You can live missionally anywhere.
I am confronted with this fact as Natalie, friends and I try and figure out what to do now that we are up in this community. It’s the realization that the move can’t be the end. Now that we are up in Albany Park, we actually have to do something – meet people, change habits and go out of our comfort zone. There are two ways that I am clinging to right now that is helping me navigate this idea of living missionally…in this neighborhood.
First is we can’t do this alone. We don’t want to be an island up in Albany Park – “no man is an island” as the poet John Donne wrote. We need community and like-minded souls who want to go on this adventure. We have been blessed with some friends who are already doing this. Please pray God joins us together to encourage each other, give each other ideas, invite one another to meet people, and pray together. We also are looking for ways to serve this community. Right now, it’s the little things like shopping at our local grocery store and going through the same check-out line so we can keep meeting the same check-out girl, or frequenting the same restaurants, on the same day, around the same time, so we can keep talking to the same waitress. We don’t have much more complicated vision than that right now.
Second, part of the adventure is the crazy situations God has planned for you. Case in point: A couple weeks ago, I came home, walked in my backyard and was welcomed by a full on light show, dance party in my neighbor’s backyard. I hadn’t met them yet, and this was the perfect chance. I was tired though and was running in a race the next day, so I had a little conversation with God and knew I needed to do this. Not for my neighbors but more for me – in hindsight. The problem was that no one spoke English and when I went over to the fence that separates my backyard from theirs, the first person I met thought I was complaining about the music. When I tried to communicate that I liked the music and I just wanted to meet the people throwing the party because I was a neighbor, they thought my “two thumbs up” gesture (which was meant to say, “I’m not complaining about your party. I am nice and I want to say hi”) was interpreted as a “turn up the music; this is awesome” gesture. Whoops. Long story short, they invited me around to join them in the backyard. I met their 1-year-old son, the dance party’s honored guest, met some women who spoke English, took pictures of them, ate cake and laughed with them as some people danced and others ate. I left to get some sleep for my race the next day, but as the dance music kept going, I couldn’t help but be thankful for how just an act of showing interest in people’s lives means so much and how sometimes we get the added bonus of it being really awkward and funny.
We don’t have it figured out. We never will. I get discouraged at my busy schedule and lack of really being able to invest – every other day…if I really think about it. But we all have neighbors and the opportunity to get to know them and love them, telling and showing them that the love we demonstrate is because we were first loved by the only One who is perfect, beautiful and wonderfully holy. That is the truth I can hope in.