Children and their families are participating in Family Mission Connections on Wednesday nights once a month.  This past spring, we spent time learning about Oak Grove Elementary, our Micah partner school.  We made bookmarks for some of the students as well as thank you gifts for the teachers.  Families in the church and the preschool collected books for the school.  Your gifts of money, books, and canned goods on Christmas Eve, Souper Bowl, and our mission opportunities helped to create a food pantry at the school and to purchase healthy snacks and provide books for the READ bus in their community.  What a great opportunity to share some of our time and talents with our partner school and learn more about their school and community.

This fall, we have learned about the wonderful ministry at Oregon Hill Baptist Center from Jennifer Turner, its director.  We learned from some of the children’s experiences from our church who helped to serve breakfast to guests. We had the opportunity to get to know some of our guests from CARITAS, providing a meal for them as well as spending time listening to their stories.  We wrote cards to some of our friends at home (the name I prefer over shut-ins), and, last night, we packed care packages for some of our students who are away at college and preparing for exams.

We talked last night about how we can define mission.  Growing up, my understanding of mission only was when I did something for the poor.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Jesus’ mission statement, as I like to call it, says that he came to preach good news to the poor.  Last night, we defined mission as noticing where God is at work in this world and then joining in.  Mission can look like writing cards to folks when they need to know they’re not forgotten.  Mission can look like putting together some goodies and writing some encouraging notes for students as they prepare for exams.

These opportunities to learn and serve are forming our children (and adults) into the way of Jesus.  Last month, I received a note from a church member.  It was addressed to me, but it was very clear that it was for one of our first graders who had written to her.  The note thanked her for her note and included a gift to be placed on this girls’ Christmas tree.  Our third grade Sunday School class now begins every week with writing a note to one of our friends at home.  Meaningful stuff is happening… and this is just the stuff I know about.

We have had wonderful opportunities to gather together to think about some of our friends in Richmond and some of our friends who are a part of our community of faith.  They all need to know that they’re important, that they matter to us and to God, and that they’re not forgotten.

At the end of the evening, I asked each family to grab one of the college care packages and to pray for that person.  Our family grabbed Caroline Zukowsky’s box, who taught one of our daughters in VBS just this past summer.  We prayed that she knows she’s not alone.  We prayed for her preparation.  We prayed with gratitude for her as a child of God.

Last night, my heart was so full of joy and gratitude.  All are welcome to join us, even if you’re not a child or an adult with a young child.  If you do, I feel pretty confident that your heart may swell a little as well (and not in a bad way).