Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. (NIV)
The weather here is just beginning to show some signs of warmth. Within the next few weeks what little snow we had will have melted away. When I think of spring I think of mud. As an adult I dislike mud. As a child I loved it. We would ride our pieced-together bicycles through every puddle we could find, slinging rooster tails of muddy water as high into the sky as we could, leaving a muddy streak up the backs of our shirts. We played in the streams of melt-water running in the ditches, floating stick-boats into the culverts then racing to the other side of the road to watch them emerge spinning. We would follow them downstream as far as we could, over rocks and logs and driveways, never minding all the grown-up considerations of whose backyard we might be walking through, how we might be wrecking our school shoes, or that we were not supposed to ditch our little brothers and sisters, even though they slowed us down. Forty-five degrees felt like eighty to our pale winter arms. As far as we were concerned it was t-shirt weather. When we got home our mothers were none too happy with us but we were too exhilarated (and wet) to care. Nowadays I do not appreciate wet shoes, mud stained shirts, or washed out driveways as much as I once did. My sons are a little past that stage but I think I am going to find some time this spring to encourage some of my nieces and nephews to explore the same muddy ditches I enjoyed as a child. Spring is upon us, get out and enjoy the mud!
My wife, Michelle, continues to stay busy with work, taking a few college courses, and facilitating a women’s bible study group. I continue to lead the singing/worship portion of Church services on Sunday and we all enjoy our Wednesday night Bible study. I am thankful for our men’s group every Friday morning. Chase (12th grade) and Jonah (8th grade) are both excited about spring and busy with school. We are gearing up for Chase’s graduation from high school in 3 short months and planning for his college in the fall. He will be going to a technical school here in the area, studying to be a machinist. He currently works in a welding and machine shop and comes home filthy dirty every evening and loves it. We have a summer full of birthdays, Chase turns 18, Jonah turns 14, and Michelle turns 29 again. Jonah goes into high school and Michelle and I have our twentieth wedding anniversary this fall. 2016 is shaping up to be a busy year for all of us!
Things here at the shelter are going well. We have 2 single ladies and a father/daughter family in emergency shelter and 2 men in transitional housing. The family is currently transitioning out of the shelter and into another housing program here locally. We have one of our shelter residents coming back to work at the shelter as part of an internship/job placement program. We continue to do a lot of transportation for our residents. Thankfully this year fuel prices are lower than they have been in a few years. We are serving a total of 5 households, occupying all 4 of our apartments. We do have a couple of empty beds so we don’t have to turn people away, but we get calls almost every day. Overall things are going smoothly here at the shelter; our program participation numbers are very consistent over the last 5 years. We encourage our residents to join us in church, bible studies, and fellowship groups but they are not required to attend. Some of our residents are interested in the discussions and message while too many are not. All we can do is provide the opportunity.
We just finished the 1st half of our 6th year of emergency shelter operations. For the 1st half we provided 913 nights of shelter with 18 residents. LAST YEAR TOTAL we provided 1,791 nights of shelter, just under FY 12/13, 1,848 nights of shelter. ALL TIME YTD: 9,531 nights of shelter. LAST YEAR TOTAL we served 36 total residents including 20 single men, 4 single women and 3 families comprising 12 people. ALL TIME we have served 190 total residents. Annually we typically receive approximately 120 calls from people looking for shelter. We continue to average about 5 residents per night. We have had up to 12 people here at a time. We continue to help people transitioning from jail, rehab, and probation/parole providing a stable supervised place from which they could find employment and seek housing. We have expanded and maintained a great working relationship with the other service providers in our community to help families find the assistance and resources they need to move forward with stabilizing their lives. We average about 15,000 miles every year helping transport residents to doctor appointments, court dates, or even just to the grocery store.
Please keep in prayer our staff as we struggle to reach out to our residents. We are praying for opportunities to minister to not only their physical needs but also their spiritual needs. Please continue to pray for our residents as they struggle to grasp hold of stability and sobriety. My prayer is that they come to realize the true peace that comes not from an absence of conflict or struggle, but from the knowing faith of salvation and a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your continued prayers. It is through your persevering faith in God’s ministry here that we are able to keep doing His work in our community. We are so thankful for your donations of time spent in prayer on our behalf, the gifts of day-to-day supplies, and your generosity of financial support that keeps us moving forward in HIS perfect plan.
In His Service,