2008 Photos & Stories

We did it! The Luke 14 dinner was quite a success. Our plan went a little haywire about 10 minutes before it started, but not one guest noticed. (Thankfully, they didn’t know our plan!) And I think we recovered about 45 minutes into it all…We had about 300 guests and 150 volunteers Friday night. We had dinner, dancing (don’t tell… we’re a Baptist church!) and tons of other fun! Every guest I spoke with had a great time. Many, many guests left with obviously lighter hearts than when they arrived. Many volunteers left with lighter hearts than they arrived too! (More than half the volunteers, I’d say, were scared out of their wits to be paired 1:1 with a person with disabilities. But they all did great!!)Our speakers were a couple who work at Joni & Friends in Charlotte, NC.  The woman was in her first marriage when she received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Soon after, her husband brought her a book he wanted her to read, The Open Marriage. He said she needed to find someone to fulfill her needs so he wouldn’t  feel so guilty. Her present husband loved her knowing her health would deteriorate. Wow! We got to go to lunch with them and our friends today and got to know them better. They have a great story and are great people!
This is the calm before the storm. (I think I take this pic every year.)   Each guest got a decorated hat and a hug as they arrived.
This guy on the left was telling me one legged waitress jokes before he ever went inside! He had sooooooo much fun!  ~  We took pictures of each guest, had them developed and handed them out to each guest before they went home. This gentleman on the right was so excited to get his picture! He said, “Is that me??”

This handsome little guy is in my Sunday School class. He loves, loves, loves my husband! He is a twin and his twin has no disability at all. A month or so ago, his mom was getting him out of the bath and he said in his very slow, extremely slurred speech, “Mom, when J was born, everything came out okay. When I was born, there were some problems. Why can’t I walk?”

Ugh. Doesn’t that make you feel like you just got punched in the gut? Me too.

And then today in Sunday School he prayed, “Thank you Jesus that you love me so much.”

This handsome little guy we get to see often as well. And he obviously enjoyed that chocolate chip cookie he just finished!

This is our pastor.

The man in the striped shirt in the next picture is Vlad. Read this story first: He moved here from Russia. He was an incredibly intelligent scientist there when he was sought out for a local high profile laboratory. When he arrived here, we made him take all of our vaccines, though he was completely healthy. He was ruined immediately. Now he lives in a group home and has to have others care for him. He wanders aimlessly and behaves as if he’s mentally retarded at this point, though I don’t know for certain. We have a young lady coming to our bible study who is from the Ukraine. When we knew Vlad was coming to the dinner, we asked Svitlana to come and hopefully meet him. We found him and I said, “You are Vlad, right?” I got a blank stare. Svitlana spoke one sentence in Russian and his eyes lit up! He’s smiling here telling his family something like, “Did you hear that???”

Svitlana was really encouraged to be able to be the hands and feet of Jesus for this man.

And this crazy kiddo is in my Sunday School class as well. He danced forever!! Today we had another Sunday School class with us, and as soon as we sat down for our story, he said, “Welcome to our class, new friends!!”

This young lady was our guest too! She is considered the poster child for the partial birth abortion ban. Her mother was encouraged to abort her at 7 months gestation when some test results came back significantly abnormal. You’ve got to read her story!

And here is the gym full of life!My husband and I were talking this afternoon about being out of our comfort zone. Even with all my experience, I’m often out of my comfort zone with people with disabilities! I just decide to fake it well when I need to, I think! He said it’s kind of like the good Samaritan. Lots of times we pass hurting people by because we feel awkward, don’t know what to say, don’t want our kids to stare, don’t know if they understand us, “just don’t feel called,” are way too busy, etc. But you know, how in the world can’t we all be called to love people God created… in His image… with a hurting heart just like us?