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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Feeding His Lambs

John 21:15  NRSV
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
"Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?"
He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."

When our daughter Alida was 16, she asked our permission to join a group of adults and young people for a two-week trip to Bosnia, where they would run day camps for children.  The trip was sponsored by our church's New Jersey synod.  The purpose?  To give these children, who lived with the grim shadows of their civil war all around them, a day of pure fun . . . and to let them know that people cared.

Her father and I discussed it; we decided that 16 was too young for this.
We told her to wait a year, and see if she still wanted to go.
She did.
With some many misgivings, and after prayer and much discussion, we said Okay.

But I asked her, wouldn't it be better to send money to Bosnia,
for rebuilding, for job creation, for schools?
Why did a bunch of Americans
have to go and play with Bosnian children?

Because of Alida's age, Howard and I went to the planning meetings for this trip.
Not surprisingly, this question came up from more than one parent:
why not fund raise and send funds, instead of yourselves?

The trip coordinator, Jason Reed, quoted the Bible verse I put at the beginning of this post.

In that post-Resurrection conversation,
Jesus tells Peter to feed His lambs.

To feed a newborn lamb takes patience, and presence;
you can't just throw food at it from a distance.
You need to hold it, and bottle feed it, and care for it faithfully.  It needs you to be there.

That, said Jason, is why we go.  We are feeding His lambs,
feeding them with our love and care, our games and laughter and song.

Those weren't his exact words -- it's been a long time -- but you get the idea.
And I got it, too, and (kind of reluctantly) understood.

 The physical presence of the Americans
among these children was in itself a gift to them.

I thought of Jason and his explanation today, as Anne and I helped bring bagged lunches
to people who have lost so much in the recent flooding.
They were hungry as they cleaned out their sodden living rooms
and began hacking at their walls and flooring; the food was certainly welcome.
That's daughter Anne knocking on the door; no one was home at this house.

But I realized as we moved through this once-lovely neighborhood, that being there was also important.
Waiting for the trash trucks.

It means a lot.  If you've been in a similar circumstance, you know what I mean.
Even the smallest kindness, like a simple bagged lunch, and a smile, can lift your spirits.

Someone came.  Someone cares.

Annie has gone back to school; classes and her work start tomorrow.
But I will be joining the other church ladies for as long as there is need,
feeding His lambs.

Thank you Anne and Judy and Emily for being the runners for the red minivan today!

Best comment of the day:
Elderly lady, sitting amidst the rubble of her home, to Anne:  "Where are you from again?"
Anne:  "The Lutheran church on the Turnpike."
Elderly lady:  "Ah, trying to show up the Reformed Church, are ya?"
How did she know?  :-)
I'm afraid I can't remember how many times Alida went back to Bosnia.  Four?  Five?
I can't say that those two weeks each summer weren't fraught with anxiety for me,
and seeing her come through customs at Kennedy Airport each time was a great joy.

Alida has written about a few of her experiences in Bosnia on a blog (like mother, like daughter).
Some posts are book reviews, others are about the trips.
You can visit Journeys of a Jersey Girl by clicking here.

And special for my Jersey Girl who now lives in California,
a final flood picture for today, of a favorite high school destination:

Anne and I drove through this little downtown area on our way home from church;
the waters have left the streets and shops, but it's a massive cleanup job.

I'm sorry I am not posting my usual stuff,
and I apologize for not getting to as many of your posts as I'd like;
I'll be back in form soon, I promise!  -- Cass


  1. Sometimes you have to keep it real - and it doesn't get more real than this. Thanks for the view from where you were today.

  2. There are times when we have better things to do than blog!! What good people you are!


  3. God Bless you Cass ! My area hasn't really been effected by all of this and just seeing your pictures makes it so real for me- you're just down the parkway from me after all.

    I remember on 9/11 - my Mo and I were in charge of our church carnival that week. It got cancelled, obviously. So we all got together and cooked the carnival food and my husband's bakery trucks drove it down to the workers at ground Zero. It felt so right to do all of this - my parish was hit very hard that day, we lost several, including our beloved priest. Thank you for reminding me that it's time to get off my sorry duff (feeling sorry for myself and my son these last 5 years) and feed His, OUR people.


  4. You don't need to apologize. What you are doing is a lot more important than blogging.

  5. You are a blessing to those who receive the lunches that were made with loving care.

    My hubby & I have been on several mission trips to the jungles of Honduras & Nicaragua. My Mom was nervous the whole time, but, physically being there to help the villagers build their church was what made the difference rather than just sending money!

  6. Bless you, Cass, how wonderful.

  7. What a wonderful thing to do. So sad what people have lost.

  8. Our immediate area was spared the flodding but not far away it was just like you described.
    Prayers to those who lost so much!!

  9. I want to link to this post today.
    I love the reasoning behind sending people, not just money. So awesome. I also love that you show that we can "feed lambs" right in this country too. Thanks for caring!

  10. My friend Becky at Hospitality Lane sent me over! I know first hand what the kindness of strangers means! My Sister's house flooded two years ago and she lost everything! It was the simplest of kind deeds that touched our hearts! Someone stopping by with a bag of ice for our coolers while we worked to rebuild or an offer of a helping hand! I firmly believe in helping! Thanks for sharing the post from your heart! HUGS!

  11. Hi there - came over from Becky's house - glad I did! Great post about your daughter's loving heart and helping others in need. Our church does these things, too, and I watched my kids go on missions trips to Mexico. When I went, too, I realized that I came away more blessed than the native people. I'm glad your girl insisted on going - she's a dear and I know she'll spend her life giving to others. And that's what it's all about!

  12. Massive clean up indeed! Wow.

    What a neat thing you all are doing there - serving the Lord through caring for people!


  13. What a great way to spread cheer.
    We here in the Midwest feel the pain of those on the coast.
    Wishing for recovery for all.

    Keep up the good work!


  14. Loved your post! You are definitely showing up us REFORMED people :) Best wishes and hugs to all!

  15. Never apologize for sharing the Savior's word. This was a great story. Thanks for sharing.


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