The youth group served a meal tonight for families at the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter here in Cedar Rapids. We prepared a spaghetti dinner together at church before departing for the shelter. I had not been to this shelter before. I have served meals to homeless or needy families in the past but never here in Cedar Rapids.
I really wasn't sure what to expect from this visit. I knew we would eat a family style dinner with the people living there but I wasn't sure who I would meet and what I would face when I walked through those doors. I was somewhat anxious. Not because I was afraid. I was anxious because I wasn't sure who I would be called to serve.
The shelter's website has the following quote by one of my favorite authors.
"Sometimes you don't know when you are taking the first step through a door until you are already inside." -- Ann VoskampThis is a truth. We did serve many wonderful people tonight when we walked through those doors. Little did I know though that I would meet someone very special. Someone who would change me.
As we welcomed families in to grab a plate of dinner I met a mom and her little boy. The little boy's name was Tim*. He looked like he was about the age of my son Thomas. I asked him how old he was and found out he was 8, almost 9 he proudly told me, in third grade. His family recently moved to Cedar Rapids. We ate our spaghetti dinner and I told him he had to have brownie from the middle because they are the best ones. As we sat there we talked about school and making new friends in new places. He was a bright young boy, really smart and excited to tell me all about himself.
We talked about super heroes. He told me Spider Man is his favorite. Which of course I had to tell him that Captain America and Thor are my boys favorite super heroes. Marvel Comics have the best heroes. He told me he thought Captain America was the best super hero because he believes in doing the right thing and not just fighting bad guys.
I then found out he wants to be in the army when he grows up. Although he admitted last week he wanted to be a bounty hunter and before that he wanted to be a police officer. I asked him if he believed in protecting people and helping people. He agreed it was very important and I told him that I thought he would be good for a big job like that. I told him I know a police officer and a marine and maybe he will grow up to do big things some day just like these men.
We talked about his rainbow loom band bracelets he was wearing. I found out he was given both of them by friends. I couldn't help but think of my own kids and how they like exchanging bracelets with friends too. I swallowed hard. I knew our family was taking these simple joys like loom bracelets for granted. We don't appreciate all the "stuff" we have and I know it.
Before I knew it was time for Tim to leave. His mom thanked me many times and I know she was very appreciative for sitting with them and just talking to her son.
I am really honored to have met Tim today. He taught me that even the smallest person can be brave. He was in a new place and in a new school but he still had a smile on his face. I know he misses his old home and school. I know it had to be hard. I could see it on his face. Yet, he still had hope. For that I think he is the bravest person I have ever met. I was blessed to meet him. I think maybe he served me more than I served him.
I saw into someone else today. I walked through those doors and everything changed. I met someone very small but very important. I met a little boy named Tim. A little boy who just changed my world.
Tim, I see you.
*I have changed the name to protect this child's identity.