Breath of Life

Cape Town Letters: An Open Letter to my Bishop and all my friends

Dear Bishop Swanson,

lifeGrace and Peace to you from Cape Town, South Africa.  It was on my list of things to do to write you and all those who support me this past weekend.  There is a writing I still must do, but I am delaying it to write this instead.  My life unfolded this past week in a way that made me catch my breath and so I am compelled to share.

On Monday I had an appointment and so I called a driver I am friends with to transport me.  He asked me if I would ride somewhere with him first.  I was not really sure what to think, for he had never asked me something like this before.  He took me to a road that he had been driving on a couple of days before where he had witnessed a little girl killed.  He said he saw the whole thing moving before him like a train.  He could see the Mercedes speeding down the road and see the girl and he knew she would not make it across.  He shared with me how he saw her body crushed and her blood in the air and it is what haunts him now in the day and in the night.

He told the story so carefully that I could see it in my own mind.  Because I didn’t know the girl and what she looked like, I found myself replacing her with little girls I did know, recognising how easily this very thing could happen to any one of them.  I asked him if we could breathe deep breaths in and deep breaths out, remembering the gift of life, and then the two of us sat quietly for a moment.  I prayed words over the life of a little girl I never knew, the driver of the Mercedes who killed her, and my friend whose mind was held captive by the witnessing of this tragedy.  People are killed every day in South Africa, people are killed every day all over this beautiful world, so often in incredibly tragic ways.  Yet, there was something about this story of a little girl killed on a main road that has worked in me, reminding me how important it is for us to remember that speed kills.

There is a speed to which we address life in this day and age that leads to a sickness in our spirits.  Speed inhibits our ability to see the beautiful right in front of us and we move right along wholly unaware of the precious opportunities that exist for us to absorb. Untouched layers of life that are the joy and the mystery we seek go unearthed for the speed at which we pass them by.  There is a much that is too much that we are moving towards and in our race–the magnificent comes to an invisible demise without us ever knowing it.

There is a beautiful word here in South Africa, found in the Zulu language, “Sawubona.”  It means, “I see you.”  In response, one would say, “Ngikhona” which means I am.  As one is seen, they are.  The languages of the world teach us about the people and what is important to them.  It is important to see and be seen.  As our eyes touch each other our lives touch.  It is important for us to see and be seen, to have our lives touch the lives of others, and to allow  the change that is born through these interactions that are our God given dance of reality.

This morning I walked much slower on my way to work and I looked directly into the eyes of the people I came across.  A man this morning told me my eyes were smiling and I told him that my grandfather always told me that I was the only angel he knew who had the devil dancing in her eyes and he laughed hard and said, “yes, yes…your eyes they have the dance of mischief in them.”  It was a good way to start the morning, laughing.  It was also good to see and be seen on my way to work by a human being whose eyes danced with mischief just as he described mine to.  I found myself thinking of him through out the day.

Soon, I know I will slip into a quicker rhythm.  It will happen without me thinking about it, but I am working on remembering that life is but breaths one woven into the next.  I was fifteen minutes late for my appointment yesterday, for sitting with a beautiful person who was broken over the loss of a little girl’s life.  The world did not end for my fifteen minutes late to take those breaths with him.  Yet, there is a speed out there we are being tempted toward and in the spiral onward we become a part of a machine that has no space for breaths that we must take in order to live the beautiful in our life.  The machine we become a part of with our speed is the machine that kills breath.

I hope that those who take the time to read this will entertain a moment today to breathe in deeply and breathe out and remember what a beautiful precious gift we are afforded with our one wonderful life.  Don’t waste it friends, live your life seeing and being seen.  I am so very thankful for all of you in my world.  I am overwhelmed when I realize the love that surrounds me in all of you.  Thank you for staying with me on the journey.

With love from South Africa,

Michelle

***To help support my ongoing ministry in South Africa, donations can be made on the giving link on my blog.

The Flight of the South African Blue Swallow…

 

Postage stamp South Africa 1998 Blue Swallow, Bird

SOUTH AFRICA – CIRCA 1998: a stamp printed in South Africa shows Blue Swallow, Hirundo Atrocaerulea, Bird, circa 1998

During my first visit to South Africa, I fell in love with one of the most beautiful birds, the South African Blue Swallow. Sadly, the Blue Swallow, so full of grace and beauty is also the bird on the top of the endangered bird species list in South Africa. There are many factors for their fragile state of existence, but the experts say the greatest factor is that the grasslands and wetlands that are their natural habitat are under threat. The Blue Swallow resides in the Kwa-Zulu Natal area, but can be spotted in various parts of the country. There is believed to be less than 100 of this species left in South Africa. Every time I see a Blue Swallow I am reminded of the fragility of habitats and I am reminded of the interconnected nature of us all.

The way we live on this earth impacts the life span of other species that God called us to share this space with and our lifestyle also impacts the quality of life for the future generations of our children. How much water we utilize, the way we eat, the resources like paper that we consume, all have a marked impact on the earth’s ability to sustain itself. As the South African Blue Swallow flies gracefully into its unknown reality, the beauty of the bird challenges me to take flight in my own life recognizing the ways in which I am a part of the eradication of habitats around the world.

On my left shoulder, I have flying in tattoo form, the South African Blue Swallow. My journey with them helped me to recognize the importance of protecting not just the habitats of creatures, but also our own. The spiritual habitat that is our center can so easily be thrown off course leaving us under threat. Busy-ness, lists of great opportunities that seem the thing to do, distractions of every kind are before us. Yet, we are called to be still and know God. In prayer, meditation, moments of solitude, and fascination with God’s word we are reborn again and again into creatures that in our lives might take beautiful graceful flight, much like my friend the Blue Swallow.

swallows in flight

Our flight can take us wherever we want to go. God allows such freedom in our lives.   Yet, the hope is that in our flight we will move in response to a sense of God’s guidance drawing others to the interconnected nature of us all. The way I live my life directly impacts the experience of others. What I choose to see and not see colors the ways in which I chart my course. My hope is that through out the living of my days my eyes will be open for what God needs me to learn and that the choices I make will lead to better life for all God’s children and the creatures upon this earth, whose beauty dazzles my gaze.

Sometimes when I see the Swallow impressed on storefront windows, I can hear the message I know is their song, “Please listen.  Please hear me.  I am trying to sing to you with my song that I am under threat, I am under threat, I am under threat.”  “I hear you sweet Blue Swallow. I hear you,” I find myself saying through tears watering my eyes.  Please listen to the cries of God’s creatures who because of our lifestyles live under threat and work this Lenten season to make small changes in your life.

To learn more about the swallow, and ways you can support conservation of their fragile habitat, follow this link: http://www.ewt.org.za/species%20factsheets/Blue%20swallow.pdf

To view a list of 100 ways to conserve water: http://wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/

For ways to work to make your church in South Africa more environmentally friendly:  www.safcei.org

With you on the journey,

Michelle Shrader

*Support for my salary can be received  through the donation button on this blog site.  It will lead you to the United Methodist Advance website which is an online giving resource facilitating the support of mission work all around the world.  Check it out!

 

Our Dislocated Body

south-tampa-mapIt is important in life to know where you are from. I spent most of my childhood years in a beautiful city named Tampa, Florida. Tampa is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the best café con leche in the world, and four roads that remind me of my privilege in life. The area I lived in was called South Tampa. The northern boundary of South Tampa is Kennedy Boulevard, Gandy is to the South, Westshore to the–west, and Bayshore to the east. If you go too far east or west, you will find yourself swimming in water. Most people who have lived in South Tampa for a significant period of time were told at one point in their lives to never go past Kennedy or Gandy, for nothing of need is beyond those borders.  I found over the years that this was not true.

South Tampa Simba

Prior to my life as a Pastor, I served in the public school systems as a Speech & Language Pathologist. The first position I held was across the Northern boundary of South Tampa. Many of the children were the children of migrant farm workers. I remember doing language evaluations and being shocked how many of the children were missing the same word—bathtub. After several home visits, I realized the reason for this. Most of the families lived in make shift houses that did not have bathtubs. Some lived in homes with no floors. The children were allowed to wash themselves in the water fountains at the school for the administration knew they had nowhere to bathe. I could not imagine there were children in my own country living in these conditions. This would not be allowed where I was from.

After returning from graduate school, I took my second position in Tampa and it was in a school across the Southern boundary Gandy. This school was home to children primarily from low-income African American families. I remember being surprised over and over again by how many parents were working 2-3 jobs to support their families.   I also remember the school breaking ground on its new library and the shelves sitting empty for the longest time. I really wrestled with this because I just couldn’t understand how these vast divides in my community existed.  A library would not have stood empty in a school where I was from.

I am who I am today because of the way these opportunities to serve shaped me. I did not have everything I needed on the inside of the South Tampa boundaries for real community happens when we cross the lines that divide us, however those lines begin to form.dislocated potatohead  So often, the human body is dislocated from one another. We are separated by boundaries, we live at a distance from one another, and our sense of community lacks because of this. We understand who we really are when we see life in relationship with neighbors we live distanced from. Race divides us, economics divide us, sexuality divides us, language divides us, faith tradition divides us, experience and education divide us, and privilege or lack of privilege divides us as a people.

Honestly, I have to share that it is much easier to cross streets that divide us, then to recognise that there is no journey that I can go on that will erase the privilege that lives in me.  The only thing I can do is to continue to learn about these divides and fight for others to have the same privileges as me.

What might it look like for us to study the maps that contain the dividing lines and begin to work more intentionally to break them down?

With you on the journey,

Michelle Shrader

***Salary Support for my Individual Volunteer in Mission work can be received through this blog.  The donation button will lead you to the United Methodist Advance–an online giving mechanism that allows you to donate tax deductible monies towards mission engagements all around the world.  Check it out!

 

 

My Black Baby Doll…

My black baby dollWhen I was three years old, my Mother took my brother and I to a toy store to pick out any toy we wanted. I picked out a black baby doll and I didn’t want any other doll for years.  For the longest time in my adult years, I believed that this choice was demonstrative of my innate wiring as a reconciler, but something brought me to ask my mother if she had any idea why I would have made that choice. Her response blew my theory about myself out of the water. She alerted me to the fact that I was taught to love black people, by my exposure as a child.

My parents left my brother and I in the care of my Native American uncle and his African American wife when I was two years old. I have no memory of this time, but according to my mother, I didn’t want to come home when they came to pick me up. My uncle was ostracized from the family for marrying across the racial lines and I have only seen him one other time since. My mother believes that when I saw the baby doll in the store, it reminded me of the other part of my family tree.  Oppression of black people by Native Americans did not make sense to me, but others have helped me to understand that we pass on our own pain even when it doesn’t make sense.

I was asked once what my first memory of race was. My answer is hard. My first memory of race is when I arrived to my grandparent’s house on the other side of the family with that baby doll. I remember not fully understanding what was going on, but feeling protective of that doll, for it seemed like my grandfather was mad at her or me? He asked what I was doing with a black baby doll and I drew her closer. Before I knew it, the tension was gone, but I remember that moment more than I even remember the doll, for my grandfather had a way of making me feel like I was the reason the stars hung in the sky and that day I felt like he was disappointed in me.

“Did you swallow a dollar and break out in pennies?” he would say when I got freckles in the summer. “You are the only angel I know who has the devil living in her eyes…” was something I heard frequently and so often I would arrive to their home with old underwear for I was quite independent and wanted to pack for myself and he would say, “Well aren’t you holy?” That was my grandfather. I loved him so much. Yet, I am no different than most, I learned about race and how to distinguish myself from others by people I love.

Over the years I have learned that many people are fine with those who are another race as long as they stay in what is believed to be their place. I think that was the issue years ago. I don’t worry much about my grandfather today; today I worry more about me. The place thing is still an issue. We allow ourselves to be divided by place. We allow ourselves to believe there are people who hold characteristics that make them better than others and others who because of color, class, or whatever we decide are not good enough, beautiful enough, whatever enough.  If we only could learn that the DNA of who we are as people translates to nothing more than children of God.  Love for ourselves, God, and others requires an understanding of place.  Our place is struggling to live together within our family, the entire human race.

with you on the journey,

Michelle

*Salary support can be received through the donation button on this blog.

To be known…

 

Part of my practice of finding my way in Cape Town is to invest in the businesses around me and to walk up and down some of the streets every day. I get my haircut at the salon on the corner; I eat regularly at the restaurants right around me. I grab coffee daily from a café right near the church. Eventually something began to happen. Instead of waiting for me to order, the barista reaches for the mug I bring with me as I walk in. The servers in the restaurant run out on the street to say, “hello” when they see me. My hairdresser gave me a bottle of wine the other day because I listened to him. I find I am beginning to be known.

There was a moment a couple of months ago where I struggled with the way I was known and it has caused me to begin to shift my priorities a bit. Some pastors came together for what they call mission week. It is when they go to another area to serve to learn about life in another part of the country. We led a soccer camp with some of the kids. I was sitting with some of the younger ones talking to them when two of them said, “we know you.” I assumed they meant from church. I asked them, “do you know me from when I visited Sunday school?” “No,” they said, “Long Street.” Long Street is similar to Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The kids knew me from Long Street because that is where they spend time trying to get some extra money begging and they saw me walking every day.

I looked at the kids more closely and realized I did know them. These same kids have been asleep on the sidewalk in front of the church. I saw them at a banquet the Church had out on the street where 500 people were fed. I sat with them just the other day and asked them as many questions as I could to just be in conversation with them and before I left, they gave me a hug and I found myself at a loss. They have a place to sleep. Yet, they choose sometimes to be on their own. In the midst of conversations with them, I have been more invested in the Children’s Ministry at the Church. The gift is that CMM is invested in this as well. There are a couple of lay people who have agreed to help lead a conversation on how we can build a sustainable ministry and I believe when we get the two and three together, God will surprise us with plans.

My hope is that we can build a ministry that will last. In the midst of praying about the way forward, what was affirmed for me was hope for the future. I have always dreamed of a better day and pointed people towards it. In the midst of the pointing and the dreaming, people rise and they find their place in the building. This is what has been happening. Several lay people have sat with me to begin to plan how to strengthen the church’s ministry to young people. It is the work of this generation to build a better tomorrow for the next and so, this is my story of light from 2015—that there is a beginning and one that brings me hope not just for the children, but for those who say, “yes” to the building of a better tomorrow.

As we enter this New Year, I give thanks for those of you who hold me in God’s radiant light.  I have been in Cape Town for six months now.  In some ways this is a long time and in other ways I feel as if I am just breathing in the new life that is opening for me here.  Mainly because of answered prayer.  I asked some of you to pray that I might find people to commit to the journey with me.  People who will ask the question of how it is with my soul and care for me well.  It is what we all need.  Just last week, three people committed naming it as a need they had as well.  I have also finally found a spiritual director.  It is a gift to have someone committed to leading you into the place of rest in the Spirit and I am thankful, thankful, thankful to those of you who prayed with me as I searched to find the right one.  May this year unfolding be one where you find strength for a deeper walk and a fuller love being born in you.

With you on the journey,

Michelle

***Salary support can be received through the donation button on this blog site.  You will be directed to the United Methodist Advance–a tax deductible way of supporting mission work around the world–check it out!

Serving in Solidarity with…

1466155_10151898720616696_657282562_n

Normally, I would be writing with lots of stories to share, but I would like to ask you to wait just a bit longer for them and engage in an advent/New Year is almost here reflection of sorts…

This is the question I am living with for 2016:

             “What does it mean to serve in solidarity with?”

The picture above was taken in 2013 at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary.  The chalice we are holding was a gift I brought to the seminary that year.  Painted on the chalice is the image of a hull of a boat and a cross.  It is the symbol for Duke Divinity School, but not one they hold exclusively, for the symbol represents the Church at work in the world.  The gift was to symbolise a covenantal relationship established years ago between the two institutions and I am here in South Africa because that covenant is alive in me.

When I look at this picture of myself and Luba, the student holding the chalice, I am thankful for the gifts of opportunity that have brought me back to the seminary time and again, for I have been able to witness great leaders like Luba who will serve this country and this world that belongs to all of us well.  I am extremely passionate about work that rises up not just leaders, but great leaders and not just here, but all around the world!

This passion was birthed around the time the millennium development goals were released through the United Nations.  I was part of a young adult leadership program training us in how to work towards the goals that were set.  I was to work on Education and there was a guy from the Congo sitting next to me.  He has taught me so much over the years.  Yet, this would not have been possible without the work of that program in building a platform of trust between the two of us for he really hated Americans.  He had this way of expressing disgust in a french accent that still makes me laugh!

I have been reflecting on that time because I am learning so much here about the realities for pastors in South Africa.  It is a hard reality that there are pastors in South Africa who have so many congregations that they might see one of them only four times a year.   What does it mean for me to be in solidarity with them?  I want the sweat of these days I am here to live on the pages of my life and so I wanted to share with you how important it is for us to understand the long and sometimes laborious work of building trust.  My hope is that the pastors here will trust me with their stories and trust me to serve among them.

Trust was important enough to God that the skin of  life was taken on, in order that we might trust in the way that leads to life.

I hope you will reflect on the issue of TRUST this advent season and work to bridge the divides wherever you experience them.  It might be in your relationship with God, a family member, or one that crosses a divide that feels to you like an ocean.  What does it mean for us to serve with one another wherever we are in solidarity?  

With you on the journey,

Michelle

Donations towards my salary support can be made through the donations link on this blog.  

Meeting Relatives

There are moments in life that are so beautiful that they bring tears to your eyes. This past Friday evening I attended a lecture put on by the Healing of Memories Institute that was held in the District Six Homecoming Centre. The Institute was starteFather Lapsleyd by a man named Father Lapsley, whose work I have followed for years. During the apartheid years here in South Africa, he would have been a voice speaking against the regime. He received a letter bomb that blew off both his hands and damaged his eyes.  Later, his work began to focus on bringing people in South Africa together to tell their stories and share their trauma.

When Bishop McDonald, the presenter for the evening, greeted us he used the language of the Cree people.  I had never heard that language spoken aloud, but that is the language of my grandfather’s and therefore my people.  My grandfather’s family migrated from Canada to Montana.  The story is told that my grandfather was riding cross country by train and stopped off at a small North Carolina town named Pembroke.  He met my grandmother, a Lumbee Indian, fell in love instantly and never got back on the train.  So, in my veins runs the blood of both the Lumbee and Cree.

Bishop McDonald shared the stories of the Indian residential schools for Native American children in CanadaBishop Mark McDonald. They have been charged with actually being extermination camps because of the high mortality rate. They had a 69% death rate and children reported sexual and physical abuse. “The schools had graveyards, not playgrounds,” shared Bishop McDonald. As I listened to the stories, memories of my grandfather who died when I was six years old were flooding my mind. These stories were stories of wrongs done to his people.  Yet, I knew him well enough to know that he lived making sure wrongs were done to no people.

It was a very strange moment to be a US citizen sitting in the District Six Museum listening to stories of my roots being traced right before me. Tears literally welled up in my eyes. I had arranged for a taxi to pick me up after the event and they went to a different location, so I was waiting out on the street as the crowd began to die down.  A group from inside came to stand with me as I waited for the Taxi. They were some of the Khoi Chiefs of South Africa who had been participating in a healing of memories retreat prior to the lecture. I shared with them that my grandfather was one of the Cree people and they told me they learned a practice of the Cree that was to make a relative of everyone you meet. They invited me to attend an event they were having later in the year and when we parted ways, I felt overwhelmed by the gift of being in the right place at the right time.

My grandfather was someone who never knew a stranger.  He lived with love for all people.  I am thankful that my roots trace back to him and challenged in my own life to mirror the Cree Practice that sounds so much like Jesus’ call to love our neighbor.

walter_pinchbeck

Walter Pinchbeck

My Grandfather

Fault Lines

Seismologists are those who study the quakes that occur in the earth — earthquakes. There are many reasons for the occurrence of earthquakes, but one of them is movement along a fault line — or crack underneath the earth’s surface.

Seismologists work to predict earthquakes by tracing the activity of seismic waves or pings of energy that vibrate out as the plates begin to shift along a fault line or crack in the rocky ground beneath us. Throughout the course of human history, prophets have served in this same capacity for the people of God. The voices of the prophets name for us the places in our life together where there are cracks.
2015-08-09-Womens-Day-ProtestersOn August 9, 1956, 20,000 women marched in opposition to the pass laws in South Africa. The pass laws were an internal passport system limiting the movement of black Africans.  As the women marched, they held in their hands over 100,000 signatures opposing this law that was one of the evils of the apartheid system that was the fault line of the day — the crack that was killing true community. As the women protested, they sang a song and the words translated to, “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.” This phrase now represents the courage and strength of women in South Africa. Today and tomorrow, South Africans will honour all women as we celebrate National Women’s Day.

There are fault lines beneath us in our life together still today. What might the women of 1956 and the prophets of old have to say to the reality that 1 in 3 women worldwide will suffer some sort of violence in their lifetime and that more than 57% of the women in South Africa who are murdered are murdered by a loved one?  What might they have to say about the racial violence in my own country?

The women of 1956 demonstrated with their march the need for us to gather around the places where there areLydia Women's Day March cracks in our life together as children of God. Injustices need to be named and work must be done to make right the fault lines that shift beneath our feet.  This afternoon I found myself in a sea of women marching the streets of Cape Town naming the injustices of the day.  As I looked around me, I found myself encouraged by the strength of the women as they marched together.  I found hope rising as I listened to the young people singing songs calling out for change.  God convicted me once again of the ways in which God’s people can indeed sing a new song together that transcends our divides! For real change to occur, we must actually reach across the divides in this world and find ourselves bridging those seismic gaps–not just with our words, but in the way we choose to live our lives!

Question for reflection: Take some time to name the fault lines or cracks in the world where injustice exists. What might you do to stand and name these injustices like the women of 1956?  How might your life change because of what is stirring inside of you?

*To support my ministry, please see the link for giving on the home page of my blog.

With you on the journey,

Michelle

Home…

Home for me for the next three years is a land called South Africa—a city called Cape Town. It is a stunning city with beautiful people and landscape and at the same time a place where the divide between the rich and the poor is one of the greatest in the world. Though it is a place I have visited regularly, there is so much for me to learn.  There is an area of Cape Town named District Six. The residents of District Six were forcibly removed from their homes during the Apartheid years and the District Six museum tells the story of these people.

District 6

Hanging on the wall of the museum is Noor Ebrahim’s story. He talks about releasing his prized racing pigeons when he and his family found their way to their new neighborhood. When the pigeons did not return he went to check their old home. This is what he shares, “As I drove past the now empty plot that used to be my home in Caledon Street, I saw a sight which shook me to my core: my pigeons, all 50 of them, were congregated on the empty plot where our home had stood. Getting out of my car, I walked over to where the pigeons were. Very surprisingly, they did not fly away, but looked into my eyes as if to ask: “Where is our home?” Apartheid displaced even the pigeons…

There are pigeons that have built a nest in the ceiling of Central Methodist Mission where I serve in Cape Town.  They can be pests flying around in the middle of sermons and such, but they bring a smile to my face mainly because they remind me of our call to love all God’s creatures.  I will love them more now knowing the story of the District Six pigeons–for many of our members worshipped in the church that is now the District Six Museum during the Apartheid years.  I pigeonam thankful there is a God that beckons us all to come home just as Noor Ebrahim beckoned his pigeon’s home.  I am finding my way with God in Cape Town and soon will have more stories to share, but wanted you to know I am thankful to all of you who travel so faithfully with me in life.

With you on the journey,

Michelle

*On line support for my ministry in Cape Town can be received through donation button at top of blog

May God Bless you and Keep you!

Kwangathi uNkulunkulu anganibusisa futhi ikugcine means “May God bless you and keep you” in the Zulu language. It is the first line of a prayer that I have learned in the native language of every country I have visited. I learn it in order that I might bless people I meet along the way…people I might not ever see again.

May the Lord bless and keep you;
Make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you (Numb 6:24-26)
until we meet again one day.

These words do not translate perfectly into the Zulu language, but I shared them everywhere I went while serving in South Africa for a summer years ago. I have found the words comforting on this day.

Today is Palm Sunday in the life of the Christian Church. It is the first day of Holy Week marking the day that Jesus begins what is known as his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Today was also my last Sunday at Myers Park United Methodist Church—a place that has formed and shaped me during this last chapter of my life in ways that I hope will leave me better able to serve in the coming chapters of my life. On my last Sunday in this community,  I release the words of this blessing to any who read this, I also want to share with you the way we can be blessed by people who pass through our lives like a breeze rustling the leaves on a tree…

I had my first garage sale last weekend. I would never have imagined a garage sale could be a spiritual event, but it was. The hardestIMG_0256 things for me to release for this preparation to move to another country were things that were made for me by people from other countries. I had a basket woven for me by a woman in South Sudan. I hoped the right person would take it. Wouldn’t you know a woman from Somalia bought not just the basket, but everything I had from Africa. She shared with me that her family could not bring anything with them when they moved to this country and that her grandmother made baskets just like the one I had. She ran her fingers over it lovingly and tole me it would make her happy.

May God bless you and keep you…

There was another woman who could not believe how cheap I was selling all my stainless steel kitchen appliances. I shared with her that I hoped to bless others with the things that had been a gift to me. She purchased all of the small appliances and then she shared with me she was starting over for having been the victim of domestic violence.  She asked me if I might pray with her since I was a pastor. She returned later to help me clean my kitchen with two other ladies from the neighborhood who had shopped with me. I was amazed that they would want to help me clean, but they told me they knew that I needed help.

May God bless you and keep you…

Blessings come when we least expect it and they pour out over periods of time in ways that we can not predict or imagine.  I have been blessed during this Charlotte chapter of my life. There are things I have loved like the way the trees dip to greet each other as I drive down Providence road or how seasons all take a turn saying “hello”.  I love the seasons even though my toes are never prepared for the cold. I have loved the philanthropic nature of the community here and the welcoming spirit of everyone I have met. I have loved the opportunity to serve in ways that have left me changed and the opportunity to learn more about myself and the ways I still need to change. There has been much to love. So dear ones in Charlotte, know that as you travel through Holy week, I will be traveling quite literally on the road.  When I arrive in worship on Easter morning, know that my prayer for each of you will be…

May God bless you and keep you…

With you on the journey,

Michelle

e-mail: livinfully247@gmail.com

Donations for Mission Support: Follow link on right

%d bloggers like this: