my babies

my babies

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mission Trip

I went on my first real short term mission trip this weekend.  We left Early Thursday morning and returned late Sunday night.  We went to Cleveland, Ohio.  Now you may ask yourself...What??  Cleveland??  People there know all about Jesus.  But guess what???  (you are wrong)  This trip was amazing.  We got there on Thursday afternoon and the house we were staying in had some huge plumbing issues and was so not ready for 18 women.  No men, either.  So we rolled up our sleeves and pitched in and got that house ready!  Mattresses on the floors.  Beds have not come in yet.  Dishes washed and put in cabinets.  Curtains hung.  Floors swept and mopped.  Bathrooms cleaned.  We ate a light supper, had a debriefing meeting (I love that word....debriefing...makes me feel like I am in the FBI or CIA) and went to bed.  Friday was a big day.  We got up with the sun and went to work on the outside.  Oh we, mulched and pulled weeds, pressure washed, painted, pulled up shrubs and trees, laid rock, planted flowers and generally worked like dogs.  We were a filthy mess.  So 18 women used two bathrooms to get all prettified for our night.  We split into four groups to go to some refugee houses.  Two groups went to Iraqi households and two went to Congolese households.  I went to a family from the Congo.  These refugees speak little if any English and we were to eat an authentic meal with them.  This was a stretching exercise.  I call it a trust and faith exercise.  Let's just say that I am not a fan of Congolese food.  But the family was precious and so sweet and happy to be here.  I don't know if they know Jesus but they did pray before the meal (in French) and allowed us to pray for them when we left.  On Saturday we went to the market downtown.  I would give my eye teeth for a market like this in my hometown.  Every single meat, produce, baked goods, cheeses, milks, butters, was there in bulk and more.  It was amazing.  So much fun.  We got back to the house to start our whole reason for going.  We were ministering to the women from Unchained Love.  A group that helps house and rehabilitate women who are addicted to drugs, prostitution and work in strip clubs in the city.  We cooked them dinner and treated them to a spa night.  They were so surprised and just delighted.  We did manicures, pedicures, haircuts, make-up, massages and all kinds of beauty treatments.  They thought they were doing a community service project but were served instead.  And it was a joy.  I got to do manicures because I tend to talk.....a lot.  And talk I did.  I exchanged recipes, talked about our kids, grand kids, working in a school cafeteria and Jesus.  We didn't hit them over the head with Bibles.  There was no judgement.  Only one choice separated them from me.  One.  Shelley was 43 years old.  Addicted to heroin.  She had four kids she had not seen in three months.  Like me, she loved Elvis, wanted to go to Graceland and loved Conway Twitty.  She had never been out of Cleveland.  Never seen the beach but wants to so badly.  She broke my heart.  Covered with track marks and bruises.  she had been clean for about two weeks.  I am just praying she makes it.  She told me she loved me and I told her I loved her too.  I mean it, too.  I just fell in love with this women.  So desperate for love and hope.  I don't think anyone but each other are ever nice to these ladies.  So sad.  There was Lisa.  21.  She said.  She looked about 14.  When I held her tiny hands and rubbed lotion in them she looked at me and said I slipped up.  I saw the fresh track marks between her fingers.  Felt the hot swelling of her hand.  But she was going to go back to the house on Monday.  I am praying she does.  She has been a heroin addict since she was 12.  Twelve.  That's a baby.  Her sister is an addict too.  she left the house after being clean for 10 days because she missed her mama.  When she got home her mom had already left for the casinos with her boyfriend.  So she slipped up......mama, where were you????  We mama's gotta stick close to our babies.  Always.  The founder of the group, Unchained Love, is a former stripper, heroin addict and prostitute herself and knows firsthand how hard this life is to live and leave.  I left a piece of my heart in Cleveland.  I will never forget this gift that the Lord allowed me to experience.  These women have the weight of the world on their shoulders.  No hope, no love.  Only despair, addiction and a pit so deep they can't begin to get out alone.  They need Jesus.  I did take some pictures.  I did not get any of the girls.  that felt too invasive and rude to me to ask them.  they already thought I was this hillbilly with my southern twang!  They were just precious.

This was my room.  Notice I am the only one with a Pocahontas sleeping bag.

Side view of the house.  It will eventually house up to 70 people for Envision Cleveland.

View from the front

Bringing a little North Carolina to the big city!

This is sweet

Little Desday....this one was a real handful

There sweet mommy.

A couple of the guys at a fruit vendor at the market.  Those baby bananas were so good!

Anita, (in the green) the founder of Unchained Love.

Our group of very hardworking women.  I love these girls....