Life's circumstances left a young woman, mother to a 6 year old girl paralyzed from the legs down. Since her car accident she has relied on a wheel chair ramp to get in and out of her home. When she contacted NeighborLink she explained that there was a ramp connected to her trailer but it was not sturdy and beginning to wobble and sway. It was unsafe and alarming. So, NeighborLink volunteers rose to the challenge. They were not only able to build her a brand new deck they were able repurpose the old wood from her ramp. They used it for another ramp that was to be build in weeks to come.
When I showed up the wheel chair ramp was half way finished. The sound of power tools were competing with the sound of children laughing and shouting playfully. The NeighborLink volunteers were hard at work but they took the time to stop and greet me, as they did every new person that bopped by. Everyone was included and welcome. The neighborhood kids were all gathered around and wanted to be near the action. They knew where the boundaries were and respected them. It was really a neat dynamic to roll up to.
The flock of enthusiastic kiddos instantly asked me "What is in that big bag that you are holding?" Names come later, they jumped right to the important things. I replied, "I will tell you what is in my bag if you can help me with a small project?" They all shouted "Yes!" They were up for helping me and I was honored. So, I began to assign jobs to all the kids that I had just met. By the time they figured out how to get their aprons on and their hands clean I had the grill set up and hot. We all shared the title of chef and were on a mission to make sure everyone we could see got to eat dinner with us.
We grilled enough hotdogs for everyone to have two, even all the passerbys. The kids were very excited to feed everyone but most excited to feed the woman we were building the wheelchair ramp for. The kids began to argue over who got to serve her. But one little 6 year old's voice won the dispute. "She is my mommy and I want to be the one that makes her feel special." So, this very proud 6 year old carried a plate of hotdogs up the finished step portion of the ramp to her mommy. Behind her was a line of kids. One holding chips, one holding ketchup, one holding napkins. They figured out a solution.
A handful of people were excited about the idea of hotdogs for dinner but they were most curious about all the noise going on behind me and my grill. "So, what is NeighborLink anyways, and why are they doing this?" I had the honor of explaining how the generous group of volunteers behind me find great joy in helping people in this way. These men often build ramps for people they have never met. They feel The Holy Spirit moves them to do kind work for people in need. People seemed really stunned that the men behind me had never before met this women that they call their neighbor. "So do they go to the same church or something?" I was asked. "No, she just asked for help via NeighborLink and they showed up." I shared with them. One women was explaining how she had been meaning to come over and ask about their situation and see if they needed any help. "I just never got around to it, I guess I should probably try to bop in and do that soon." she said.
I am writing this story because it is very special me. I showed up to enrich everyone's NeighborLink experience by providing dinner and share with neighbors about NeighborLink's mission. This whole experience backfired and ended up enriching and helping me. The feeling I walked away with was pure joy that I was incapable of keeping to myself. My face was cracked in two for the rest of the evening. I just kept drifting in and out of astonishment. I was so moved. This experience inspired me to do my part louder and more frequently. It inspired me to shine as bright as I can, while I can. It inspired me to extrapolate happiness from the darkest of situations. This women reached out for help and in return ended up helping me. Now that is a miracle that I am overjoyed to have been apart of.