After a great lunch meeting, I stepped out of my car by the mailboxes, and A---- yelled a greeting from the playground, which sits right next to the boxes.
I was surprised that he acknowledged me, since he was yelling at me last time we spoke. I had asked S---- about some gang graffiti in our hallway. Despite the fact that I had just asked if they knew anything about it, A---- and S---- got very angry and defensive while their posse watched from the stairwell.
"Yo, Ian, wanna play soccer?"
"Definitely," I responded, excited to be invited back into their circle.
We divided up into teams, and kicked back and forth for a while, trash talking each other and having a great time. When it was over, S asked me if I could drive them to soccer practice on Tuesdays, since there was a team forming at a nearby school. Glad for the opportunity to get more time with them, I quickly agreed.
I drove the car to my mechanic this morning to check out a small problem and get it fixed before driving the guys to soccer, and after a wait of several hours, he gave me some bad news. Transmission problems. I delivered the car to another shop that specializes in transmissions, and they said they needed to hold it over night and check it in the morning. I handed over the keys.
I got a ride home with my sister, Lisa, who teaches a Bible study to some of the kids in our neighborhood. I arrived at our apartment feeling depressed about our finances. We were already about two grand in the hole from taxes, and now we have to deal with transmission repair costs, not to mention that we barely make enough to cover our regular bills.
I was so depressed that I completely forgot about agreeing to take A----, S----, and their friends to soccer practice until they came knocking at our door, dressed up and carrying soccer balls. I had to tell them the bad news. They left to try and find another ride.
Yesterday was one of those days that felt like everything clicked into place. Today felt a bit like it all clicked back out again. Hopefully tomorrow will contain another upswing. It's the pendulum of faith-based neighborhood ministry. We can predict and plan all we want, but circumstances always shift around us.
On days like today, the best we can do is believe that the Father has some perspective that we lack. We ask for his peace, and love and serve as faithfully as we can.