Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Door-to-door Jam

A few months ago I was pondering how to become engaged in my community, more specifically with those in my neighborhood. I have met a lot of people through tennis which has been nice. And many of our immediate neighbors are pretty friendly, though we're not always in the loop as we have no kids. However, there are still several on our block I've never met or don't know their names, most particularly our neighbor immediately to our right. I was trying to figure out how to meet everyone. At Halloween a lot of neighbors gather in the cul-de-sac to have a potluck and pass out candy, but that's only once a year. I had thought about hosting a social or something, but we've been too busy to add another event.

About a month ago I picked strawberries and made waaaaaay too much freezer jam. I decided that passing it out would be a great way to say hi and connect. Who doesn't like strawberry jam, right? (Apparently Neal doesn't.) So I settled on that idea, but have been remiss in following through. Part of it is not knowing when people are home. The other part is I'm not particularly outgoing and the idea of going door to door (even though I'm not selling something) makes me a little nervous.

Recently I've been praying for courage because I know it's something that needs to be done (and the jam is taking up too much space in the freezer). Yesterday afternoon, as I was preparing to go to the gym, I figured it was as good a time as any to drop some off to people so I put six containers in a cooler and headed out. I figured it wouldn't take long. Two and a half hours later I realized I was not visiting the gym that day.

My first stop was our neighbor two doors down. I knew that the woman worked from home so I figured she would be available. Unexpectedly she invited me in to sit and talk. She shared that it seemed like good timing because her family had just learned a week or two before that her husband has cancer. They removed it but he still has to go through radiation. She asked for prayer. Apart from that, I learned a lot about her and her family. It made me thankful that I was finally being faithful to what I needed to do.

My second and third stops were to next door neighbors who were outside. We all chatted for a bit. One of the women is someone I have spent more time with than most of the other neighbors. It wasn't very long, but I passed out jam to both of them.

The fourth stop was to a family I had only spoken to at the Halloween potluck. I learned that the husband recently had surgery and is on disability. They were preparing to go to the pool so I didn't stay very long.

The fifth visit was up the street to the police officer's house. I hadn't really talked to him since Halloween either. He was a little skeptical about my purpose until I told him I lived three houses down. He remembered my husband and asked how Adam was doing. Kind of funny to me.

My last stop of the afternoon was to a house whose inhabitants I had never met. I had seen the woman going in to the house on the way up to number five so I knew someone was home. I rang the door bell and waited as a dog barked inside. I waited long enough that I didn't think anyone was coming. As I was headed back down the driveway the front door opened. So I met the lady and told her who I was. We talked for a while on her front porch. She's lived here since the beginning of the neighborhood. At one point she asked what I was doing and I told her I was trying to meet some of the neighbors and gave her the jam. She's very friendly.

All in all a very successful first venture. Not at all what I had anticipated. Much, much better in fact. I still have a number of other houses to visit, including our next door neighbor, but I am very encouraged after yesterday. I don't really know what all will come of this, but I am enjoying the process all the same as it's stretching me a little.

How has God been stretching you? How do you engage your community?

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