40 Years in America
It was Christmas Eve, 1980. As a center member in Baltimore, I was preparing to go fundraising with the rest of the team but there was no holiday joy in my heart. The thought of fundraising on such a major holiday seemed cruel and pointless. I remember that the drive to our fundraising area that day was unusually quiet and gloomy. To make matters worse the sky was very dark gray and it was definitely going to rain!
The team leader (Tony Snodgrass) and I were the last ones to get out of the van. I knew he was struggling also. I could see him across the street, methodically going from door to door. He looked as lonely and small as I felt. I couldnít understand why we were doing this.
No one was buying anything. Every time I looked over to where he was I got angrier. Why did we have to do this on Christmas Eve? Seeing the warm yellow glow inside each house made me homesick. When someone answered their door and I could see inside where the families were all enjoying the holiday together, my heart felt as though it would break from loneliness.
We werenít out very long before it started to rain. I wasnít wearing a raincoat. I didnít have an umbrella, so it didnít take long for me to get completely wet, even through my coat and down to my underwear. I looked over at Tony. I was sure the rain would call a halt to this craziness, but he just kept going. The rain turned to freezing rain and ice began to cover everything. The trees, grass and sidewalks were soon covered with sheets of ice. So we had to walk on the grass to keep from falling down. My hair was frozen and my eyebrows were covered with ice. I had goosebumps on top of goose bumps! I could hardly move my mouth to speak. I was soooooo negative that I cried in between each house. My face was raw from the freezing rain so the tears burned on their way down only to freeze on my chin. What a mess! When the mothers answered their doors, all I could get out of my mouth was "h, I fnra fr m chch."
They would look at me in horror and slam the door without saying a word. (Maybe it was the blue lips!) I remember thinking to myself, "Itís Christmas Eve and you donít even know who I am or why Iím here. Canít you see that Iím suffering! Donít you care?" I couldnít bear the rejection; it hurt more then being cold.
With each passing minute I got angrier and more frustrated. Why are we out here on this holiday? The people donít want us here! They think weíre out of our minds, and we are! I thought for sure Tony would be coming across the street to tell me it was time to go home, but when I glanced across the street I could no longer see him. This was too much. My teeth were chattering uncontrollably, I was freezing to my bones and hurting real bad. All that was more bearable to me then the negative feelings in my heart.
As I stood there on someoneís frozen grass, I shook my fist at the sky and screamed at God, "Why am I here, God? What purpose does all this have? You tell me what value this has in the scheme of eternity!" Suddenly I went into a trance-like state and had a vision. I was looking at Father when he was a young man in a North Korean prison. He was standing outside with the other prisoners; they were lined up and the guards were shouting at them. It was very cold; you could see their breath freezing as it came out of their mouths. The sound of the prisonersí chattering teeth sounded like thunder.
As I observed this scene I became acutely aware of Fatherís suffering and I began to cry. Suddenly my own suffering paled and at the same time became infinitely precious because it connected me to Father in a very deep way. As that realization took root in my mind and heart, I felt a touch on the top of my head. It was warm and soothing. It started at the top of my head and made me warm all the way down to my toes. My clothes were still cold and wet but I was comfortably warm. I felt wrapped up in Godís embrace. It felt like my heart was touching Fatherís heart. It was intoxicating!
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