March 12, 2009
Thursday evenings at the Café are always Open Mic Night. I haven’t mentioned Justin, who volunteers at the Café, whom John has been training for leadership there. Justin, I hear from our team, is planning to become a missionary with the Church Army, and so will be starting to raise support for that. Justin oversees Open Mic Night. The Café is open late, and you can get dinner there for $4 and enjoy the show. There’s lots of games on the shelves at the Café, so some people play chess or checkers while they listen.
Yesterday Rebekah and Hannah sanded that old bench, working outside in the courtyard. I heard also about cleaning out under a refrigerator, and doing some baking (presumably not simultaneously!) David and Kerry and John attacked a nasty light bulb replacement job, not without some risk and hilarity! Michael got plenty of practice making lattes. The day of service ended with the team going on a prayer walk, as we did last year: walking to spots up and down the street and praying for God’s purposes to go forward in those places.
Today there is talk about going up on the roof to locate and patch leaks. Kerry says that’s David’s job! Not sure what other projects will be tackled. I imagine that getting dinner ready will be one of them.
The team said that a few people from Deliverance Temple have stopped by the Café, recognized them and greeted them warmly. Last night we enjoyed a drop-in visit from Tony Domanik, from last year’s team. Tony quizzed everybody about what is going on this year at the Café. Today Kerry’s family plans to drop by! The McMahons have been participating with us in prayer. I feel that people getting connected with the Café in Aliquippa is a solid and exciting answer to our prayers.
Pray today for significant projects to be identified and forwarded, and for deep blessing all round. Pray for many patrons at the Café, for them to sense safety and hope, value and redemption. Pray for there to be responsible choices made about behavior, community, hope, work and Christ.
March 11, 2009
Yesterday was the team’s first full day of Café service. Over dinner here last night I heard that David and Kerry, with the help of Dean Smith, despite the playful fire of supervisory pessimists and optimists trading It won’t works and It will works, successfully built and attached a shelf to the wall for the community computers. Wow! That creates a lot more space at the back of the Café! More room for the foosball table! Rebekah and Hannah aided a plan of John’s to refurbish an old park bench. Getting it apart proved a feat. They also served lunch. Michael expressed delight at being back behind the counter, something he did a lot of when he interned there last summer. Kerry reports that Michael makes a great Oreo milkshake! The café was bustling with patrons around lunch. Later in the day, Hannahs family stopped in for their first visit; they toured the place, and the team served them dinner.
John says that today they will climb up into the crawl space and get down St. Patrick’s Day decorations (as I recall, there is always a party at the Café — keep it in mind!), as well as computers to install in the freshly assembled upstairs office. Not sure what else!
I’ve been thinking a lot about what John said on Sunday: a 10-year-old (20-year-old, 40-year-old) is not responsible for what he/she was born into; they are responsible for choices now; and we are responsible to show them the way. I think there is also the reality that all of us need some totally undeserved redemption at a point in our lives when we are in a position to see the severity of our need. A redemption that brings us to our senses and frees us to move forward responsibly in the grace of God. This miracle can never be confused with presumption! It is essential not only to embracing the gospel; it is essential to human being, essential to healing and maturity. Highborn and lowborn, as the psalm calls us, are alike in needing this.
Pray for the Spirit to grant this. But we are consigned to pray it first for ourselves; then for Team Aliquippa and the Church Army Aliquippa base plant; and then for people in Aliquippa.
During Spring Break 2009 a group of 20 students from Geneva will be heading to the great city of New Orleans. New Orleans is known as “The City that Care Forgot.” Long before Hurricane Katrina in 2005 New Orleans suffered from issues relating to racism, poverty and homelessness. Hurricane Katrina only escalated these issues.
As Geneva students go to New Orleans they will be working with a Christian organization called Trinity Christian Community (TCC) located in the New Orleans neighborhood of Holly Grove. TCC’s mission is encapsulated in three E’s: Educate and train leaders; Empower leaders for lives of service; and provide opportunities to Effect change in individual lives and in our communities. Through TCC, Geneva will be serving the community by building, painting, cleaning and getting their hands dirty to honor God. Students will be living in the heart of the French Quarter. Because of the key location in the evening students will spend time with homeless in the area.
We hope that God blesses our time.
Even as I write, Team Aliquippa is loading up and heading for Uncommon Grounds Cafe! I am SO thrilled that for the second year the Geneva mission to Aliquippa is becoming a reality!
Today holds orientation, stories of Aliquippa’s past and present, and of holy imagining of the kingdom of heaven on Franklin Ave.; a most meaning prayer walk, to stand in the places where we long to see the Spirit move, and seek Him there. The cafe is open till 4. At 5:30, the team goes to Vespers at the Community of Celebration; last year the communal meal following was a delicious Lenten Lamb stew, enjoyed in silence—except for outbursts of laughter as we were read to from a book the community was sharing during Lent.
As you pray the Lord’s Prayer, and you get to “Thy kingdom come….on earth as it is in heaven,” pray that for Aliquippa! Let the Spirit deepen your longing for it! As John Stanley often invites people, start to imagine what it would look like!
Today in the mail, from the Episcopal Church Army, comes the amazing story of one 11-year-old who, after 3 tempestuous years of visiting the cafe and getting evicted for misbehavior, has learned his value and place there. The letter has a photo of him; you should see his face!!! The future of Aliquippa! He comes for banter over breakfast, and with THIRTY! of his friends for Family Movie Night!
The cafe longs to begin for him and others a young artists program. Three artist mentors are ready to go. But it needs $1200 to install the heat/AC in the new art room! Pray for this amount to flow out of the heaven’s coffers through the generous hearts of people.
This is just one story which David, Hannah, Rebekah, and Michael will come to be part of!
We are leaving for Aliquippa [Saturday] at 9 a.m. by car to work with John Stanley at the Uncommon Grounds Cafe. I’m not sure exactly what we are going to do but we’ll find out next week. Several of the students were there last year and have an idea of things that were not completed then so we may some ideas but we are open to whatever the Lord leads us to. The members of the team are David Ketter (student leader), Rebekah Drehman, Michael Neal and Hannah Keeler. I’m not sure if their names are spelled correctly. We’re all tired but excited about the trip. We will be looking for the “Breath of God”.