Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why I Serve At The River

There are times when the days are long, the weeks take forever, and the weekends seem to pass by in the blink of an eye. To be honest, this was one of those times. It is summer and there are so many women and children visiting The River, I have not had a vacation since I don't remember when, and it is less than a month until I go to visit my family in Minnesota. There are many women in crisis and need and I was tired from a long week. Did I mention it was Friday?! Around 1:15 p.m. in walked River regular Anna and she had a baby with her. Anna explained that the baby girl belonged to a young, stressed-out mom who had a five year old, 3 year old and this baby. I asked Anna what the baby's name was, but she could not remember. Anna had decided to give the mom a break for the afternoon and watch the baby. They would meet up back at the Salvation Army at dinner time. Anna, who is homeless, asked to take a shower and as I was giving her the towels and toiletries pack, I told her I would watch "Baby Girl."
Baby Girl was beautiful! She had the biggest dark eyes, huge cheeks, and hardly any hair. I would guess she was around 10 months old. She was asleep and I immediately noticed how dirty she was. Not only her clothes, but her little person too. The stroller she was lying in was filthy and she had obviously been eating the food out of the little section in the front of the stroller where 3 pieces of dirty snack sat. My volunteer Mischele said, "She really needs a bath." That was exactly what I was going to do!
My daughter is about to turn 15 and it had been a long time since I had given a baby a bath. I gathered up towels, baby shampoo and baby cleaner, and cleaned out the kitchen sink. I let the water run to get the right temperature and prepared to take off Baby Girl's dirty shirt and pants. The second I put her in the water, she started to make buzzing noises and splash. She loved it. I washed her hair first and then spent time cleaning off the sweaty grime that had collected all over her little body. After a few minutes, it was time to wrap her up in towels and dry her off.
Anna had mentioned that her mom was down to 4 more diapers, and we had just received diapers as part of a commodity grant. I gathered up diapers, wipes, baby food, lotions, powder, shampoo and soap for the mom. Anna had noticed how dirty her shirt was and had stopped at a thrift store along the way and purchased a cute, pink, polka-dotted dress. I rubbed lotion on her- yes, she had that good baby smell- and we put on her new dress and a clean diaper. She was so happy and enjoyed all of the attention she was getting from the ladies at The River. Baby Girl especially liked to be sung too, and for the next hour we entertained her with every song we could remember.
While I was giving her a bath and dressing Baby Girl, Mischele spent time cleaning up the stroller. It needed a real good scrubbing, and the fabric parts really could have stood to be taken apart and washed in the machine- but we did not have the time. We placed a clean white towel on the seat so she could be put back into the stroller on something clean. It was a huge improvement.
In the small amount of time I spent with Baby Girl, I was reminded of why I treasure being at The River. Every now and then it really feels as if I am doing God's work, and using my time and talents to serve the Lord. I am ashamed to say that I sometimes selfishly need these special moments as a reminder. It was a blessing from God to spend a little time loving Baby Girl, and I am thankful. God is so good. Thank you Lord.

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