To say that our life here in the heart of Jackson is different than our life out on the farm is an enormous understatement. Some days, it feels more like a different country than simply a different county. Some of the differences aren't that great --- the kids bikes being stolen from our backyard, alarms and sirens often blasting, and limited outdoor play space for the little ones --- but overall, most of the differences are fine. In fact, some of them are really great. I was thinking today about some of the things that have just happened and pondering that we surely didn't have those things happening out on the farm.
For instance, an artist set up his easel today right on the corner by Faith House and painted a street scene that included the side of our home plus Hope House and the rooming house behind it on Barksdale Street.
A neighbor knocked on the door earlier today and asked if we had any peanuts. I asked him why peanuts and he said just because he liked them. So I sent Travis to bag up some peanuts for Mr. Joe.
Later in the afternoon, there was another knock on the door and it was an old friend with her husband. They had come by with some donations for the clothes ministry. I showed them around that part of We Will Go and one thing led to another and before too long, I was walking them through the neighborhood pointing out the steps where hookers used to sit day after day, the houses that were brothels just a few years ago, the abandoned houses where homeless people take shelter, the cemetery where Eudora Welty is buried, the row of houses restored for the use of our missionaries, and the community garden that blesses anyone who needs the food grown there. I certainly didn't have walks with scenery like that out in the country.
And tonight, we ate supper with about a dozen new friends who are here on a mission trip from the Iris Harvest School in Sarasota, Florida. Now out on the country, we frequently threw big parties and it wasn't uncommon to have lots of friends sitting around the table for supper, but we never had a party with quite the diversity as we find ourselves hosting here at We Will Go. In this group alone, besides the NON-Mississippi Americans, we had Canadians (including one originally from Wales), Australians, one Jamaican, a Ghanian immigrant to England, a native born Brit, and a leader from Ireland.
Now don't get me wrong. I loved our life in the country. God used that time to bless our family in many ways. But He is using this time at We Will Go to show me many things, one of which is how pleasantly I can be surprised when I follow and obey Him.
See, if you would have asked me several years ago, I would have told you that living here would have been one of the last places in the world I would have wanted to live. I loved my quiet and simple life out in the country. I didn't like big cities and definitely didn't like crime-ridden cities.
When we first started thinking about moving here, it was strictly because we felt like God was telling us to and because we knew it would be a good time of training and transition for us as we moved to Swaziland. I also knew that God wanted us to support the ministry of We Will Go and love the neighbors here.
What I didn't know was how much we would enjoy living here. How much the blessings would outweigh the sacrifices and challenges.
Sometimes different is just different, neither better or worse. Just different.
But sometimes, like this time, different has proved to be far more amazing than I could ever have imagined.
Ain't that just like God and His plans?