FROM THE CHURCH HOUSE TO THE STATE HOUSE
Some years ago, in fact, it was during April 2004, God had orchestrated an event in my life that motivated me to volunteer as an Ombudsman for the state of Maryland. As I look back on this time, I now realize this was just another god-centered means in preparing me to become an international missionary in His service. For it was while performing in this occupation I learned to communicate with adults with personalities that had limited cognitive skills and attention deficit disorders who had been placed in a semi-institutionalized facility by their family members.
FROM THE STATE HOUSE TO THE OUT HOUSE
These facilities in most cases were private homes or apartment complexes located in regular neighborhoods and licensed by the state. A private dwelling with multi-purpose rooms and numerous bedrooms could operate their facility as a co-ed unit. Home owners received rents from their tenants and in return provided housekeeping duties, catered meals, entertainment and in some instances transportation which was required by state law.
The state assigned an Ombudsman to each of these facilities as a mediator to investigate resident complaints, grievances, provide private consultations, reinforce rights and privileges and recommend appropriate strategies necessary in order to resolve any conflicts between parties. (The institution of the Ombudsman was first created in Sweden more than 200 years ago. Ombudsmen normally perform duties as an intermediary between the constituent and its facility, owner or organization.)
FROM THE OUT HOUSES TO THE LANDLORD’S HOME
The spiritual lessons I learned did not come from the adult residents themselves who lived in the neighborhood home where I was assigned, but from the home owners, their employees who cooked or did housecleaning, the family members who visited the residents and the local entertainers who provided recreation.
FROM THE LANDLORD’S HOME INTO THE TENANT’S HEART
Now that we have gone full circle in our introductions, allow me to introduce you to Jane (not her real name) who resided in the very first home I was assigned to. Jane eventually became one of my favorite tenants whom I got to visit twice monthly. I used the term “eventually” because my very first visit to this home was kind of weird. Practically all of the residence were in the early stages of Alzheimer Disease. Just a few were experiencing limited cognitive skills and/or attention deficit disorders. In addition, the entire household exhibited a hostel atmosphere and were not at all enthusiastic about my being there. (Most landlords see Ombudsmen as spies for the State.)
Needless to say, my first day did not go very well and I began to doubt my ‘honorable’ intentions to volunteer to serve in this capacity. I envisioned I was on a road to encounter demons. But later, while reading my bible, I came upon these verses regarding God’s calling, election and hope for my life:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and unto an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. 1 Peter 1:3-4
“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD”. Psalm 31:24
So, in order to adhere to 1st Corinthians 15:58…“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”…I resolved to be spiritually grounded and not be tossed back and forth by the wind and the waves of life. So, I hastened to plead the Blood of Jesus over that house and its inhabitants every time I entered into it.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, I am glad to report that within a short time Jane and the other residents in the home came to respect and trust me. Soon I established a good relationship with the staff by artistically posting their daily food menus on the kitchen walls with favorable comments from the residents concerning particular dishes they enjoyed eating the most. With God’s wisdom, I endeared myself to the landlords by taking the residents on short walks around the neighborhood, or sitting with them on the patio and imitating and identifying the sounds of nature we heard. These exercises and mind games helped to minimize their attention deficit disorders and broaden their cognitive skills and their ability to communicate with one another and their family members.
When the day’s activities also included entertainers, I encouraged them to involve more hands on events such as physically dancing with a tenant as his or her partner in addition to singing songs to them; couching chefs into allowing the tenants to actually prepare and bake certain food items instead of just listening or watching ‘how to’ demonstrations. I even got one or two residents to allow me to transcribe a portion of their real life’s story or to compose a poem that I later framed and put on display in the residence. My biggest accomplishment was to convince the landlord to allow dinner wine to be served and dinner guest to be invited on special occasions such as birthdays and holidays. After all, everyone was of age (although under supervision), and many of them still had personal relationships with people outside of their immediate family members and also desired their company every once in a while.
You can imagine how twice a month, at least, I was on my knees the night before visiting my assigned Ombudsman duty asking the Lord to empower me with His strength, courage, insight, and peace as I operated in His love to carry out my beloved responsibilities for the State of Maryland.
And without fail, God always had a word for me…My child, you were on my mind when My Only Begotten Son was on the Cross. Your future missionary assignments will always remind you that Greater is He that is within you then he that is within the world.
Scripture Lesson: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you (My sister). I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Click http://www.tgifmasterminds.com every Friday for a new post from the Master’s servant manager…ME!