Let me tell you about my weekend…
With great anticipation May 2-4 approached: Ruthie was coming home. Not that she wanted to come home, but after her two full years at Urban Promise Toronto it was time. For the entire time she was in Toronto we said that I was going to go visit. If you’ve been following her blog you know her well. And her love for the people in the communities where she has worked. You also accompanied her through the heartache of leaving Camp Peace and then watched as she fell in love with a new group of kids at Camp Victory.
So the time had came….. I was headed for Toronto to bring my daughter home.
I arrived at her intern director’s house at the appointed time. When it came time to leave I watched as the goodbyes started. Everyone was doing quite well until little Eli (who is four) figured out that Rumour would not be back and the tears started flowing. All the interns were there, some who were returning to UP to start summer program in a few weeks. Others who were headed back to their hometowns (and home countries) to begin their own new adventures. Everyone realized that things were going to be very different.
So Ruthie and her room-mates got in the van and we left for Jane and Finch. We stopped at the grocery store; for the past two years I have often wondered if Ruthie was eating right, or even if she was eating at all…… although they all looked quite healthy. We picked up supper and headed to the apartment.
In the evening we found my great-niece who is settling into Toronto for the summer as her cousin is leaving. She helped us pack up Ruthie’s two years of memories and of course I was pleased to be able to feed her (and the intern boys from down the hall) before we took her back to her place. Sleeping on Ruthie’s lumpy futon was an experience, although I’m not sure I did much sleeping.
Sunday morning arrived. Even though Camp Peace had closed Ruthie and the other interns had continued to go downtown on Sundays to pick up kids and take them to the Toronto Alliance Church. Today I would be part of that amazing routine. We packed up the van. She said her final good-byes to her room-mates, which was hard, but they both live in Southern Ontario so she’ll see them again (maybe soon). We drove to Yorkdale Mall to park the car and catch the subway to downtown.
As we were getting out of the van I looked down at my feet, where my dress shoes looked back up at me. They matched my tan slacks. “Ruthie I probably should change to more comfortable shoes eh?” So we got my black ones out “mom black goes with everything”. They really aren’t bad shoes, but with the tan slacks???? One of Ruthie’s little girls later said “My grandma has shoes like that. She has size 10 feet …You do too?” It was kind of cute, because at that point she took my hand.
And there was walking. Around the mall, to the subway, off the subway, under the tunnel to connect to the streetcar. Ruthie’s old intern partner Spencer and a couple of people from TAC were waiting for us as we got off the streetcar. Then to the neighbourhoods. Knocking on doors, the question “Are you coming to church?” At first lots of “No not today“….with Ruthie saying “well this is the last time I’ll be here” and then an extra hug good-bye.
Forty-five minutes later we were sitting in the second and third rows at TAC. Seven beautiful little kids among us. As the singing began I explained what was happening to the little boy beside me. He is only four and I don’t know if he had ever been in a service before. He said “I like ‘twinkle twinkle little star.’ ” If they had asked for favourites I would have suggested it; after all we do know who made those stars! They were great for the first twenty minutes then most of them got a little restless for the next twenty. (Okay they were really restless) but then they went out to Sunday School.
It apparently was Pentecost Sunday. And the pastor quietly entreated us to ask that the Holy Spirit fill us, so that we could experience God’s power and see Him work in our lives. People all through the church responded, and on this day of good-byes I realized again that as we love and serve Christ, yes, there are changes, but each day brings new and exciting experiences.
As the pastor spoke of the disciples speaking in languages, unknown to them, but understood by people in the crowd who were from different countries, I wondered if there was a language that the people from the Alexander Park community would understand. And then it hit me that the reason those little kids were at church there that morning is because the UP interns had been open to what the Lord would do in their lives. The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control, has been present in the neighbourhood. The language of God’s love is one that all of us broken people can understand. It is very exciting that Spencer is going to be an intern at TAC and the kids will still have him. I am sure others from the church will allow the Lord to speak through them and use them to reach out to those kids and their parents.
Our time downtown ended with pizza (complete with a rendition of “Jesus is my superhero” in Pizza Pizza) and donuts, and visiting in the courtyard with the kids and a few of their amazing moms. I watched as Ruthie said her good-byes. I heard the moms tell me how much they love my daughter and how special she has been to them and the kids. And we were off to catch the streetcar, to get to the subway, to get to the van, to start the long drive home.
Please pray for Ruthie, that she’ll find out where the Lord wants her to be and serve, after this regrouping time at home. Pray for Spencer, as he will be officially ministering again in the neighbourhood. Pray for TAC and their presence there. And if you know Him, ask the Lord what hearts He would use you to minister to.