Friday, June 25, 2010
Dear Annapolis Chicklets:
Thanks to so many for your fabulous donations for Haiti and the Ministry in general. So many have given to the "FreeMarket" and I want you to know how impactful that has been. Not to mention $1470 was raised at Liz's incredible night of "Womanade". Thanks Liz, but mostly for the fabulous women who shared their own stories, never underestimate the power of women ...together we can change the world, Mother Theresa did.(Of course WE are Gods hands and feet..He is waiting for us)
The photos of the two girls are of "Melody & Janiece" homeless girls we are housing until their parents can get on their feet, many of you have made a tremendous impact by your giving, they came with nothing, now they are purging to give to the freemarket of items they can finally let go of.
With the ongoing planning to Haiti, God always gives us more, today I spent time with a refugee couple from Ethiopia, he, Jirom, arrived 7 months ago, after a long lottery wait, she, Tirhas, has been here much longer, long enough to go to a local HS to get her HS diploma. What now...I pray for a mentor for them, to get them up and running, but our world, is not easy to maneuver. With jobs online, they have no computer, with transportation issues, they have no car and no license...for folks who want a better life, we(US) make it pretty dogawn hard to jump through so many hoops. Gratefully, the US accepts them, these are just the kind of friends I want to be with..fighters! Folks who just need a "Hand-Up"!!!!!!!!!!
Pray for folks to step in...and their courage not to waiver.
But I must tell you...without each other, this is more than one person can bear...so I am humbled by your giving, I am grateful for your time...I am thankful for my new sweet friends.
For those of you who are moved to missions...Townsend, Rhonda, Liz & I are headed to Zimbabwe in 2012.to visit Townsend's old stomping ground...an orphanage that changed her life!..hope you'll be ready to go by then.....you only have this one life...there is no "do over"...let's go.
Rhonda & I leave for Haiti in one month July 20-28..want to go? One ticket, $500 bucks, and a heart for loving is all you need...maybe one or two shots...come along.
So whats happening Now?...
Well, it's been a busy three weeks, we've increased our family by two little girls who's home is here for now, their parents are in a ditch with dreams of a home in the future. Many of you have met the girls, they have since finished elementary school,(for the summer) so many have given them beautiful clothes, swimsuits for the summer, we have put one on the swim team.... thanks to GACC for including them so beautifully.Having two more children, girls at that, has brought us many blessings. We have no idea how God is using us, we just are plugging along one day at a time, praying Gods will to be done.
We took them on their first vacation to Jekyll island, it was an amazing adventure. Girls with father in photo.
The market is flourishing in many ways, as we prepare for Haiti(July 21-28) threw a "Wet & Wild" outreach event that taught us so much,(younger girl in dunk tank) expect little and be thankful for Gods gifts. Thank you to so many personal donations to make such an event happen, we ended financially in the red, but spiritually God filled our cups. HE reminds me often...it's not about my goal, it's about "how are YOU loving others?" So we keep that in mind as we move forward...I hate fundraisers just in case you wanted to know.
Third new quest God has dropped in my lap is helping a refugee family from Africa(Ethiopia) just above the Red Sea, HOW do WE help such friends?
I went to their home, they needed a microwave and pans...got it. But really they need help in logging hours behind the wheel so "Jihrom" can stop commuting by bus to Fredricksburg to work in a car wash. Tirhas wants to work locally, McDonalds on 301, but they haven't called back. We ran up there to talk to them...."two weeks they tell me." How are these friends supposed to make here in the US w/o support. They have no car, no license, no computer to fill out job applications, they have to walk to the library...when have we ever had to jump such hoops to get a job...an hourly job our 16 year old balk at taking, let alone a man and a woman. What is God asking of us...is it really so hard to help others? Truthfully, it's easier to help at my convienience...one time events, run the track, drop in to sort clothes, give money, but stay with these folks long term? Become friends? Really God? Is that what you want from me?
I really think it is...will I? I'd rather sit at the pool. I'd rather pretend "I'm so busy" living my own life. Taking care of my own children....going on vacation, making memories, cleaning my long overdue home.Please everyone in my family...what are we told to do in Gods word?
Love one another as Christ has loved me. OK God...I'm going to try.
Friends in Annapolis, I'm grateful, for your love, for your donations, for your stories, for your desire to get involved from afar. Lets continue to listen to God, and read His word and try to really ask..."Am I living His purpose for my life?"
Preparing for fall: need all old backpacks, usable school supplies, & lunchboxes...when you buy yours think of our friends.
Mens' clothing esp summer shorts, polo shirts, short sleeve dress shirts,
used underwear & socks.
Anything else is a bonus!
Love to you all..I welcome your comments & concerns.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
FreeMarket Phillip & Angela decide to Marry. It's a beautiful story, their love for each other i am unsure of how long they have been together, but I have known them from the FM over one year. Deb has read the Bible to them every third Sat for that entire duration, she has been steadfast in her commitment. Over a month ago the market was quiet, Phillip & Angela were their early to help, so we had some quiet time to talk...we are getting married Phillip says...how amazing i add. Knowing that when a couple gets married their gov't benefits reduce, makes no sense to me..but it's a fact. Phillip assures me, that even after making only $23.00 per day due to support he owes, he feels confident He & Angela are doing the right thing in the eyes of God. The story was one of a kind, one I have never heard much about. I read often about poverty, and a symptom of poverty is caused by men not marrying the mothers of their children, that it is a cultural sign of weakness in the uneducated poor for men. Slowly, Phillip decides to be a good witness for his children.
The wedding was this past Sat., I arrived 5 mins late, not knowing where it was...but I wasn't late after all...the wedding coordinators had yet to arrive, the bride was dressed since 1:30, sweaty and shaky, Deb sat in her air conditioned car waiting with the cake Sherri had so generously made. The macaroni & cheese sat on a table by the pews, balloons bounced all around, the preacher read from a script with a difficulty pronouncing the words...Hmmm i think, this is different...different from my wedding. That is what God reminds me...we are all different, and that is just the way He made us...we aren't meant to do things or be the same. So just because the cake was the only thing I recognized as my normal...I am reminded that Phillip & Angela were so happy and so thrilled to be giving their lives to God and each other...that nothing else really mattered to them...and guess what, they saved about $10,000 dollars that I threw away 19 years ago, trying to make the wedding look perfect, never putting God even close to the front. I'd do it all over and have just the same wedding Angela & Phillip had today.
By the way...on the day of Phillips wedding, he announces...."I got a full time job, with benefits from the temp job I've been working at...putting together boxes!" I'm so happy for him... I was blessed to be a small part of a beautiful moment.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I spent the day with Mohamed, a man of great Character, who is one of the recipients of a house we have purchased to get him out of a "boarding home". We can purchase a home, boy I wish we could purchase more and I know we will when God sees that we are good stewards of what he has given us already. I met Mohamed & Todd many times, but at Christmas while caroling at his home for another Fm friend, he touched my heart. We have since become great friends. He's close to my age, trying to be something more in his life. He's made mistakes, like we all have, now he's adjusting to someone giving him a second chance. He's amazingly gracious, and wonders why him? i don't know the real reason, except God has shown me the way. This house was intended for James, but God closed that door, allowing me to see, James wasn't trustworthy or ready for a changed life by Gods' standard. So the house closed on us, James showed his fanny, as we all do in time, we let the house go only to be offered it once a gain to give to another soul who admittedly deserves a second chance. If I had more money...I'd likely give it all away..so I must be patient.
What did I see in Mohamed & Todd? First it was gratitude for nothing, just that we stopped by. They needed food but never asked, we just(I) felt called to go back and give. Over time we developed a friendship, and we began to spend time together, looking for ways to improve their lives. I helped him move his fathers belongings, again he was grateful. He is lighthearted at times, and emotional at others, he's always thanking God, he teaches me so much and recognizes when I'm pushing for more honesty and strength. Todd is quiet, and he says people think I'm dumb..."I'm not.". He's far from dumb, I asked him questions about his life one day and he told me many heartfelt comments, how he missed his father, who died at Thanksgiving...he shared with me one day How he purchased life insurance for himself in the likely hood he would die young, he got for his brother in case he didn't have money for his funeral...What I said..Who does that? He's a little younger than Mohamed but so excited to move out, into a home of his own, that he can care for without the excuse of a landlord who is in it just for the money. It can be his... no one to answer to but he and his roommate.
What I love about what I am doing now, is its causing me to listen more for God, His stories of love and promise from those individuals whose only hope is God...I have much to learn. Mohamed prays a lot around me, i love that, it reminds me to be so much thankful to God for what He is doing in my life.
Yesterday..my mother said..."You hang around so much sadness. How do you do it?" MY answer to her, a non Christian, is "I couldn't be happier!" God brings me so much joy everyday just by throwing myself into what I see as my purpose, a voice and a lover of the unlovely, the unheard, social inequality...I want to fight for someone....Most of all...Glorifying God it what He is doing in my life. I can't wait until next Friday..closing day for Mohamed and Todd. One last note, The "guys"need so much for their home, I went out on a risky limb, asking for big ticket tiems, washer mower fridge...linens, beds, dressers, dishes....you name it...in 24 hours...I had it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God is so wonderful, and to put so many loving hearts in my path...I am full today..and can't wait for a back yard BBQ!
God is good.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Heading to Haiti in the Middle of the week, in the Middle of the night...tensions are palpable. 20 member team,16 have never been to Haiti, 3 teens with a parent, 3 college students, one young adult, three mid thirties, couple of middle age, several...older than 50...diversity with age and ethnicity as well. It was a amazing selection of a group, as if it was pulled for a research study for the APA.
We went to help Earthquake victims we hoped...And so we did. We could feel the tension in the city with those who are hungry, those who are not being served because the govt is afraid. There are tent villages everywhere, there is missionary presence no where. We stayed a week in the suburbs of two different cities, Cite Solie and Terra Norre, never once saw the military, never once saw a second group of missionaries giving our aid, never once saw anyone willing to give of them selves. Even the Haitians won't help each other, it was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. Where is the human spirit of kindness and compassion gone? Where is the barn raising feelings of you help me, we'll help you...it's like America...I've got mine...best of luck to ya'.
The children however are amazing, they literally outworked most of us, for a hug for a jolly rancher for a slim jim for a swallow of American water. We should all be so ashamed, witnessing before us slave trade labor, "I'll work for food." While Haitians able bodies watched as if they were watching a train wreck...but the minute we handed out food to our sweet workers, there are their hands. I could get bitter and angry...I'm not, just disappointed in Gods people who are defeated in a society that apparently very few care about. Where is the Red Cross? Where is UNICEF? Where are those helping the 400,000 living in tent cities, being rained on two nights in a row while I was there....anticipating "The Rainy Season". I've camped one w/e in the "rainy season" it was enough to make me come unglued..and head out of the rainy season.
We worked daily to improve lives by building on home completely, move in ready for one family, change for a life time, joy realized by touching the lives of a family that will go on for ever. We removed the earthquake ruins of two home by the time we left, so now two families will begin rebuilding upon our departure. We left enough money to complete one additional home for yet another family, tricking-ling the benefits of our money onward. We handed out food for those who helped us work daily at our sights, children mostly while so many Haitians teens watched as they would watch a car wreck. Disappointing at times to see the unwavering and unwillingness of people not wanting to help those who have the benefits of American help.
We handed out jolly ranchers, super balls, slim jims, discreetly handing gallon size bags of food to families starving, graciously accepting and giving thanks to God. There is so much to be done, and so little people to help, makes me wonder daily are we doing all we can. Can a few individuals really make a difference? Jesus started off with 12 disciples, I believe Yes...we can make a difference, we just must remain focused on the needs of others and not on ourselves. True giving of ourselves as Jesus teaches us in His Word.
The week ended all too quickly, and our team quickly dissolved into the "American" resolve to get back home, "It's hot, I'm getting eaten alive, I'm tired of beans and rice, I'd do it differently if I led, I have only two outfits to wear, we are running out of water, did you bring band aids, when are we leaving, how much longer, why can't we throw them dollars? I only want to give them two dollars not three,..." The list goes on, could we really be put in a situation where we are uncomfortable for a lifetime, or is it just best to give of ourselves if we aren't asked to be uncomfortable? We have a lot to learn, we have miles to go...but I am grateful to have taken a team of 20 to show them true poverty, true discomfort, the privileged of clean drinking water everyday, a floor with a real structure.
How are you willing to give...are you willing to go without for the betterment our our brothers and sisters in Christ who need us? Only you can say...Jesus says..."I am willing."..Me too. I pray to give more, to have less, to stretch myself beyond my borders and my own comfort zone...I want to stand for something..Oppression among His people. A voice for those who cannot speak. July 21-28 we return to Haiti, will you go?
Friday, March 26, 2010
It's been awhile, In Coalminers Daughter Loretta Lynn Says "Dew...my life is going to fast...." I feel that way too. I can't get it all done, God reminds me I'm not supposed to.
Many have asked about "James"...he's moved out and moved on. Not heard of since. Vanished, as quickly as he appeared. I'd bet embarrassed, but may be, just maybe, he'll want to prove me wrong and be successful... James had a deadline to meet, Jan 31st, 3 months to the date of when we moved him in, expecting and asking for nothing in return, except...honesty. To him I'm sure he was honest, to me he with held the truth. We gave him our car, I taught him how to recycle metal, some weeks he made up to $600 per week, we moved him in, asking for nothing except common courtesy, "will you be coming home?" Often, he'd disappear for days, no calls.
He led a reclusive and allusive life, no friends...really, no family. He's quite an anomaly, but yet I cared about him and I wanted only the best for him, knowing we can only want that for ourselves. He wanted it to a degree, I could see hope, he commented on our family life, how lucky we were to have such a beautiful family, children, the American dream so to speak. He heard us argue, sat at our dinner table, slept in our living room, did his laundry, played with our dogs...the children were polite to him, giving up "their party room" for James...it was a sacrifice for them. A good one.
James kept telling me he was getting his "retirement check soon." He actually received three($3000 a month) while living here, so he said, I never saw them. He told me he was buying a truck by the end of the three months in order to give us our truck back, he missed the deadline...I never saw "the truck" he purchased.
It just didn't add up in the end, he disappeared with our truck for 5 days...I called the police(my brother in law) and asked him to watch out for him, called a mutual friend knowing word would trickle out...He called me back ASAP..screaming at me...I was taken back and hurt...I'm a little too Pollyanna, I had the whole success story right in my consciousness...it was going to be a book. Not really, it ended all the wrong way. James had a Suspended License, (failed to mention that), he owed back taxes, (failed to pay those 8 years ago) Govt found him when he began receiving pension checks. This is what he tells me, he's also had cancer, a stroke, he's twisted his ankle, he had an arrhythmia in his heart...My patience ran out.
We said farewell to James. Within two days...James the homeless man was back to sleeping on the streets, carrying his bag, just the way I met him, over one year ago.
I pray for James, I actually look for hm all the time in the city. My friends at the recycle center say he's still coming in daily...that's progress. I pray he saw God's light in us...perhaps one day we'll see each other again...Heaven I hope.
I've realized, I can't change a soul, EVER...I can only love them. And I truly do get disappointed in people, it seems so simple...but it's not. James used to tell me all the time "Cassie, I have Demons." I quickly reminded him, "We all do."
Only God can heal us...when will I get it? Good Bye James.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Well, we are onto phase two of what God is calling us to do... "teach my people." No matter what we do, we find our way into their hearts, they find their ways into ours. It's always mutual, never one way. We started tutoring for those who were interested in learning more, we were amazed to see how many adults, some in their 60's unable to read and barely write, want to earn their GED, it is so gratifying to see a room full of folks who come an hour early just to sit with a tutor to have one hour of undivided time. The students range from 4-64, our tutors range from 7-84, everyone has so much to offer. It is one of the most beautiful sights to see. My friend Barbara(80) gives her student a wrath of her disappointment for not doing his homework, whew...I was glad she wasn't my teacher. It is all good though, structure and accountability is something we all need. Mavaghn is in foster care and is brought by his grandmother who is studying for her GED, she can't even read to her grand-daughter, she struggles. We wonder why poverty is so rampant, there are so many layers to it. God just keeps revealing one layer after another, where there is work still to be done.
What do I see? I see children and adults so grateful for one individual to give them so much of their loving time. Tutors who come out on a Wednesday night to love someone just because...because we are called to do so. I am thrilled to be a part of such a body, it's an exciting time in my life, to see God working right before my eyes. One student(adult) asks how long we will tutor? As long as God keeps sending the people...all the people.
Thanks be to God for equipping us all, for opening our hearts, and for students who have made themselves vulnerable to Gods healing.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Dearest My friends and strong supporters,
First and foremost, I give a gracious hug and squeeze to so many who gave Christmas to our friends at the Freemarket. This by far, has been one of THE most rewarding times in my life as a Christian and our life as a ministry. To look at all the gifts under the NHPC tree for friends we KNOW(and you don't know them but trust us) and love, was an unbelievable feeling of Gods amazing love for me and others in this city.
Highlights: Dawn's family squealed with joy when the presents arrived: Celina says "I can't believe we get so many presents." LaRon loved his bike.
Eureka was so grateful for Sean Patrick's remote control car and Joshua's Guitar.
Jordon's favorite was his shoes.
Tanisha & Rueben were overwhelmed with the outpouring of love to their entire family. So many members made such a huge difference in their lives and drove straight to their humble two bedroom duplex home fit hardly for two, five crammed in there.
Paul loved his gifts of candy & coffee, Emma was blown away, her roommates were grateful we sang carols to them. They requested "silent night."
The bus tickets, Barbara's coat and gas card and tennis shoes, she's a hoarder with no heat, and no water, but was filled with gratitude that a "stranger" cared for her.
There are too many stories to tell, but I know the importance of you knowing how your gifts affected people, trust me when I say, your love of Christ was a Bright light in so many lives. Last but certainly not least, James....My Homeless friend James, who now resides in our home while we work on housing with him, received $120.00 in gas cards, a new coffee pot and coffee, new shirts and his favorite, a carton of cigarettes, shared Christmas morning and Christmas breakfast with our children, was "speechless." He unwrapped his gifts like a child, opened his stocking and sat at our table a humbled man. We have no idea what God is doing in his life or ours, we just know we have to be patient and see what God reveals to all of us. Having James in our lives has changed us, challenged us, grown us, and we are being stretched beyond what we knew we could ever do. Still, we haven't many answers about his future, but God has taught JT & I we must be patient and learn not to judge and be gracious for all we have to offer, even when it's inconvenient, and yes, at times it is.
The year brought many challenges, and many gifts of relationships, which is what our goal is...Loving others, healing them through Christ's power as only He can do. We spend time with our friends and begin letting them know how important they are to us and how important Christ is in their lives. They can only make changes believing in Him who can do anything with their help in action steps.
We gave lots of new clothing, sheets & blankets away, with the abundant help of Wyndham Va Crossings Hotel, Amy Hanna has been the most amazing support with her linens and housewares.Giving those who could never afford new sheets and towels, all they could ever dream of. Thanks so much Amy.
We gave out 150 new backpacks and supplies, donated 2-300 lbs of loose supplies to Elijah House in honor of Eureka Pendleton, FM/NM member who works tirelessly to fill her life with Christ, to see the difference in her has been amazing, watching her trust God and not people is what JT & I strive for every day.
Volunteers from VCU(students) who gave completely of their heart, filling out time sheets and in return learned many valuable lessons and gained much insight into poverty, and what very little can do in the life of a hurting soul.
Toys for Tots helped us this year, Velocity Church & Liberty Christian came back for a second year, Circle of Friends came and helped immensely. NHPC, gave more than ever, so much that we couldn't keep up with the donations. We are now looking at sharing our wares with other non profit organizations.
We received a huge donation from the community of Glen Allen, 75 new presents from NHPC, Sara Smith's preschool rallied and filled a home with gifts for three children by themselves.So many are seeing the true meaning of the ministry, building relationships for Christ.St. Catherine's teen Marshall Moore was instrumental in giving out five entire meals for Thanksgiving, one 16 year only teen making a difference in lives of five families. Marshall Moore(16) forgo her own Christmas presents and gave them all to the Webb/Tate family, showing her father her true heart.
So much to do, so much has happened, so easy to do with a little time, money and a lot of Hope in our Lord and Savior.
We look forward to our second year in ministry, we give a Huge "thank you" to the support of Northminster Church, who continues to support us in so many ways. We look into 2010 with a vision of Education/Tutoring, knowing that is one of few ways to escape the cycle of poverty; tutoring Children and adults in time. We are looking into housing and micro loans to those in need of a "HandUp", not a hand out. We feel God's support and blessings, none of this could ever of happened without Him, He who believes in us and sees our true heart. He knows when we are doing it for Him, versus us.
I challenge you all to focus on what God is calling YOU to do in 2010, it may NOT be the happenings of the FreeMarket, but use your gifts that God has given you special. Our gifts are different, but meant for His Glory in the years to come.
If you want to get more involved with the FM or tutoring or micro loans or housing, let me know, I'd love to share with you our vision and Hope for Northside.
We go to Haiti in April, if you want to go...you are welcome, get your passport and see what real poverty does do to the lives of children around the globe, and see for yourself what God can only do when we listen to Him.
Humbly, I give Him thanks first, and I'm so thankful for all of your support. Forward this on please to your friends who have given through you. Thanks to Glen Allen Baptist who sees our vision as well, and has NOT given up on what they can do for Him. Thanks to all, whom I could not thank individually.
Cassie & JT Matthew
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”