16 June 2012

Hello Friends, John here again.

This week was better than last week. Already things are starting to feel more comfortable. The staff has been so good and accommodating to us, so willing to bring us along side and not only share with us their own experiences but bring us into new experiences as though we we've always been a part of their volunteers. I've already made several friends who I feel are old friends, and I've only known them for almost two weeks. One example of how this has worked is that one of our leaders names is Joe, and he will frequently turn to me to talk about specific incidents that have happened with clients, either the previous week or that same day. He often times is either processing how he's handled the situation, trying to see if he could've done something better, or else just remarking on it. The openness with which he, and a good deal of the rest of the volunteers, share with us without even really knowing us is fairly extraordinary, and makes me just want to contribute more. Ironically, we are continually getting praise both from the staff members and even occasionally from the clients. I've had numerous times when I've been told very authentically that I'm making a difference, when the truth is, I don't even know what I've done. Most of the time i feel like I'm just showing up. I suppose the lesson is that God uses people even if they don't see it or feel like it, but the condition is they just have to show up.

Perhaps the greatest moment I had this week was in our Internationals Club, which is a place for people from other countries to come, get food, have community with each other and then either have an English class or a Bible Study. I talked with a man named Aala from Libya who was a Muslim, and had some of the most interesting and best conversation I've had in a long time. He only started learning English a year and a half ago, but is already fluent. He was sad about how hard it was for him, and it made me think that there should be easier ways to help people who are trying to make new lives for himself. Because of war in his country everyone has lost at least one person in their family, if not more. He also will never go back. He's moved on. He's a Muslim, and it was fascinating for me to get an inside look into what he thinks as well as the surrounding countries. The conclusion I've come to about him is that he's very much like a young Christian. He firmly believes in God, but doesn't feel like he can prove it to people who ask. He doesn't really know much about what Islam teaches or believes from deep study. He feels like Christianity and Islam have a lot in common because we both serve one God. He didn't go so far as to say the same God. I don't know if he's thought that far or not. But he very much feels like we have more in common than not, and thinks that in general people are either good or bad, whether their Christian, Muslim, political or not. You find the same contrasts everywhere. Please pray for him. I'm excited to continue talking with him since he seems very open. But I will only see him once a week, so the amount that I can actually show him about Christianity without overwhelming him is limited. He's in the right place thought. City Mission is the perfect place for him to feel safe and loved, and have the truth of Christ continually preached and lived out.

Thanks for all your support and prayers. This has been amazing!

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