KOH2RVA: Day 360

calendarThis is when I begin to wonder if I’ve been counting correctly…

If today—Wednesday—is Day 360 of KOH2RVA, then Thursday will be Day 361, Friday will be Day 362, Saturday will be Day 363, and Sunday will be…Day 364.

That doesn’t seem right.

We’re planning to celebrate the end of our year-long, every-member mission trip on Sunday. We’ve already made all the plans. The RVA United band is going to be in the gym at 9:30 that morning. We’re going to hear testimonies from our friends at the Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School, Glen Lea Elementary, and Essex Village Apartments. We’re going to watch some of the KOH2RVA videos and wind things up with a kaleidoscope of images from our mission trip set to a song about “heaven coming down to the earth.”

Do I need to reschedule all that for Monday, Day 365?

And then I remember: we started KOH2RVA on Sunday, September 9, 2012, and this Sunday—while it is the second Sunday in September—is September 8, 2013, a day short of the full 365 but close enough to call.

I’m calling it. And I’m calling it good.

In the past few days I’ve had a number of letters, calls, and emails from people wanting to reassure me that they had actually gotten “off the bus and onto the mission field” during the year. You read Chloe Buchanan’s moving testimony on Day 354. Pratt Stelly’s story (and funny video) was published on Day 355. On Monday I learned that someone who has been looking for a way to get off the bus all year went over to Glen Lea Elementary and participated in the “Sidewalk Chalk of Love” event. And then yesterday I got a letter from Elmer and Betsy West with an end-of-the-year report on their mission endeavors that moved me nearly to tears. Elmer and Betsy are having a hard time getting to church these days, but that’s not keeping them from being on mission right there at Imperial Plaza where they live.

I may get more cards, letters, and emails today. I may find that everybody comes to church on Sunday ready to celebrate KOH2RVA with their own stories of participation. While I believe that many more of our members than usual have been on mission this year, I may find—to my amazement—that every member has been involved in one way or another.

And I may find that the Kingdom of heaven has come closer to Richmond, Virginia, than any of us could have imagined.

KOH2RVA: Day 355

Pratt1Pratt Stelly sent me this wonderful story about how she “got off the bus and onto the mission field,” and I love the way she didn’t limit herself to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia. While that’s been a great way to focus our mission, it was never meant to restrict us, to keep us within the city limits.

Pratt certainly didn’t let it restrict her.

Dear Dr. Somerville:

As the year draws to a close, I want you to know that I got off the bus both literally and figuratively. But first let me back up a bit. In the spring I attended the Missions Fair in the Dining Hall. I was drawn to the darling baby hats that the SKEINS group knit and sent to an orphanage in South Africa. I have not knit in quite a while, but I figured I would give it a try. I was given a pattern right there on the spot and stopped to buy yarn on my way home from church! I knit 10 hats before I left for China to visit my son in June.

Pratt2And this is where I got off the bus. While you want to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, I feel like we should bring the Kingdom of Heaven wherever we are in the world. I took my hats to Tibet in hopes of finding an orphanage, but could not find one that took babies. And then I had a thought, why not give the hats to needy people I passed on the street. Words cannot describe my joy in seeing the appreciation in the eyes of the child and parent. While we did not speak the same language, we shared the feeling of love for one another, and that is what it is all about.

The picture and movie clip attached were taken at a roadside pit stop on our way back from Mt. Everest. I spotted this little girl who was with her mother selling trinkets by the road. They were very poor and there was little hope for this child to have a normal life. While I could not take her home in my suitcase to give her a better life, I could give her a hat and say a little pray over her. Just looking at her in the pictures and video have made this mission worthwhile, and I will cherish her little smile as long as I live.

So thank you for getting me off the bus and I will continue to knit and give hats wherever I am.

Pratt

It was Mother Teresa who said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

I think Pratt has shown us how.

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Bonus Reel: Here’s a creative and funny video someone made of Pratt’s China adventures, including the episode with the little girl and the hat.  Priceless!