Who Are the People In Our Neighborhood?

Tapestry AltarOnce again we went out to meet some neighbors. I don’t recall if I mentioned this in my last post, but I have decided to hire, very part-time, a latina woman who has strong community ties and who has much experience in community organizing. I am a white woman, and though I am fluent in Spanish, it is important to have someone from the community. Today another woman who has been worshiping with us at Tapestry is going to join us as we go out again!

So, who are the people in our neighborhood? We met a mechanic who works out of his garage. His sister has a daughter who was brave enough to sing at a park in Bloomington karaoke-style, and we were fortunate enough to be able to see the video of this! The conversation started somewhat cautious as we approached them by their garage (we don’t knock on doors~we talk to people we encounter out and about). The conversation was pretty general. We talked about what they like about the community and asked if they have any concerns. We asked about kids and then their faces lit up and the conversation shifted. It’s amazing what kids can teach us even when they’re not there. We don’t bring literature with us, just lemonade and cookies, and if people ask, we let them know where we worship and when. These people asked by the end of the conversation. Will they join us? I can’t answer that, but we have made a small connection in our community and we got to see the pride of parent/uncle for their child.

We also stopped by the bus stop again. The people there didn’t want any lemonade or cookies, but they apparently did want some conversation. We learned about a gentleman who had worked many years at Macy’s but has now retired so he volunteers at a place in Minneapolis. That’s where he was headed and he was going to give tours. He gets subsidized housing because he’s unemployed and possibly a senior citizen, which means for him he pays a little under $200 for the apartment whose market rent is about $750. He has lived in the same apartment for 15 years! And the woman who was there arrived from Chicago just two months ago where she was a postal worker. Too many layoffs and uncertainty there. Her job now, though, means travel time each way of about two hours by bus. She works overnight as a caregiver and is happy to come home to Richfield where she feels safe enough to arrive at whatever time she gets there. She would like a job a little closer to home, though! And her grandson is looking forward for the pool to open so he can swim the next time he visits. She can’t worship with us Sundays because of her job, well actually her transportation to her job that takes so long, but we’ve made a connection and hopefully we’ll see each other again.

And then we met a gentleman who was also from Chicago and going there yesterday to surprise his sister for her birthday. He’s a military man with lots of deployments and stories to tell. He’s had to overcome a lot to be where he’s at now, including addiction and PTSD. He hasn’t had a church home for a long time, he said, though he says he needs one. He said he’d see us sometimes on a Sunday evening when he gets back from his trip to Chicago.

And we met another gentleman who is very concerned about all of the evil in our world. He’s also afraid of God and God’s punishment though he tries to do good. We heard about his concerns and his fears for this world. He talked for quite awhile and told us about his understanding of some parts of the Bible. And he told us again he is afraid of this just God. I reminded him that God is just AND merciful and that God loves us so much God sent Jesus to be with us and to live and die and rise for us so that our sins are forgiven. I blessed him and forgave him in the name of Jesus and marked him with the cross.

Now, I am an extrovert, so some of my friends will say this is all natural and normal for me. While it is true I am an extrovert, it is also true that this is not all natural and normal for me. I have to take a deep breath and take that first step and trust God is with us. It helps to have someone with me and I’m very excited there will be three of us today!

We don’t have an agenda other than to greet our neighbors and get to know them. And look how rich an experience all of these outings are. The Spirit is at work in us and in the world and what a blessing it is to be among God’s people in so many different and unexpected ways. Peace/Paz

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