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Last night was the first gathering of Engage. There are so many feelings, doubts and joys wrapped up in the beginning of a new adventure. I think it went well. It's an odd feeling to work with a team to prepare something, put it out there and hope God used it to connect with people. You want immediate feedback. What can be better? What was helpful? But it doesn't quite work that way.

So we do our best and trust God. Easier said than done. But I hope I'm learning to do that better with each ministry I'm apart of. I'm looking forward to our big feast and communion next week.

I was putting away the last bit of tables and materials when I saw my husband had sent a text asking me to bring home the apple juice we left in the fridge. I grabbed it, left some things in my office, locked the front door and headed outside. I noticed it was 9:15pm. Long day. Did get 22,000 steps on my pedometer.

It was then that I saw a young girl dragging a bag across the icy parking lot to the bus stop in front of our church. I asked if she was catching the bus and she said yes. I said, "At least it's not too cold anymore." She laughed and said yeah. It was about 26 degrees.

I walked towards my car at the end of the parking lot. I felt the Holy Spirit laugh at me. "Really?"

"That's all you've got? 'At least it's not cold anymore.'"

I got in my car and drove over to where she was dragging several bags to the bus stop. I asked if she wanted help moving her bags. She hesitated for a couple seconds as she decided whether to trust me or not. She nodded yes. We threw her bags in my car and her story spilled out. I asked what she had in all the bags. She said, "it's my whole life."

Rachel is 18 years old. She was put into foster care at 3 years old. She was adopted at 9 and after a while was back in foster care because the family had some financial emergencies. Rachel's been in 3 foster homes since then. She had just been discharged from foster care 30 minutes before I met her in the parking lot. She was taking the bus to the Covenant House downtown. She was grateful for a ride.

I learned a lot from Rachel in our time together. She loves cauliflower, carrots and apple juice. Glad the leftover Engage food was in my car. She had a good job and was looking forward to her paycheck on Friday. Rachel was thankful she didn't have a car because she didn't have to navigate the one-way streets downtown.

We pulled up to Covenant House and she asked for my card so she could visit us sometime. I gave her one of our McDonald's gift cards we keep in our cars to give away and some other food coupons I'd been carrying around as well. She turned to me, clutching the gallon apple juice bottle, and said, "Have you seen the movie Pay it Forward?" I said yes. "I love that movie. And I really believe in helping the people who help me. I'm going to pay all this forward to someone else." We unloaded her bags, hugged and she headed inside.

God is good.


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