People at the Park (1)

Some college friends and I go to a park each Saturday and hang out with any kids who are there. We come and start games of tag, hide and seek or kickball if there’s enough kids. And even if there’s not we make it work. The kids have a ton of fun, we have a ton of fun. We don’t know the kids, or who is going to be at the park each Saturday. But that’s what makes it exciting. (Technically speaking, it’s a ministry I started through the BSM at my school. I was tired of going to the park and seeing kids play on the playground while their  older sibling or parent sat on the bench and texted. Or even just sat in the car and waited for them.)

Anyways, this morning, we pulled up to the park and at the exact same time a white van pulled up next to us. Out comes four preteen boys. God’s funny because, look, I love kids but  preteen boys are definitely my least favorite age group. I sat in my car and had a little inner dialogue with God:

“Them, Marlie.”  God whispered. I instantly shook my head.

“Um. Nope. we play with kids. Those aren’t kids. They’ll just play by themselves and be alright. We’ll find other kids to play with.”

“Marlie. No one else is at the park.”

I looked. No one else was there. I swear I could hear God chuckling. My two friends and I got out of the car and we met up with two other college students. They had left over cupcakes and we were all standing around at the playground. Picture it; five 20-something year olds and four pre-teens all kind of standing around not recognizing each other. My friend walked up to them and offered them cupcakes. Light conversation started about the cost and we assured them it was free. The boys weren’t really standing in the same place but once the words “cupcakes” and “free”  were heard each of them came by and grabbed one. I noticed one was holding a football. Then I spoke up “Hey, guys, I bet we can beat yall in game of football.” 

“Yeah right!” one yelled.

They huddled together and planned our impending demise via two-touch football game.
“They have 3 girls! we’re totally gonna win! yeah! game on let’s do this” they all said. We found an empty space and set up some boundaries. One of the college kids, *Shannon had stayed back to talk to the adult who had driven them here. Once she came back we started playing and about 1/4th of the way through that game Shannon came up to me and whispered:

“These kids are orphans. That guy told me. He works at the ranch that they live at. It’s for kids who don’t have families and are struggling.”

It broke my heart. I’ve been sitting here trying to find another way to say it, but just there is no other way. I got to hang out with some kids who are much much much braver than I am and so very strong. I can’t begin to know what their stories are, but it was such an honor to be apart of their lives even if it was only for an hour on a Saturday morning. They made us laugh with their silly banter.  they gave a few of us nicknames, they got red icing all over their faces from the cupcakes. They out ran us and out jumped us.  They flocked to the male college students,like they were all a band of brothers and asked them questions about college.

They had to leave to go get lunch and when they did the park was empty, on a Saturday afternoon when the weather was perfect. It was obvious, but I said it anyways.

“That’s why we were here. For those guys”  We stood silence for a little bit and decided to head back to campus.

 We walked to the car and I looked at the van before it drove away and saw four hands waving goodbye.

——

This will probably be a series.  I’ll continue writing about my experiences in this ministry and share them and all that God is doing  here.

A Tale of many Tails (Part 1)

This is the story of how I lost one cat and gained three more:

I walked into the office at my school and found my mom holding a kitten.  She told me “Happy Birthday!” and I flipped out. Words cannot describe the joy I felt. It was my birthday and the one thing I had pleaded for was a kitten. We had one cat (Pepper) who didn’t do much but sleep and cough up hairballs.

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Here’s Pepper hydrating himself after all of his sleeping.

Since I couldn’t bring this new kitten to class, I left school with my mom for the day. I named her Maisy and her face melted my heart. She was playful and loving.

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THAT FACE. *Melt*

A few months passed and we took Maisy to the vet to get her fixed. It was then that we were told that Maisy was actually a boy. (I’ll leave this one up to you.) So, HE got fixed and now I was left to rename him. After a lot of thinking, I decided that the name Maisy had already stuck. So, I changed the spelling. Maisy (soo girly) to Mayzie (MANLY). Z’s are manly, right? Ah well. It worked for me. A year passed and Mayzie was growing fast. He also was a jerk. He hated being held or pet. An arrogant but beautiful cat. Nonetheless, I had cat and I was happy.

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His normal face.

Mayzie was an indoor/outdoor cat and one day he just didn’t come home. I had him for 4 years and suddenly he was gone. Mom and I walked around the neighborhood calling for him, we drove to the nearby neighborhood and called for him. We put up “Lost Cat” posters and our hearts jumped every time the phone rang.And our hearts sank every time because no one called to bring the words I so desperately wanted to hear. “Hey, I found your cat.” Pepper was pleased at the sudden absence of another feline but I couldn’t stand the thought of Mayzie being gone. I begged God to bring him back. I wanted him back.

A very long month had passed and still no sign of Mayzie. We decided to give the animal shelter a try. Maybe someone found him and turned him in. Things get pretty interesting here. We didn’t find Mayzie. But we did run into a lady who worked for a local cat rescue organization. She needed volunteers to foster kittens. We told her we needed something to fill the Mayzie shaped hole in our hearts.  It was perfect. We shook hands and  by Monday,we had our first group of kittens.

(Boring details: our job as foster owners, we raise the kittens until they are old enough to be fixed, once fixed we take them each Saturday to the local pet store and they are (hopefully) adopted! We take them each week until all are adopted. then, the cat rescue people find us more kittens to foster. Most shelters will not keep very young cats because they can’t be fixed until a certain age and they won’t waste the space waiting on the kittens to be old enough. This cat rescue organization takes the kittens from the animal shelter or ones found outside and places them in homes like ours)

Okay back to this first batch of kittens.

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Periwinkle, Oliver and Rizzo.

I got to play, love on and hang out with these sweet faces after a long day at school or work. Rizzo was adopted first and so we were left with Periwinkle and Oliver for another week. Fine by me. About half way through the week, a crazy thought occured. What if we adopted Oliver and Periwinkle. I had taken a special liking to Oliver and Oliver really liked Periwinkle so separating them would be totally cruel, right? Right. So, we welcomed Oliver and Periwinkle into our home (much to Pepper’s dismay)

Week of endless bliss passed as kittens came in and out of our homes. As if things couldn’t get any better, my mom got a call that a litter of newborn kittens were found in a bush with their mom. They asked if we’d be willing to foster them. UHHH YES!!!  Five 2-day old kittens and their beautiful mom moved in.  Eyes closed, ears closed, little balls of furr. I got to watch these kittens nurse, open their eyes, learn to walk and run.

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One by one they were adopted until only one kitten was left. All the cats were staying in the office (door closed) but we didn’t want to leave the last kitten in the office alone. So we let him have free roam of the house. Him and Oliver got a long really well and that thought occurred again. “What if we adopted this kitten?” So we did which brought our cat total to 4.  Our time as a foster home ended afterwards and we had saved 5-8 litters of kittens. AWESOME. And though Pepper has died, we still have Oliver, Periwinkle and Phantom.

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