Tuesday, August 12, 2014

LOVE Week Part 2

One of the organizations that I fell in love with over LOVE Week was Emeritus at South Park.  This is a home for people with Alzheimer's and Memory Loss.  My beloved Dzaidzia has Alzheimer's and it kills me that I can't see him more.  It has been an emotional journey for all of my family watching him move from my aunt's house to his new assisted living home.  Since I'm not able to be there with him, I felt a connection to this home after I heard there were events there.  

  This is my Dziadzia :) 

I was able to lead two events here.  The first one was Baby Therapy.  We had about 12 kids ages 3 and under and were able to go and visit all of the residents.  There was one lady, Francis, who I was told never really engages with anyone let alone talks to anyone.  Well, when there are babies there, things were different.  She was asking them questions, playing with them and singing.  The staff there was amazed at how well she responded.  We got to all get together and sing with them, children and adults love to sing.  

Tuesday we got to paint pictures at Emeritus.  We had no idea how many artists we had in our volunteers and the people that live there!  We were able to have enough volunteers that everyone had a volunteer with them.  People painted together, shared stories, we celebrated a birthday, and just had fun.  

It was here that I met Micaela and her mom, Michelle.  They drove down all the way from Ohio to be a part of LOVE Week.  They discovered Elevation about two years ago and have been watching it on the Network for that long.  This spring Micaela and her dad came down to Charlotte to go to a race and visit our Blakeney campus.  While here, she met a VIP volunteer and they started talking about LOVE Week.  That volunteer offered to let her and her mom stay at her house for LOVE Week if they wanted to come down for it.  So, they came and served at multiple events every day.  

Our events here were simple, they didn't require a lot of planning or resources, however they impacted people profoundly.  They allowed these precious people to experience happiness and interact with others, it allowed parents to serve with their children and teach them the importance of serving others, and it allowed me to be there for someone else's grandfather who can't be there as much as they want to be.  

As you can see, he's still quite spunky. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

LOVE Week Part 1

This year Brian and I were able to both be off for the majority of LOVE Week.  This is an initiative through our church, Elevation, where we serve around 60,000 hours of community service throughout Charlotte for an entire week. We got to serve with our eGroups, friends, eTeams and most importantly, as a couple, the entire 9 days at over 25 different events. We were able to lead events that ranged from serving meals at a men's shelter to taking babies to visit residents at a memory loss home and painting barrels for food collections to cleaning counseling rooms at a pregnancy resource center.  We met incredible people, filled my gas tank 3 different times, got up way earlier than I am used to, learned our way around Uptown Charlotte, shared lots of laughter and tears and so much more.

Of course there are so many different stories to share about this amazing week we got to be a part of again. Part of the reason I wanted to write them down is so that I never forget them and don't take things for granted.  So for the next few days I'll share some of our experiences.

The Men's Shelter of Charlotte

It just so happened that earlier this year, I heard that our church needed a liaison for this organization.  I knew how good Brian would be at this role and he had talked about serving at a shelter with his dad when he was younger, so I threw his name out there to be our representative.  Well, he doesn't really like when I sign him up to do things before asking him, so there was a little procrastination there when it came to planning the events for LOVE Week.  However, when the week started, Brian was invested heart and soul.

Our first morning there, I was next to a girl from our church and a man walked out in an old tank top, saw us and said he had to go change because we were there.  We laughed and didn't think much of it.  He came back a few minutes later with a button down shirt on.  I commented that he looked nice and he said the church he goes to teaches him to honor those that are honoring him so that was why he changed.  We asked where he attends church and he asked if we have ever heard of Elevation.

We also got to meet Joe.  Joe has an infectious personality and has never met a stranger.  He wanted to know all of our names and was genuinely interested in getting to know all of us.  Joe also volunteers at our Elevation Uptown location on the production team.  On Sundays, he gets up at 3:30 am to walk about an hour to church so that he can be there and ready to serve by 5:30.  He walks in the rain, snow, darkness, nothing will stop him from missing church.  That first day we met him, he wanted to start serving in LOVE Week right away.  So he left the shelter and walked to the library where he registered for 3 events a day to serve at.  Here was this man who literally had almost nothing, but was joy-filled and wanting to serve others.
At the end of LOVE Week, our worship team had a concert and live recording at Time Warner Cable Arena.  He mentioned he wanted to go, but wasn't sure if he'd be able to due to curfew at the shelter.  We were able to help get him and a few other guys tickets, bus passes and great seats for that night.  Brian and I sat a section behind him during the concert and were able to see him worship freely.  It put into perspective for me how sometimes I don't want to worship because of something petty, or I just don't feel like it, or because I haven't received a blessing I thought I would have had by now.  Here was a man who wasn't afraid or ashamed to worship.  He has so much less than me by worldly standards, but so much more than me by godly standards.

Brian and I were able to serve here for 9 days in a row.  We were able to serve with our worship team, campus pastors, other staff memeber, people who were new to our church, people who have been coming for years, friends, eGroup members and so many others.  It was a huge part of us for that week and we honestly can't wait to serve there again, although I'm not too keen on those 4am wake up calls :)