I had a great day today, and I thought you all should know about it. It started off with a great run with my roommate (oh boy, training for a triathlon). At that point I decided that I needed to take some me time to prepare for the day. I spent some time reading the Bible and in prayer. Then I headed off to my old Bible College. I debated whether it would really be a worthwhile trip. I didn’t have too much time to spend there, but it is a place I like to go where I can spend time with God without thinking that I should really be washing the dishes, or doing laundry, or sweeping, or checking my email one more time. So I headed up to the college. My theology prof was there, and I thought it would be good to have a chat with him. I stopped in his office and we had a great conversation about the Eucharist and about being the body of Christ. He confirmed a lot of thought I have recently had, and sent me on my way with a book. It was a really good and encouraging talk. Then I made my way to the LDS institute. In the last institute class I attended I really felt like I wanted to talk with the teacher, so I emailed him and we set up a time (which happened to be this morning). I wasn’t sure how our conversation would go, but in the email I had mentioned that I wanted to hear his story. I got to the institute building, and the doors were locked, which meant I had to ring the door bell, and that really scared me. A very large part of me wanted to turn and walk away, but I didn’t. I rang it, and I waited. I could see the Brother walk from the far end of the hall towards me. I think a million things went through my mind. I didn’t know what I was going to say to him. I had nothing planned. I sat down in his office as he finished off an email. I made some observations –Rugby picture –lobster trap –family photos; and said some silent prayers. “So, what do you want to know” he said breaking the silence. “Everything” I replied. And I felt like that statement was pretty true, I do want to know everything. He started from his birth and told me about his childhood, his grandparents, his experiences as a Catholic, as a born again Christian and then about how he became an LDS. He told me about how he came out west, and how he got a job with the LDS Church teaching seminary and then institute. He told me about his wife and his 6 children. And then his story concluded. He looked at me and asked about my story. “Did you grow up in the Church?” I was a little shocked by his question, but answered “I grew up going to Church, but not the LDS Church.” He was intrigued, but then I realised that more was needed to be said. I added “I am not a member.” He was shocked. He had no idea. I don’t try to trick people into thinking that I am LDS; I don’t know any Mormons with dreadlocks, but I guess it is mainly the LDS who attend institute, so it was understandable for him to think that I was a member. Then I shared parts of my story with him. I shared it much like I would share my story with kids at camp. I talked about my dad’s cancer and my parents love for Guatemala. I shared about my struggle with pride and about finding my worth in Christ. I shared about inner city mission trips and the way they have changed the direction of my life. I shared about Bible School and I shared about my decision to go to a different Church when I was in grade 11. I shared about why I moved and what I might take in school. There are a lot of things which have happened in my life. Then we started talking about the way he teaches. I admire his way of teaching so much, and he said that we should sit down and talk about it more some time. I’d like that. I didn’t think that we would talk for more than an hour, but we chatted for an hour and a half and we could have kept talking if he did not have a class to teach. He asked me where I attend church now, and when I told him that I went to a Mennonite Church he was rather surprised. As we walked down the hall to leave we talked about finding the value in different denominations even if we don’t agree with everything they believe.
I had told the girl I mentor that I would be at her house at one, but I did not leave the institute building until one and she lives far across the city. I also stopped at a gas station on the way to her house because I had to pee so bad, and while I was there I decided to buy gas and wash some of my windows. I then made a stop at Safeway, I more frequently shop at superstore, but Safeway was on the way and I have a gift card for there. I stopped to buy some fruits and veggies for the girl I mentor and her family. They lost electricity and thus lost all of the food in their fridge. I know that she will often tell me that there is no food it the fridge, but I know by that she often just means that there is nothing which she desires to eat, but when she asked for fruits and veggies, and her mom was well aware of her doing so, I know that they really did need some food. I got to the till and then remembered that I left my wallet it the car. I asked the cashier if I could run and grab it and she said that would be no problem, When I got back there was a different cashier and I was a little confused. Anyhow, I paid for my food, and completely forgot to use the gift card (good thing I will need more groceries again) and then got to her house at 1:51 Her nine year old sister greeted me and helped me put away the groceries. The girl I mentor was sleeping as she had felt kinda sick, but we woke her up to make cookies. And she came to life. After the cookie making I hung out with her little sister while she went and showered and then we went downtown to volunteer at a Centre which provides community, meals, food hampers and clothing to single moms and low income families. The girl I mentor and her mom and sister and a neighbour all came with us down there. It is great that they can volunteer and receive what they need at the same time, I think it gives dignity which is what that place is all about. They went home with food and new clothes. As I drove home (which give me a bit of time to think) I thought about how much I have come to love that family. I haven't always, but I think God has given me his love for them, and allowed me to see him in their love for eachother. That family is far from perfect. They hurt eachother, fight and yell at eachother, but in the end the love eachother, and care deeply for eachother and would do so much for eachother.
I also started thinking how it was pretty great that the place we volunteered at was able to give, and help out so much. I wondered if anyone practical would say that they should of had food storage so that when they were in need they had extra stored away, but I thought about the sharing that had taken place that night and then I got it. I couldn’t contain it. I laughed because I needed to release my heart. “That’s Christianity” I said out loud and I said it again, and again. I got it. Christianity isn’t having enough to care for one’s self, but about sharing when we have more than enough. It is about having a community to support those in need. It is about love. That is Christianity.
I think that Shane Claiborne echos the voice of the early Christians when he says that those with two coats ought to give one away, and to not give one away is like stealing from those who have none. I think if we have an extra can of food, and there are others going without, we have taken what rightfully belongs to them.