple of days as God changed our direction and He knew I would need the reminder of those words. Oh my, I had no idea the journey God would take us on.
And so, it is now. Last year at this time a simple retirement discussion within a week became a calling to a new adventure. One we could not have imagined.
People remark, assuming that this was a lifelong dream of ours (living and traveling in a RV), that it must be nice to be doing so.
No, it was not our dream life
No, we did not plan on retiring for several more years
No, we never were going to sell our house
While it was not our dream, it was God’s dream for us. And…
Yes, we are loving it
Yes, we can’t imagine doing anything else at this time
Yes, we never could have dreamed this
We are currently serving at Mission: El Paso! in Texas and will be here 2 more months before moving on to another ministry project in Oklahoma. We come home tired, but it is a good tired. And we cannot see ourselves doing anything else.
So, what is God doing in your life? How open are you to a new direction?
As the year winds down and I reflect on this year:
Challenge of a pandemic
Realization of a new calling
Closing a treasured business and dream
Selling all our belongings
Leaving a nicely packaged well settled life
Moving to a nomadic life
My strong propensity for anxiety
It is no wonder God gave me the word “peace” for the year.
Long before I heard of or read the book, “One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, God was giving me a word for the year.
For years I had the habit of starting the new year with a new journal filled with detailed lists of my personal, physical, spiritual, relational goals.
One year when I sat down to pray and consider the next years goals, I hit a roadblock. The pages remained blank. Day after day. Other than the word “balance” that God was whispering in my heart. And thus, began my one-word journey.
The following year, I (notice the word “I”) decided to keep balance as my word because I did not feel as though I (again that self-centered word) did not do a very good job putting balance into my life. It was not until the 3rd year that I listened instead of deciding.
God gave me a new word.
Each year God give me a new word. Some years I find myself praying in November for the word, other years, He speaks in the depth of my soul before I even ask.
God knew before 2020 began what challenges were ahead. He knows my inner being and how even the normal daily happenings in life fill me with anxiety. He knew I would need to lean heavily on Him and focus on His peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Praying the Prince of Peace has filled you with peace to face your challenges this past year.
In the last post I talked about how our carefully laid plans for the next 1 ½ years was totally changed when God came in and swept them all aside in just a couple of days. And His sweeping continued because we continued to plan.
Since God seemed to push our plans up, we met with a realtor the next day. We now planned to sell the house later in the year and be on the road by late fall or early 2021. The realtor told us the things we would have to do to prepare the house to sell (stage, remodel, paint etc.) as selling a house today, is not at all what it used to be.
And it was overwhelming…
I was starting to panic…
The next day, Sunday, Greg was gone for a good part of the day and I did what I do best:
Cry and pray some more
And in all my worrying and fretting God was working…
On his way home Greg called and said, “Are you sitting down” (this statement was becoming a habit – read here -and he continued), “I just received a call from someone who wants to buy our house.”
So this was our week:
Monday we talk retirement ideas…
Tuesday God reveals ROAM…
Wednesday we plan out how it will look…
Friday Greg gives a 60-90 day notice instead of our plan of 18 months…
Saturday we talk with a realtor about listing the house in the fall…
Sunday we have an offer on the house…
The following Saturday we sign papers…
…And in all my worrying and fretting God was working.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Most believers know that many times we are painfully waiting on God to move, as it seems, to us anyway, that He is moving too slow.
Not this time.
One day we make the decision to work with ROAM, in a few years, when we are both retired. Our original long range plan was to work full time until 67 and then work part-time to 70. Illness forced me to retire early. Greg however planned to stay on course.
…Until that fateful week in late January
…One day we are figuring out what retirement will look like
…The next day God changes things
We both felt that we should move up our ROAM plans. So we…
…Did some number crunching
…And got it all figured out…
Greg would work until spring of 2021
We would save like crazy
That would provide healthcare coverage until we were 65
We would fix the house once Greg retires next year
Then put the house on the market summer of 2021
Hit the road full time fall of 2021
…Or so we thought
Later that week when he went back to work he was going to give an 18 month notice. On Friday when he was coming home I get a call. “Are you sitting down?” he asks. Then he tells me when he went in to give notice, and the words 60-90 days came out of his mouth instead of 18 months.
…God’s got this
So now what God?
Job 37:5God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.
Our crazy journey of going full-time as RVer’s has a purpose, while admittedly we know we can only see part of that, since God has a way of bringing so much more into anything and everything we do. If we let Him.
It is amazing that this even became part of our story:
Over a decade ago I had a temp employee who worked a few hours a week for me for a short time. In one of my conversations with her she shared that she also worked for an organization called ROAM (Rv’s on a Mission). I was curious and asked for a brief explaination.
…End of conversation
…Or so I thought
Greg was home sick for a week and in our many discussions we talked about what retirement might look like when he retired in a fews years.
Note, ” in a few years.”
In that discussion I remembered my conversation about ROAM and told him about it. He became excited. Very excited. After research we decided that it would be a good way to still serve and keep busy in our later years.
Note, “our later years.”
Little did we know what God was going to do that that conversation and move retirement up.
…Like right now up
Only God can take a forgotten seemingly insignificant conversation from years ago and change the course of your life.
Still serving, just in a different way, on the journey. Jackie
I Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Greg would say I am the Energizer Bunny with batteries that never die. Until a couple of years ago when illness put me flat on back with no energy for months. It’s been a long recovery and I’m still on that road.
So along comes a major move. From almost 3000 sq feet to 300 sq feet. Selling everything. Including closing up a busness. So in addition to the planning, purging and preparing to sell everything, there was the emotional toll of saying good-bye to a full life and business built over the past 2 decades. It was no easy task. It stalled me. My already depleted batteries didn’t want to charge.
So along came Kathy. I have a few close deep friends that I would lay down my life for and cherish to the depth of my soul. Kathy is one of those friends.
Every Saturday, and many week nights after work she would come. I’d tell her, “Don’t come, I don’t have the energy to do anything.”
She’d say, “That’s okay, I’m the hammer, just tell me what to do.”
So I did. And she did.
We cried, worked, shared memories, laughed, cried some more. Kathy made it possible for me to do the impossible.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother (or sister) is born for a time of adversity.
Blessed with sacrificial friends, on the journey, Jackie
When things go wrong as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill, When the funds are low and the debts are high And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you must, but don’t you quit. Life is strange with its twists and turns As every one of us sometimes learns And many a failure comes about When he might have won had he stuck it out; Don’t give up though the pace seems slow— You may succeed with another blow. Success is failure turned inside out— The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell just how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far; So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit— It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
This poem is in the public domain.
We’ve camped enough to know that your trailer is like your house or car. It needs maintenance and things can will go wrong. When we started talking about going full-time, it was with the understanding it would not be problem free.
We just didn’t expect to see a problem within an hour of heading out:
It’s supposed to look like this:
Needless to say, there was just a little panic, several calls, discussions, sighs and worries (on my part).
And this was just the beginning – but that is for another time.
I found this a week later in a store and thought it was a perfect response reminder.
Psalm 5:11But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
We didn’t sing for joy over this, but we saw God’s protection and provision. More on that as well in posts to come.
“When things go wrong as they sometimes will…” stay on the journey, Jackie