Do you ever go through times where you just feel like being selfish? A visit to Patten Towers today brought my selfishness into perspective.As Jackie, Lorrie, and I went up the elevator, the fire alarm starting going off. I have never been in the elevator before when the fire alarm went off, and it was kind of an frightening experience, to say the least! We were at the M floor with the doors open when the elevator started buzzing, and the doors shutting! We pushed them back open and ran down the stairs to the lobby. Getting stuck in the elevator was not on our list for the day. As we waited for the fire department to come, we saw a man we recognized from various activities with Patten. His name is Merle. As we talked with him about going on the River Cruise (which he thoroughly enjoyed) he said, "Hey, wanna see something beautiful?" He was reaching into his wallet, and took out a picture of two little girls. "Who are they?" Lorrie asked. "They're my daughters, replied Merle, "But I can't see them. My wife and I are divorced and I don't get to see them." Tears began to form in my eyes. He started talking about them. About their personalties. What they like. And he carries them with him everywhere in his wallet. Meanwhile, the fire department had gotten there and it was safe to go upstairs again. Merle said goodbye as he headed off to go up the elevator. Oh how much more Jesus loves us than Merle loves his daughters! That put things into perspective.We boarded the elevator again. Our destination: Michael on the seventh floor. When Jackie and I were at the Zoo with Patten last Sunday, we talked with Michael for a while. He was pretty hyped up, but he calmed down after talking to us. Jackie said that we'd visit with him on Sabbath. I asked him, "What's your favorite food?" He looked at me apprehensively. "Why...?" "Because maybe we can bring it to you!" I responded. "Well...chicken teriyaki," he said matter of factly.So armed with chicken teriyaki from China Kitchen, we rang Michael's doorbell. He came to the door and looked at us. "Hi Michael!" we all chorused. The first thing he noticed was the food. "What's that?" he asked, suspiciously eying the bag Jackie was holding. "Chicken teriyaki!" A huge grin spread across his face. "I didn't think you guys were gonna come!" He kept saying it over and over. His face was beaming. He invited us in. We stepped into a large room with a dilapidated couch, a couple mattresses on the floor, and a TV. He sat down on his bed and chomped down on the egg roll. We visited a few minutes and then left for the eleventh floor to visit Sally. A few dollars spent on chicken teriyaki. A few minutes of visiting. A few hugs. That's all it took to make Michael's day--and it was so worth it to see the look on his face. Perspectives.We rang the bell on Sally's door. "Who is it?" the raspy voice croaked from inside. "It's us! We're back!" The smile on Sally's face didn't look as bright. She was in more pain than usual.At the beginning of this year, we didn't know if Sally wanted to continue Bible studies, or if she just wanted us to visit with her. Then, a few weeks ago she came out with this, "I keep waiting so long after I talk, because I'm waiting for you to preach at me again!" Well, I guess that cleared that up. We asked her if there was anything in particular she wanted to study. "Well, I keep trying to read the book of Revelations, but I don't understand it." The light bulb went off. Of course she wanted to study Revelation. Last year she mentioned to us several times that she was "reading Revelations, but I don't understand." So yesterday we had our first exciting study on the book of Revelation. I know the Holy Spirit was there to help her understand. She put her marker in her large print Bible for Revelation 2. "So I can be ready next time when you come."
Sunday, October 19, 2008
This Sabbath afternoon I had my first experience at Patton Towers in downtown Chattanooga. For those who aren't acquainted with this outreach project Patton Towers is an old hotel that has been converted into an apartment building for those on disability or that have other problems with addictions etc.I was standing in the back of the GYC main auditorium last year when I first watched the video about the project. On that video they related the people of Patton Towers to a dollar bill that never loses its value even after being crumpled and dragged through the mud. That analogy hit home and I felt impressed that this was the kind of ministry God had in store for me one day. So it was with great anticipation that I walked up to the run down brick building and entered the smoky-smelling lobby.Dingy would be the best word I can come up with to describe the interior of the building. The stairwells aren't the cleanest and there aren't many windows if any in most of the main areas. Then there were the people, precious people. People in wheelchairs. People in ragged clothes. People with empty looks in their eyes. After taking one look at them I no longer noticed the filth or the cobwebs. We came for the people, not to inspect the building or judge their clothing.First we paired up and knocked on doors to invite them to a Taco Salad supper and the church service we were holding in the building. Knocking on doors in a strange building I've never been in before with a guy I had just met definitely tested my bravery, but the Lord was good and provided the boldness I needed. He always does! I think the only time I felt afraid was when a ferocious sounding canine began barking and banging against one of the doors. Dog or no dog the invitation to the feast (both literal and spiritual) had to be given.Singing, praying and sharing a Bible with the people during the church service blessed me so much. When Jeff opened up the floor for testimonies most of the people who stood up and shared were people from Patton instead of the impressively large SAU group. It really showed me that the Spirit of God is moving on these peoples hearts! One large lady wearing an oxygen mask was sitting behind me. Whenever we prayed she always reached for my hand. It was so beautiful to just be there for her as we talked with our Heavenly Father.The whole process of feeding a huge group of people was a juggling act but was of course extremely rewarding. Pouring juice for the man with the cane or helping someone carry a plate of food becomes the most exciting, joyful thing in the world when done for the Savior! Even cleaning up the mess that was left when all of them had gone back to their rooms was a blessing. I loved it all! It wasn't work, it was service yielding for the One who first loved me!Nothing makes me want to laugh, sing, and dance for joy all at once more than being used by Christ to touch peoples life's! The wonderful thing is that I can take no credit! Without Christ I am selfish, fearful and lazy, but in Christ I am a new creation!
We had fun at the zoo...
We made new friends...
And enjoyed old friends (like Mildred :)
We relaxed in the shade
and had lovely conversations with the camel.
We had fun talking and laughing with eachother
Here is the Patten crew! It was definitely a great day at the zoo.
One of the ministries I signed up for was the Patten Towers. I've heard about the project, and I finally was able to go and see for myself what it was like. I was so blessed by going. The people who live there need encouragement and friends like students from Southern. We knocked on their doors and invited them to Patten church, then after the church service we served them a Patluck meal of haystacks. It was fun to fellowship with them, and let them know that we really care about them.