Tranquility Village, Alvin, TX, February 13
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jer. 29:11, The Message). These were God’s words through the prophet Jeremiah to a people who felt they had been abandoned by God and could not see their way forward. It was meant to be a strong word of encouragement, a word of hope, a strength-giving, life-enriching word – but as always, it was up to those who heard whether to believe it and see their lives filled with hope or set it aside and continue to live in hopelessness.
When Impact Cares came to Tranquility Village in Alvin, on the surface it appeared we had entered a hard place. The weather was cold and getting colder, and for Texans, that is not a welcome thing! Language appeared to be a barrier, even an obstacle to doing what Impact Cares does.
Volunteers, or should we say a lack of appeared to be a barrier, an obstacle not easily overcome. What were we to do? With all these challenges facing us, would we be able to accomplish anything, have any ‘Impact’ on this community? Let’s be honest, it wasn’t looking good, but then. . . !
Let’s take a brief excursion and see the ‘plans’ that the One who said, ‘I know what I’m doing and see what actually happened on that day and during that week.
The weather – well, it was cold and did I mention we were in Texas?
Yet, this seeming ‘obstacle’ did not end up holding anything back. Oh, we couldn’t do as much painting as we would have liked and some shivered a bit but many other projects did get done. The kids came out in droves, 28 in total, and were eager to help rake and clean up yards. Not only was Camp Impact a great success in spite of the cold, but the kids, seemingly immune to the weather just kept going. They ended up filling 45 large garbage bags and therefore many yards were cleaned and the entire community was blessed by them. Bibles were handed out and the ‘Word’ by the ‘One’ who had told his people so many years ago was once again coming to life in the lives of those listening and bearing fruit as well.
The language barrier – even this proved to be a ‘not-over-comeable’ obstacle! When volunteers showed up from a Spanish-speaking church, well, once again we saw those ‘plans’ were unfolding in front of our very eyes! Being ‘Valentine’s’ weekend, some who were there had the idea to put together some Valentine’s gift bags. Just as they are finishing this small project, the Spanish Pastor showed up at just the right time. He went along with some great volunteers to pass these out. They went house to house and handed out these unexpected yet welcome gifts and were able to converse and pray with many of the residents.
One more apparent ‘barrier’ taken out of the way!
The last ‘obstacle’, volunteers, or apparent lack of such, was also brought to nothing. The unknown ‘plans’ for that day again boosted our faith. Staring at the prospect of having very few volunteers and ending with 69 volunteers was absolutely amazing and humbling. In spite of all the above, the weather, the language challenges, we ended up with three different churches bringing 39 volunteers, 9 Impact employees came and 21 residents also pitched in to make this day a resounding success. As one employee noted, ‘I love this stuff! It makes my week!”
The words of the psalmist come to mind after a day like this. “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.” (Ps. 42:5, The Message).
This day was a great reminder to all of us to not look so much at the circumstances in front of us but to look up to the God who is in control of those circumstances!
Russ Ooms, on behalf of Impact Cares.