Today was Love Feast: part 2. Several weeks ago, during my prayer time, I had the idea to have a love feast for the shelter we’ve been volunteering at. The leaders agreed that it was a good idea, and it was a go! Woo! So we planned and prayed and set a date with the shelter…and then a hurricane came along. Hmm.
I think a year ago I would have probably thrown in the towel. A hurricane is a perfectly legitimate reason to not hold an event, particularly one in a semi-outdoor area. (Our location was the common area for the shelter, which is mostly a glorified pavilion.) But there were just too many things that God had already pulled off to make it happen. One of our teammates’ good friends contacted her a week or two ago telling her that she wanted to donate her birthday to our team for ministry; i.e. she asked her friends to give us money rather than get her gifts. We pulled in over $1000 from that alone, which opened the door for us to hire a caterer instead of having to prepare food for 30 people ourselves. Then we told the caterers that we wanted tacos, which they normally didn’t make but decided to just for us, and that we couldn’t pay them until the day of. No problem, apparently. And we wanted this ice cream truck to come do dessert for us, but had no way to contact them. Then we were driving up to a place pretty off our beaten path one day and just happened to see them on the side of the road. And just yesterday, when we stopped at the shelter to hash out a few final details, we were encouraged to find that the residents were actually looking forward to the event. That was probably the most encouraging thing for me, because my biggest fear was that it would end up being a group of reluctant old people who were just there because it was raining and there was nowhere else to be. But no, they were excited. So it was clear that God, at least, still planned on their being a love feast. Also, several of our team members felt like He was telling them yesterday that if we prayed, He would take care of the weather.
So we prayed. And prayed. And PRAYED. And it rained. And rained. And RAINED. I have never seen anything like this rain. We’ve gotten nearly four feet in Pahoa in the past three days. FOUR FEET OF RAIN. (On a side note, I have no idea where it goes. We’ve gotten four feet of rain, but every time it stops for even a short while, everything dries out. No flooding, no nothing. Ummm? Pray for Hilo though. They’re quite flooded.) So last night during our prayer hour, I was getting pretty mad. I was like, “GOD, WHY DO WE EVEN PRAY?!?!” He gently reminded me that the hurricane that had been a category 5 two days ago had been downgraded to a tropical storm and was now dissipating and headed out to sea without having ever made landfall. “Ok. Fine. But IT’S STILL RAINING. There’s still flooding! WE HAVE A LOVE FEAST TOMORROW!” And quietly, He asked, “What are you angry about?” And…I wasn’t really sure. Could we still do the love feast, even in the rain? Yes. Would we? Yes. Was I aware of any loss of life or severe property damage due to this storm? No. I was mostly just angry that He wasn’t doing what I wanted. That He wasn’t dramatically stopping the storm on my command. “Would you just trust me?” Ok. I’ll trust.
After that, I had probably one of the best prayer times of my life. God just started speaking to Gilly and I, and I was filled with so much thankfulness for this incredible team I’m on, and how amazingly He’s worked in us and with us throughout this outreach. The adversary has really thrown his full arsenal at us. Volcano? Check. Hurricane? Two. Emotional breakdowns? All around. Broken pipes? Yup. Hectic schedules? Yup. Lack of sleep? Hahahahahahahahahahaaaaa…yeah. Even distractions from home, both good and bad. But this team has persevered. We refuse to back down. We look into the circumstance and instead of caving shout, “NO! We will NOT hand this victory to the enemy!” We’re fighters. And we have fought and we have won, time and again, thanks to God. We’re coming to the end, we’ve reached the end of our own strength now, but praise the Lord now we’re on His strength, and it’s so much better than our own. So we get to stand up and fight again. We get to DECIDE that this ain’t over til it’s over. We prayed our hearts out, and I woke up this morning exhausted but with fire in my bones.
We were able to share with the team, and they caught the fire with a vengeance. The love feast was a go. It is amazing to have a team of people you can trust. I’ve always been afraid to delegate because I just don’t trust people to do things as well as me. True confessions. In real life, they frequently do things just as well as me, but just not how I would do them. But I trust this crew, so I gave out assignments, took mine, and we went to town. And it rained.
It was a very long, very soggy day. All of us were somewhere between damp and drenched for at least 5 hours today. I’m pretty sure everything went wrong. We started a brief electrical fire. About every other balloon that we filled up burst (it was a very alarming couple of hours). The shelter started leaking in several places, and sometimes it would get windy and the rain would blow in. But it was SO worth it. The residents of this shelter saw the love of God in action today, and it captured them. And honestly, I think the rain brought it home for them even more. Why would this group of young people come out in this torrential rain and spend three hours pouring into them? Why would we spend our money on not just good, but excellent food? Why would we track down an ice cream truck for them? Why would we spend our time painting them individualized pictures and writing unique words for each of them? (Side note: our team leader Kristina is an incredible painter and is the real hero of the day since she literally stayed up the ENTIRE NIGHT painting 21 pictures that were individualized to each person.) Why would we not only share our talents with them, but want to let them share theirs with us? I think it was the first time any of them had experienced anything like it. And they had FUN! They were smiling and laughing the entire time. Several of them were in tears at one point or another. One made a very tender thank you speech. Another had a long chat with one of us…completely unable to fathom the love she saw us exhibiting. Even other side things were amazing. The whole family who owned the ice cream truck showed up, and they pretty much needed a love feast too. We were able to bless them generously and just pour into them for about an hour and a half too. They got dinner and sat with us and listened and talked and laughed and heard the gospel. It was amazing.
The gospel was not preached tonight (at least not to the group), but it was lived, and it was poignant. They felt it. Not a-one went home untouched. I actually feel really privileged to have been part of it. It was really really beautiful. And fun 🙂 God is so cool. He’s so good. So tender. So funny. He can make things happen, rain or shine. We just need to trust that He actually knows what He’s about.
It’s still raining. Reeeeeaally hard.
Let it rain.