Just One More Time
I’m so grateful to God for CareLink. I’m thankful for the many happy hours I’ve enjoyed inside its four walls. “What’s CareLink” you ask! CareLink is part of our church – an ‘arm’ of the church if you like, that extends itself to caring for our community. Nine years ago, I saw an advertisement in our church newsletter: “Wanted – a volunteer to work at CareLink”. I felt God’s nudge to put my hand up and to say ‘Here I am’.
And so began my Thursday mornings at CareLink. I loved being there then. I love being there now. Through my time volunteering at CareLink, I’ve been privileged to meet many beautiful people and to share part of their journeys. In affluent Australia, one doesn’t always realise that there are lots of needy, hurting people in a community. But oh! There certainly are! God has blessed me by my interactions with those who come to our doors. Yes, my life has been far richer for the experience.
Six days ago we had a lady walk in. I will call her Esther. Esther was a very likable woman whom I took to immediately. She was a bit weather beaten and had a sad look in her eyes. But Esther held herself with courage. With haltering words, she shared something of her very tough situation. As I listened to her, my heart went out to her.
She’d run away from a bad relationship – sadly, a story we have heard far too many times at CareLink. Esther’s new to South Australia and has no family here. She has an 8 year old son to look after. Esther and her son had been homeless for several months. Now, she’d finally found a house to stay in for a few months till more permanent housing could be found.
What endeared Esther to me was her positive attitude. She wasn’t asking for sympathy. But I realised she was fighting tears, especially as I sympathised with her over her plight. But she also laughed ruefully and said with a smile ‘I think all the good things happened in the first part of my life’! Now isn’t that an amazing way of looking at it? Esther has had operations for 4 tumours and will need to start chemotherapy soon. She didn’t have a shred of self pity as she talked about it.
Esther also had an empty house and nothing to furnish her new home with. My co-workers at CareLink, Dorothy and Debbie, like myself wanted to help Esther as much as possible. And so… we did what we could. We gave her a bag of food; frozen bread, some pies and pasties. We gave her a warm purple jacket which she put on at once, over her own. We gave her a clothing voucher which she could use to buy some clothes for her son.
I offered to pray with her and she agreed, readily enough. Dorothy and I sat on either side of her and prayed for this brave woman and her many needs. I offered her a Bible which she accepted gladly. I also felt prompted to give her a copy of my book ‘Enjoying the Journey.’
After Esther left, I spoke to someone I knew could help her even more. David, one of the members of our church immediately jumped in to work out ‘Operation Esther’. We found furniture to offer her - a desk; a dressing table; a bed; a rectangular table with 4 chairs; linen; crockery. I was very excited. I got on the phone as soon as I could to share the glad tidings with her. I dialled her number eagerly. Her phone rang on. But she did not pick up.
An hour later I tried again. No – she didn’t pick up this time either. I felt a bit frustrated. But of course, I kept trying. I called and I called and I called. Perhaps 5 or 6 times. After I went home that evening, I called her again from my home. No – no response at all. Had she given me a wrong number? Was this was an old phone number? What could I do?
Two days later, I wrote a letter to Esther and told her that we had a list of furniture, crockery and cutlery we could offer her. I told her to let me know if she wanted them. I sent her my home number and my mobile number. Surely – she would call? She had sounded desperate for furniture hadn’t she?
On the following Monday, the day she would have got my letter – there was still no call from Esther. On Tuesday – no call. On Wednesday – no call! I was having a cuppa with a friend at our church café that morning when David passed by and asked me if I’d contacted Esther. I had to tell him that I was still waiting on her. After my chat with my friend, I went to CareLink, and tried her number… just ONE MORE TIME!
Was I wasting my time again? Perhaps I was! As I dialled, I prayed under my breath ‘Please Lord, let her answer…answer Esther… answer Esther… please….’…! The phone rang once, twice, three times, four times….. and then –
‘Hello’!’ said Esther.
Hurray! I was so relieved to hear her voice. Esther told me she’d lost her phone and had only found it the day before I called her. And yes, she did want the furniture. My heart was singing as I went home. It was going to be all right. My persistence had paid off. Another friend had suggested to me that perhaps Esther didn’t want to be contacted. And that perhaps I needed to leave her alone?
But I didn’t leave her alone! You see – I felt strongly in my heart that Esther was a genuine person who needed our help. And I gave her the benefit of the doubt.
When things don’t work out, it’s easy to make wild guesses or surmises, isn’t it? Esther probably was too embarrassed to call me – after ALL those messages I’d left for her. I am so pleased that I’d kept calling her. She told me she was very glad I called again. And I’m delighted that at least this little piece of Esther’s story had a happy ending. David kindly delivered the furniture and other items to her a couple of days ago and Esther was very grateful!
Perseverance! A long word with 12 whole letters. Perseverance is a long term thing. To keep on keeping on, often against the odds. Sometimes giving up seems the sensible thing to do. Sometimes it seems to be wiser course of action. Sometimes perseverance is not ‘cool’! Always perseverance is not easy. But is it worth persevering?
You bet! Ask Esther. I’m sure she’s glad I persevered. I am too! And…. don’t forget – it won’t hurt to do whatever it is you need to do……
– just one more time!
May your faith (and mine) be a tenacious kind of faith that will never ever give up!