In part one of this series I asked: Who has rights to your refrigerator? (*) How many friends and neighbors feel comfortable enough in your home that they can open your frig and help themselves to its contents? Who are those that you feel most at home with to do the same in their home? in order for you to clearly begin to think about the community around you.
In the second part of this series I shared with you what began to transpire in our neighbor, just by meeting a need. I liken the experience to the boy with the five loaves and two fish. Imagine what he must have thought when he saw God multiply his meager offering to meet the need of thousands!? I can absolutely contest that our God is still in the miracle making business and He still uses common people with limited skills. In fact, all He needs is someone willing to step out of his or her comfort zone and be used by Him.
This time I’d like to give you just a glimpse of what He began to do next in our little neighborhood that caused everyone to want to be a part of something so wonderful.
Our goal was to make a directory for our newly forming neighborhood so that we all could begin to get to know one another. I mentioned in Part 2 that we sent out a questionnaire;
This is part of what the cover letter said:
Our neighborhood is growing larger each month and it’s becoming more and more difficult to get to know each addition to our neighborhood. In an effort to make it easier we would like to start a neighborhood directory. It is also our hope in starting the directory to be able to reach out and help our neighbors in their times of need; examples: meals, house or pet-sitting, etc.
If you would like to participate, please fill out the enclosed information sheet…
At the bottom of the questionnaire we added the “Neighbor Helping Neighbor” section:
I’d be willing to help others by:
____ Making a meal occasionally
____ Yard Work
____ Help in General ________________________________________________
(Area of Specialty)
How might we be able to help you?
We were shocked at how people responded. We honestly hadn’t planned to even include this part to the questionnaire, and we were amazed with what we got back. Just about everyone filled in this section by checking the first two lines. It was what they wrote next to the “Help in General” line that surprised us the most. Men offered to do handy work. They would list the skills they had: plumbing, wood working, electrical, etc. The women offered to babysit, take the elderly shopping or to appointments, pet-sit, water flowers and gardens, etc. One woman, a retired school teacher, offered to pick up sick children from school and watch them until their parents could make it home so that the parents wouldn’t be penalized at work! We were stunned by their generosity!
We assigned one couple to be in charge of each street, and when we passed out the directory, we let the neighborhood know who to call should a need arise, and that couple would make the necessary calls to make sure their needs were met. Usually neighbors kept tabs on one another, and we’d get a call from one neighbor letting us know what another needed, but once everything was in place, neighbors could leave for vacations or whatever and the animals, mail, gardens an lawns would be taken care of.
When my father died and we had to fly home quickly, we really didn’t have time to make but one call to a neighbor, but while we were away, we called again to check on things and discovered several neighborhoods were all over our house at the time feeding our dog and watering the flowers, etc. I can’t tell you what a blessing it is to go away, whether it’s a planned trip or not and know everything will be taken care of while you’re away.
I think the most remarkable time was one year on Christmas Eve. We had had an ice storm during the night and in our area, we usually have to wait until the snow and ice melt before we can get out on the roads. It was just six in the morning and our phone rang. It was one of our neighbors down the street who had a police scanner and had put it on when they noticed an ambulance in another neighbor’s driveway. She called to say that the wife had died sometime during the night of an apparent heart-attack.
Soon after the ambulance left, John and I went down and knocked on the door to talk and pray with the husband and see what else we could do. We discovered that they had planned to fly to their son’s home that morning to spend Christmas with them, and he was now trying to make arrangements for everyone to come in for the funeral. He also shared that they didn’t have any food in the house because they had planned to be gone for a few weeks.
I came home and sent out an email to the whole neighborhood telling everyone what had happened and listed the needs. I also added that I happened to have an extra turkey in the freezer that I would roast and asked if others could help with making them a Christmas dinner since roads were pretty much impassible and stores would be closed. We not only were able to give them a complete Christmas dinner with desserts, but we were also able to provide dinners for the whole family for the next four days until after the funeral.
This neighborhood has always gone above and beyond what one would expect, and I believe what has been demonstrated here can happen anywhere! Tomorrow, I’d like to share more on the activities our neighborhood has taken part in to build our community and 10 simple steps you can take to begin to build a caring community right where you live.
‘Til then, sue