Open Hearts and Baseball

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. – Matthew 11:25

On our trip, our family was paired with a wonderful group from Ohio.  What a blessing to meet these Godly friends and be able to really get close to them!  Included in the group were Tim and Trish and their boys Emanuel and Ethan, Terry, Ruth, Jessica, and Brittany.  Salt of the earth!  People we will be friends with forever!

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Our first day of work, we went to M.A.T.S. (Ministerial Association Temporary Shelter) to complete various jobs.  This shelter is for women, men, and families who have fallen on hard times and have no place to live.  Wonderful organization!

As we pulled up, a few of the residents were sitting outside at picnic tables.  We said, “hello,” and got a response…but not much of one.  My first thought was that they either were concerned about being judged by us, or were concerned about how we were going to act there (how preachy were we going to be, etc.).

We started working with happy hearts.  We painted rocks, built furniture, and cleaned.  We talked and laughed and made God connections that were beautiful.  Our hearts were full to overflowing.  We kept asking what more we could do, driving poor Melanie crazy, I think.

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The kids helped everywhere they could, Alex doing a man’s work (he is, after all, the size of a man and strong!).  They enjoyed getting to know each other, and were well-behaved and sweet.

They did have some down time, though, when they were unable to help out.  Being resourceful…and active…they found a plastic ball and bat and started a mini game of baseball.

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And God used this for His glory as well.

The residents sitting at the picnic tables were treated to a baseball game!

Inevitably, the ball was hit “foul” near them, and these residents graciously threw the ball back.  Then, the boys asked them to join in!  I looked over to see a couple of the gentlemen pitching and hitting, all of them…men and boys alike…having a great time.

God used some active, loud kiddos to help soften some hearts uncertain about interaction with us.  Praise Him for that!

When we left at the end of the first day, I thanked one of the gentlemen for being sweet with the boys, and he thanked me for getting to play ball with them.  Connections made!

We were blessed to come back a second day.

When we arrived, we were greeted not by small, tentative smiles. but by full-blown ones.

And we were greeted by hearts that were more open to the things of the Lord.

We ate lunch with a couple of the residents and learned their stories…and shared with them.  One of the gentlemen told us stories about his time in Vietnam, and his grandchildren in Nebraska.  He was thrilled to watch children at play.  He knew the Lord and joined our prayer circle at the end of the day.  We met a young woman who was trying to get her life back together and get out of some bondage of her past, and were able to pray with her, leading her to the Lord.

I cannot be certain how conversations would have gone on Day 2 of our time at M.A.T.S. had the boys not jumped in as they did.  God is awesome and would have accomplished His purposes regardless.

But to me, it was a good reminder that He can use the little things in life to accomplish His good works..

I am thankful not only for the work we were able to do…but also for the lesson learned.  God can use our kiddos to do big things for Him, just by being who they are.

And He can use me in the same way.  Praise Him!  Praise Him!  Praise Him!

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