The past 6 months have been less like a whirlwind and more like a tornado, of fundraising activities and awareness events, that is. Our 5th Annual Dinner felt like the culmination of three events wrapped into one, before the preparations and the asking of sponsors and auction items even began. We have a small board and an amazing group of volunteers, who by all means should be sending us a bill for their time and travels. But be as it is, they once again did their individual parts with detailed perserverence. At the end of the evening on Nov 16 at the Silver Palace, $11,320 was raised for our plumbing and electrical needs. We started late with the actual asking but believed through prayer that God WOULD show up. AND HE DID, and even showed off just a bit. He deserves to, afterall HE IS GOD. And our Volunteers, they know us, and put up with the chatter of praise, even chiming in at times. Everyone of them has a story of their own, a painful past of family or/and self, and now a dedication to our cause because of pain lived, moments faded into the past. I am convinced we could NOT do all that we are doing without them. We also have a huge group of friends praying for our specific needs. Not that we ask for sympathy, but rather because of our empathy, we ask for specific things and expect specific results. I believe God keeps showing up BIG just because of our FAITH!
The weeks preceeding our annual dinner came quickly, in the midst of several ladies struggling deeply, and one of our speakers bein treated unfairly. I felt somewhat defeated as I sat still waiting for GOD, only to receive a rather abrupt resignation email from our youngest board member. Being young is difficult enough, being young, needing to be needed and quick to act is detrimental. I know that at the end of the day I'll still be there for her as I have been for her the past 2 years. I do my best to give up my life to help them walk theirs. The mission is to love the people that God places in my life, without expectations and reservations. This is not an easy task, as I am reminded in the depth of my mind how much some of our ladies are suffering with long term sentences because of their unfair upbringings. Then it seems that this love and joy I am to have is nowhere to be found.
The lives of our ladies in the jail, have for the most part, begun with early childhood pain and strewn with hardships caused by bad choices, although many out of rebellious, aching soul. The thoughts of several struggling and one being treated unkind, were enough to hurt deeply. Partaking of the Veterans Day events, left me aching for my Step-Father, yet grateful for my group of Veterans that I call my brothers.
Our dinner came at a perfect time of needing distractions from emotional bondage and baggage. As I began to meet with our individual speakers, ladies that I had so deeply cared for, I realize quickly, that I am blessed by God to have them in my life as they are living theirs now, happy, whole and healthy. Their willingness to be involved in our ministry is the vision I had in the beginning; For them to help, once they were hopeful and healthy.
FOR TEN YEARS I've wondered what happened to the few pictures I speak often about, and thought had dissappeared in the midst of a painful divorce, pictures of pre-America days...1968-1972. WHY, you might ask? What would pictures mean after all this time.
BECAUSE.... I have loved the Veterans for a LONG TIME! I have loved the American Soldier much longer then my life in America! He came at CHRISTmas time to the Orphanage that I had to call home in Wunderburg, Germany. They came, the 101st Airborne, and gave to me, to us the little children who had little of anything but HOPE...HOPE that some day I / WE would be loved, that I could allow my heart to be what GOd made me to be! So socially awkward I was, so intraverted, so shy, hurting inside....But they came with their green dufflebags, and their Merry CHRISTmas signs, and GOd's Love, and they encouraged us, made us smile, if only for a minute, but they came because they cared! Now years later and my Father long gone; because of GOd's love I have lived by giving back to America, to the Soldiers I know, those I love and have become family, my Brothers and Sisters of The Wall Gang, my family of Veterans and Veteran supporters; they are also the helpers of the helpless and hopeless, because of GOd's Love.
I am not with them much now, because GOd has called me to help the despaired, the lifeless, 'the hopeless of another world'- the La Porte Cunty Jail. Many people have had no family as a child and so mnay a broken family instead....And that is part of the story of Mongo, no Father since age 2, an overworked Mother who tried hard.....enough commonality between us for me to talk about the love of GOD, ever precariously to keep this new friend, a brother, from turning away during 'The RIDE'....
Riding across America during the 3 weeks before our culmination in Washington D.C. on Memorial Day May of 2013 with the NVAR Ride, I was creating and filming my story, adding stories of veterans and listening, waiting for hours for videos to download, I knew why I needed to go on 'The RIDE!'
GOd's Love is such that Steve "The HeadDog" Moore, who escorted me safely across America on the NVAR Ride, would surprise me at our recent community event Recovery ROCKS! with brothers I rode thousands of miles across America with. One of those brothers is Bill 'Mongo' Luft, a Veteran I interviewed during the 'RIDE for Recovery', an amazing man with a gentle heart, although physically not seen, one who had allowed the life of childhood pains to push him deep inside himself.....
GOd's Love is such that on September 29, 2013, the day after our first and major community educational event Recovery ROCKS!, I began cleaning out the old partially empty boxes of previous events from years past, making room to store event items, because you know, 'in three days we start again with our 5th Annual Dinner, so let me make room now, and after an hour of moving books from shelves, reorganizing and grouping my little library in my rented house, I found what I had been wondering about off and on for the past ten years, MY PICTURES! I speak of them often when sharing my gratitude with new Veterans I meet, I thank them on the street, in the stores, in the halls, at events, I look for them so I can thank them, and share GOd's love, thru my story of how my Step-Father saved my sanity and my Heavenly Father saved my life.
GOd's Love is such that I have now found these pictures, myself in pre-America days, not knowing what my future would hold, not feeling much except existance; not knowing I would have an earthly father, so long of not knowing, that even now I live in expectations of what people say and don't do, because of childhood pain.....
GOd's Love is such that one who's been affected by His Love came from far this weekend, a Brother met on 'The RIDE' just a few months prior, such an amazing surprise from Mongo, my FAVORITE 101st Airborne living Veteran, a man who lived perhaps to share HOPE, to help me honor my Step-Father, to cry on 'The Ride' with me, to talk with me, to listen to me, to hear my heart, to share my understanding of why we should Love the Veterans, all of them....
I am so grateful that GOd blessed my life thru the life of my Step-Father, MSGT. Michael Wood, 101st Airborne, medically retired early from 19.75 years of active service not by choice, after 2 tours in Vietnam, two bouts of cancer, gone forever at 38 years and 3 days old, BUT alive forever because he too learned about GOd's Love, to forgive and that he needed forgiveness! Steve and Mongo, you have given me something amazing to remind me that I am loved, that GOd's Love is not limited to certain people or ideas, and that I have honored my Father well, and that you are Brothers, in my life..... FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS!
Awards are great for a moment, but the Ultimate Award is given every time someone shares their love with us by donating time or material, every time one of our ladies is doing well, every week when ladies come to the MRT program, partners who who give faithfully every month, everytime someone surprises us with a check, everytime someone does office work for 4-5 hours, Fundraisers for us, etc. All of these are a display of God's Love, because he loved all of us first. See, the Award is given to one person, the "Face" so to speak. But these Awards are not given because the "Face" to the mission is great or special. The Award is given as a result of the accomplishments and success of the organization. The organization is not one person, it is ALL OF THE ABOVE! The Owner, the President, the Founder, those are the "Faces; the employees, the volunteers, the helpers, those are the ones who create the success that makes the Award possible, and only because they believe in the Owner, the President or the Founder of the Company. They give their sweat and tears and time and energy out of devotion, out of love for the mission, not the "Face"! We hope that by our mission, our lifestyle, our testimony, our love that we portray the love of God, the need for Jesus. It is our main mission so that this Home will succeed well. The Ultimate Award will be our time in Heaven, forever, with the one who loved us first, God Himself, who was, and is and will always be. He pursues us and hopes that we will simply believe in Jesus, live for Jesus, love like Jesus. We know that people love us because God first loved them, like He did us! We are excited to see what happens, not only with our ladies, but all those who love us and perhaps now see a glimpse of God's love. AND In a day and age where the economy is so despairing and money is hard to give, we give thanks: For all(over 180) of our Volunteers, Contractors, LPHS Building Trades Class, Restaurant Owners, Friends, etc. who've saved us approximately $55,000 in demo work and food for our Crews. We thank God for choosing you, for loving us, and for sending you, for believing that our mission will continue to move forward. grateful, Sonshine
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