elisabethdanielsons

Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.

Thank You’s

Wow! Where have the past 2 years gone??? It seems like just yesterday that I just moved to Dallas and was scared out of my wits with the change that I had accepted in my life.  I was scared and nervous but also eager to be engaged in mission. I have learned so much over the past 2 years about myself, Dallas, what it means to be in mission, and God. I can not say how thankful I am to all of the people that I have in my life: people who  supported me from afar but also the people I have met along the way! I would like to take some time to give some shout outs to the people who have helped make these past 2 years a meaningful experience.

To all my fellow US-2’s, Mission Interns, and the Global Ministry Staff: THANK YOU for being you! You challenged me to think differently about mission and social justice issues. I am much more aware of the food I eat and also the random people that I meet on the street because of you. Thanks you for being with me along this journey.

To my fellow staff at Project Transformation: THANK YOU for welcoming me into this holy Eco-system with open arms. You have helped me become more confident in my abilities and have trusted my voice and opinions on our reading program and curriculum. You gave me opportunities to become a leader and helped me find authentic ways to connect to the communities here in Dallas. It is because of your influence and support that I am continuing in my call to ministry by attending seminary in the fall. I have never worked in such a loving environment. It was an honor and privilege to be part of this community for these past 2 years.

To my friends and church communities at Kessler Park UMC and First UMC Richardson (Access): THANK YOU for welcoming with open arms. It has been a joy to be a part of two thriving worship communities. Your music and messages nourished me and allowed me renewal each week. Thank you for the small groups and Sunday school classes that were offered. Because of these opportunities, I was able to meet and make friends that I know will be with me for the rest of my life!

To my home church communities in Hannibal: THANK YOU for praying for me and journeying with me in mission these past 2 years. Thanks for the abundance of notes  and cards reminding me that you are supporting me from afar. Thank you for your generous financial gifts which will allow more young adults like me the opportunity to be part of this life changing program. Thank you for your mentoring through the years. It is because of you that I discovered God in my life and have answered the call to be part of God’s mission. Thank you for modeling God’s abundant love.

To my family: THANK YOU for being supportive! Thank you for being a listening ear or a word of encouragement when things were difficult. Thank you for making family time a time of renewal and revival. I have learned to appreciate the time we have together much more because of the distance these past 2 years. I have also been reminded of the unconditional love you have provided me my entire life and am so grateful that I can call you family!

To everyone else: THANK YOU for following my journey, for your prayers and thoughts, and for your calls, emails, and cards. These past 2 years, I have been reminded to look for the good in the world, and I can see it everywhere.

 

I have a little over a month left here in Dallas. I am having a hard time saying good-bye to everything here but I am also in the process of celebrating all that I have learned. I am so thankful for the time that I spent here in Dallas because I have learned so much. This program and the people I have met along the way will be part of me forever.

Thank you!

Elisabeth

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Least of These…

Something very interesting happened to me yesterday. I’m not sure how I feel about the events, but I figured I would share it with you anyway.

Now let me preface this story with a little about my background. I grew up in Hannibal, Missouri which is a pretty small town. It was pretty safe, and I lived a pretty sheltered childhood. I would would walk to the grocery store and play at the neighbors’ houses. Pretty much the only rule in the summer was to be home before the street lights went on. There were people who were homeless in Hannibal but I had very little contact with them. I was taught that it was their fault that they were homeless. In fact, the impression was that they were lazy or stupid. That something was wrong with them, and that they would take advantage of you and use money you give them to buy drugs or alcohol. Now I’m not saying this is correct but these are the things that I was taught. I avoided people who were dirty and sometimes even gave them a dirty look.

Last summer, in our training a wonderful woman of God named Lorenza came and talked to us. She is from Texas and is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. She has been called to a ministry of “doing nothing,” as she calls it. She has sacrificed her health benefits and safe comfortable home that is afforded most ordained elders to become homeless and live among those who are considered the least of these. At first, I was confused by her and her perspective on why she would do this. Who would do this  and why? As we listened to her story, I was moved beyond my original perspective on people who are homeless to one of compassion. Not all people are the same, and I shouldn’t assume that all people who are homeless are lazy or will take advantage of you. There are some that for one reason or another cannot afford housing. I began to think about this more and more.

Now, of course, I live in a big city, and it isn’t uncommon for me to see people standing on the corner asking for money or sleeping on park benches. Most of the time, I don’t do anything and then after I drive away in my safe, comfortable car I start to ask myself is there something I should or could have done to help the people who I see on the corner. I don’t typically carry cash so I generally don’t have anything to get, but maybe I could keep some crackers or something small in my car to hand out.

Now last week, on my way to a Family Fun Night I saw a man under an overpass from the highway as I was stopped at a stoplight, and I did have a couple of dollars so I gave that away. I didn’t really need it. I make more than enough money to pay for gas and groceries. He thanked me with a big grin on his face and said “God bless you lady. I have enough to go get a sandwich at that shop over there now.” The light turned green and I went on my way, but I could tell that the man was grateful for what I had done. And honestly, it wasn’t much!

So I’ve been thinking about this for the past week or so and then yesterday as I was leaving work I saw a man and a woman walking through the parking lot. I could tell by what they were wearing that they were living on the street. I waved and then immediately they asked for help. The man immediately said that they were hungry and that his wife had been attacked by a dog and was hurt. He said they needed a place to stay and some food. Well I didn’t have any cash on me and didn’t feel safe inviting them to stay with me nor is it allowed under my apartment lease. I don’t know why I did this but I told them I’d walk over to the Subway and buy them a sandwich. I explained that I didn’t have a lot of money but I could spare $5 to buy a footlong and that would help feed both of them.

So as we walked the 3 or 4 blocks over to the Subway, we talked a little bit. I explained that I worked at the church as a missionary. The man smiled and said thanks for your service and shook my hand immediately. Then he began in on the signs of the beast and a whole lot of things about the signs that the end times were coming. He talked about the government implanting chips in people who were going to get the national heath care. Now I don’t know a lot about the Book of Revelations. In the churches that I have attended that is not a topic that is typically addressed. It actually is avoided most of the time as something confusing and somewhat irrelevant to our daily lives as Christians. In fact, I don’t even remember talking about that book during my New Testament class in college. So I pretty much just listened to what they had to say as we walked.

When we got to the Subway the woman and I walked in and the man stayed outside presumably to continue trying to get more help. At this point, I began to feel a little more like I was being played by this couple trying to get at my soft side. She knew the people who worked there by name, and they knew her order by heart. It made me feel a little less comfortable with the whole situation, but  I went through with buying them a sandwich and then left and went on my way.

I honestly still don’t know how I feel about that situation. I kind of feel used. It didn’t give me the warm happy feeling that giving that man from under the overpass money did. I keep thinking about them and the things that they said. I feel like they knew the whole area really well and are working the system. But then I think about scripture and what Jesus would have done. He probably would have sat and shared the meal with them. I guess it doesn’t really matter what their intent was but that I tried to help some people that I saw were in need.

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