Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Getting The Gomez Family Going

**I am attempting to keep this as the first post on the page for a few days...there should be other newer posts after this one.**

Christ has no body on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out upon the world, ours are the feet with which He goes about doing good, ours are the hands with which He blesses His people. - St. Teresa of Avila

The other night at church, Lee joined us for our Ash Wednesday service and Amy and I held her hand and ministered to her personally - me muttering a few words and Amy placing ashes upon her head. I do not remember exactly what I said but I hope my prayer reflected thoughts to the effect of:

Holy Father, we are entering a season of grief...of penitence. This is my sister in Christ, Lee Gomez. I can not envision these next 40 days being any more difficult than the days she and her family have endured since Katrina but I do know she will need to walk with You. I pray Your steady hand guide her and the body of Christ be with her and her family as they rebuild their lives over this Lenten season and beyond.

Amy, the Gomez family members, and I have had our share of interpersonal struggles and drama over these past six months, some of which I have documented here. Please do not mistake our situation however - Amy and I feel a real calling from God that has remained constant and clear. We are called to help this family and are still doing so in every way we can. We love every member of the Gomez family and want nothing but for them to stand on their own again with a growing sense of the grace of The Almighty.

This Friday - perhaps sooner - Lee, Ana and John will move out of our home and into a nearby apartment - with no FEMA help - an apartment all their own. It will be an exciting day and a somewhat intimidating day for them. Despite our recent ups and downs, it will also be a sad day for the Mains. I am certain it will feel like the days when each of our kids went off to college and we realized the ties of love and shared values not withstanding, there was a new distance to our existence. Amy and I have only one regret...that we could not do more to prepare them for life on their own.

The Gomez family lost everything in Katrina, including the limited support of the father of the Gomez children...the soon to be ex-husband. So Lee, at the age of 50, is starting over with two still very dependent and naive teenagers who in truth have no clue how overwhelming this must be for their mother.

Over the past six months they have been able to gradually obtain a few things like clothes. We and other church members are giving them some furniture items but they will need others. We are trying to provide them with other assistance as needed, but they know that there will still be many needs unmet.

No matter the help they receive, rebuilding lives anew takes time...precious time. Lee and Ana are both working, both going to school and are reliant on a spotty at best public transportation system which robs them of a lot of time for much of anything else.

Throughout their ordeal Lee and her kids have held onto one thing...their pride. They frown on asking for help and are uncomfortable even applying for government assistance which is designed specifically with people such as them in mind. This was a family that owned their own home - completely paid for - had a vehicle, and all the basic amenities of life until six months ago. Today what they own can fit in the back of a pickup truck with room to spare.

Our church family will be holding a house warming shower for the Gomez clan next weekend and Amy has registered them at Target like a bride and groom because they still lack many of the necessities of life.

The house warming party will be held at our church, but I am boldly asking you to consider attending as well via the Internet - if you are in this area you are certainly welcome to physically attend, we would cherish the opportunity to meet you and share this moment.

Amy has gone through Target and selected numerous items ranging from paper towels to a dining room table and chairs. There are items under five dollars and one or two items costing a couple hundred bucks.

Target doesn't have a house warming shower registry or a registry for people rebuilding their lives from the ground up so Amy used the wedding registry as this seemed the most expedient. The bride is Lee Gomez, the groom is Family Gomez.

You do not have to be limited by the Club Wedd registry, we simply believed this would be an easy way help replace some of the many items the family lost. Feel free to browse around Target and choose whatever you wish...any donation will be deeply appreciated.

I know some of you are not in a financial position to give - we know that feeling all too well - so please do not feel guilty. However if you are able to contribute in a small or large way I am personally asking you to give it prayerful consideration. You need only to follow the link above, or this one here.

Should you want to give in another way, i.e. cash, and get a tax deduction in the process, such gifts are obviously also welcome. Real Live Preacher readers and church members from a congregation in Athens, Texas will be helping the family with their rent for the next year, paying a small portion each month as they get familiarized with their expenses and budget. I do ask that if you choose to give that way you do it through our church. The link for more information on that process is on the sidebar but also right here.

I am also leaving the PayPal link up on the sidebar simply because some folks have told me they want to give the easiest way possible. Should you choose that option, I will put the money toward a gift card ( most likely Target, Wal-Mart, or the grocery store across from their new apartment) for the family unless you direct otherwise.

Many of you have given already to this family, not only financially but with deep and heart-felt prayer. I am so thankful for those gifts and please be aware nothing is needed more by Lee and her kids than an outpouring of continued prayer. This is a new season of life they are entering full of possibilities...and rife with potential pitfalls. If you could be so generous as to include Lee and her children on your prayer list that would be the best gift of all.

Thank all of you for walking with Amy and me during this time. Your prayers, emails and letters of encouragement have carried us in more ways than I could ever express. Amy and I do feel a true sense that this is how God wishes to use us in this time, and are already considering ways to provide shelter to someone else in need in the future.

However we will not be abandoning the Gomez family, they will be living only a few blocks away, we will be in regular contact and I will keep you updated as to their progress in this exciting time. They will be the focus of our constant prayers too.

It has been six months since Katrina hit and many lives are still in disarray as is much of the city of New Orleans. There is still a lot of clutter and debris. And while some people are still playing political blame games and others have let the needs of the storm victims fall off their radar, there are people still in dire need of real assistance.

Today I am reminding you of only one such family. Their name is Gomez.

Should you be new to this blog, a small portion of their story is available for reading here. They have real needs, but they also have strong faith. Amy and I believe that faith will be recognized by the body of Christ.

Bless you for believing with us.


Michael & Amy