Today I am writing a Family Promise year-end recap for our church’s annual meeting, and I am missing my sister. Losing her this year was heartbreaking, and the absence of her name from the list of my sub-coordinators is a stark reminder that she is no longer here, lending light to our family, our church, or our Family Promise “family”…
But there are smiles, too, if I think back far enough.
I have Family Promise to thank for bringing a dimension to my relationship with Kim that it never had before. She was older than me, so all of our lives revolved around that dynamic. Family Promise turned that on its head a bit. For once, as St. Margaret’s primary coordinator, I was “the boss” (I am laughing as I write this because I can hear her protesting that thought). Well, okay- maybe not the boss- but it did level the playing field a little. For the first time in our lives, we were equals. We worked side by side, and long hours, laboring for a common cause. Even better, we were laboring for a cause that was bigger than ourselves. We talked on the phone, planning for the next host week. We discussed menus and supplies, lunches and snacks, volunteers and food allergies. We talked about ways to make the experience better for our guests and better for our volunteers- and in the process, we made the experience better for our family. The more we collaborated, the closer we became. The closer we became to each other and to the guests, the closer we became to God and his will in our lives. We even got our 80 year old mother involved in the program, washing and folding linens and cooking meals for our host weeks. It was a true family affair. I once heard someone refer to us as “the Family Promise sisters.” Kim and I had very little in common when it came to our everyday lives, but everything in common when it came to serving this program and the guests we were honored to host. It changed our relationship and our lives, and we grew together in a new direction as a result. Once Kim became ill and was no longer able to participate in the program, we were able to use our newfound dynamic to remain close in a way that wouldn’t have been natural or even possible before working side by side to further God’s kingdom. That was a blessing for which I will forever be grateful.
We were also able to tell, over and over, the story of the time Kim called me in a panic from the church with the words, “Oh Karin, we can’t serve this!” Those of you that know me know that I’ll eat anything. I’ve even been on mission trips and eaten things like mice, guinea pigs, and iguana. I was pretty sure Kim was exaggerating, since she was a little prone to drama (oh she’d smack me right now if she could!). I headed in, took one peek at the donated meatloaf that looked and smelled suspiciously like dog food, let out a little shriek, and headed straight to Hyvee to spend $40 on a new meatloaf (10 minutes before dinnertime) so that when the guests said “the meatloaf was great”, our wonderful donor would have no idea that it wasn’t theirs they had eaten. Trust me- that was the humane thing to do for everyone. Oh, how that story made us laugh…
Thank you, Family Promise-and thank you, Kim- for the memories and for making my life all the more meaningful.