27 Dec A Joyful Year at SOS – 2018 recap
Each year, we’re grateful for the people we meet, families we serve, and connections we make. This year is no different. Throughout 2018, we’ve been able to restore roofs over families in Memphis, support local students, train and mentor future professionals, and so much more. Each program had unique stories to share that highlight the impact our community, the people we serve, have on our hearts and lives.
Summer at SOS is a whirlwind and we often recall it as such. By God’s grace, fruit grows in that chaos every summer. One of the most beautiful is the family that He knits together out of 45 on-site summer staffers, eight off-site staff, 10 high school staff and our full-time staff.
We opened the doors on Thursday, May 24, and welcomed some combination of total strangers, former campers turned staffers and returning staffers to SOS. We ate, played the name game, worshiped together, learned the history and decades-old dreams of SOS, and were charged to carry SOS another summer to that vision.
Then it happened. We spent days and weeks working hard, experiencing challenges and exhaustion, remembering our “why” and claiming hope. We woke up really early and started our day together reading God’s hard, true, beautiful, refining love letter to us. We ate a lot of breakfast biscuits and felt sticky every chicken and waffle Friday (syrup is stickier than sin, people!). We learned how to roof a house and even more from the family who called it home. We played icebreaker games with campers every Sunday, ate hot dogs and hamburgers every Friday, flirted with heat exhaustion regularly, blessed the rains, danced and clapped. We welcomed campers every week and worked to affirm their identity as God’s most beloved creation called to an important job by our care, example, work, words, posture and prayers.
Then it happened again. The last campers left and we wrapped up our summer together, having become a family somewhere in the middle of it all. We knew ourselves and God better and we were known in this place, safe, supported and loved.. God had worked to affirm each of our identities as His most beloved creation, called to an important job to serve and protect. And He made us into a really odd little family that loved each other well and deep. The goodbyes proved it; they were hard and sad, but flavored with joy, hope and great thanksgiving.
In 70 days of God-honoring chaos, a forever family was born.
SOS Builds 2018 is almost wrapped up and we have had a blast this year with the Builders and all the projects they’ve completed. It’s been a full year of basketball shooting, devotional learning and nail driving memories. We have seen the Builders grow and learn their way through tough questions like, “Why was there a snake in the garden to begin with?” or “What are the steps to operating a miter saw?” Whether it’s faith-related, construction-based, or even about life in general, we enjoy watching Builders come week after week ready to ask new questions and learn more about God.
Nature B., one of our Builders, was new to SOS Builds in 2018 and fit right in immediately with our little family. He instantly began asking really tough questions during devotionals that would, more often than not, leave us scratching our own heads! Even during shop time he told us on many occasions how he wants to be an engineer when he grows up. Nature loves building things and his skills in the shop continue to impress us every week. We’re excited to have him with us as we move into 2019.
The work done through SOS Academy is immense and impactful. To exemplify the program, I want to share one of the highlights, our Vision trip with Sidney (our one intern in 2018) to Rwanda. One moment in particular really stands out to me.
We were in Northern Rwanda in a rural village visiting a newly constructed library. This library was built by the community and has become a social center of sorts in the village, especially the children. While visiting, we saw several young girls who were playing a “Simon says” sort of game. Sidney took some initiative to go meet them and ask to play. It was a beautiful interaction. These girls slowly demonstrated and instructed Sidney how to play, despite a language barrier.
Two things struck me about this. One, we visit Rwanda to truly “go and see” how God’s Kingdom is being brought forth in that place and how Rwandans are participating in that work. Sidney, in a very simple and mundane way, truly embodied a spirit of humility by approaching these girls and asking them to teach her how to play. Two, there was so much joy and laughter in this very small interaction. It reminded me that we get to see a glimpse of God’s Kingdom being brought forth, heaven coming to Earth, in these small, human moments.
SOS Homeowners and the Home Repair program
Each year we sift through lots of home repair applications and complete just as many home assessments in order to determine which roofs are in the most dire need of repair.
Miss Sarah is a widow who lives with and cares for her 57-year-old autistic son in Orange Mound. She applied to get assistance with her roof in hopes that we’d be able to replace it. She has done her best to keep up with repairs on her home since her husband passed away but caring for her son is a full-time job, both for her energy and her pocketbook. Always positive, Miss Sarah knew the Lord would provide a replacement for her leaking roof some way or another, and we were delighted to let her know we would be able to partner with her in the summer of 2018.
Due to the length of the application and repair process, we are given lots of opportunities to build relationships with homeowners and this time it was no exception. Miss Sarah has been handed many challenging circumstances in her life, including losing two husbands and raising a son with special needs, but she has used those things as a catalyst to choose joy and help those around her see the positive things in life. Throughout the summer, Miss Sarah often invited the volunteers to enjoy their lunch and devotionals inside so that they could cool off from the hot heat, and she would use this time to share experiences from her life. Proverbs 17 says, ‘a cheerful heart is good medicine’ and as we learned from Miss Sarah, it really is.
Each of these programs is uniquely valuable and critical to our mission. And, as a follower of SOS, we ask you to consider supporting these programs in 2019. With the support, through prayer, mentor ship or financial support, we’ll have more stories to share in 2019 and beyond.