As I was writing the previous blog post, I was trying to find a link back to explain what it was we were actually doing in Pennsylvania last year, and couldn’t find one. I guess that explains some of the conversations I have had, where I was confused when people didn’t seem to know.
I always struggle to describe most of the actual work that I do: it looks like sitting at a computer, or having coffee, or running projector slides… It is the work of being present and helping people figure out what it is they are called to do in the world, and then how to go about that.
It rarely makes a good picture, to say the least.
Our friends in Pennsylvania are incredible people. For years, they have had a growing vision to launch a church. Not just another place for people to gather on Sundays, but a deep community of people who are encountering God, growing, loving each other, and taking their gifts out into the world in a whole variety of ways.
A project like this takes years of patiently laying groundwork, which our friends have been doing diligently. They have practiced patience, perseverance, wisdom, and plain hard work. When we arrived last August, it became evident that we were stepping in to play a short-term role in a much longer and larger process.
The launch of any project is when all of the groundwork suddenly becomes visible, and often involves problem solving in the midst of a flurry of activity. There are a torrent of details that remain minor if dealt with well. It is a time of setting precedents for what a community will become.
So our daily activities looked like chauffeuring, cooking, coffee-ing, praying, and setting up chairs. On a more important level (in the midst of our own healing and restoration) we were contending for our friends’ calling, and working alongside them to see this community launched well.
Most of the time our work is
quiet incremental, and doesn’t look like much – certainly not immediately. But we were seen and appreciated by this community as we served them. It was an honour to be able to return to Harbor last month. It was quickly apparent that individuals and the community have grown since we left. It was deeply gratifying to know that we have played a part in that, and to spend some time encouraging that growth, and planting some new seeds. (Described by one as, “Amanda going around and telling everyone what to do,” which I think is a bit strong, but I guess the nickname “Demanda” is funny for a reason.) Because I spent the time last year, I was able to say things, both encouraging and challenging, in ways that were more likely to be heard. (Although I do need to be a little careful – I’ve been hanging out a lot with people 15 years younger than me, which has been making me feel much older and wiser than I actually am. 😉 )
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
It looks like having coffee… but I’m changing the world.