May 03, 2009

Luke 14 County Fair!

Here we are, ready to go! For those of you who don't know what Luke 14 is, it's an annual event we hold at our church. It's an evening to honor those in our community affected by disability. Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Luke 14:12-14 That's what it's all about. It is one big PARTY, let me tell you! My heart is full all over again just looking at the pictures. Speaking of pictures, there are a LOT on here (and I ony looked through 1/3 of what I have!), but I just couldn't stop. We had about 325 guests of honor this year. :D There's so much to say, so I'm just going to jump right in and let the pictures tell the story...

Here's the army of volunteers getting directions from yours truly before being hooked up as buddies for the evening. We have a lot of unstructured fun first, then we settle down for a program after an hour and a half or so.
Mattie got to enjoy the calf a bit before going home with Grandmama for her first sleepover! (Thank you, Grandmama!)

This is J.T. He's in my Sunday School class. He brightens up the room with that big old smile of his coupled with his cranky-old-man personality!

One of our guests enjoying the petting zoo which was huge this year! We had more than 15 different kinds of animals, I'm pretty sure!

Tyler wanted to "feed" the pig for a long time. He said it made the pig happy!

This big ole smiling face is Gabriel. Gabe's parents go to our church and Gabe comes to VBS. He is the happiest guy you'll ever meet!

Here's Tyler. He came to VBS last year and I hope he comes again!

This young lady got off her group home bus with a cut on her head! Noone was quite sure how it got there, but it didn't stop her from enjoying the party!

Here we are in full swing.

Everybody gettin' down Hokey Pokey style. All the yellow shirts are the Sunshine Ambassadors. They are a group of youngsters who all have Down Syndrome and take dancing and singing lessons at a local studio. Then they take their show on the road!

This guy gave me a laugh. He is a basketball player at a local college and I'm pretty sure he only came because someone made him! But look at him gettin' down to the Hokey Pokey after just a few short minutes! I'm sure the cute blonde caregiver of his buddy helped just a bit...

Ah, my sweet Jordan. Jordan's dad was my principal at my second teaching job, and she is just 2 months younger than Jacob. Now she's in my Sunday School class. I didn't think she was going to be able to make it because she had some family coming in from out of town. But while I was up on the track taking some hokey pokey pictures I looked down and saw the cutest little elbow stickin' out and shakin' all about and saw it was Jordan! That was the highlight of my night. Jordan LOVES for us to read her the Max Lucado book You are Special. And one of our freebies was a copy of two other Max Lucado's books. She recognized the illustrations right away and knew exactly that was a special gift for her!

Sweet victory at the Ring Toss!
  This car belonged to a young man who came last year, but passed away recently. His parent's antique car club brought several cars in Brian's memory.

Each of the guests gets to choose a cowboy hat if they'd like.

Loving some bull-riding!
Is this just not the sweetest picture?

The hayride was one of the new things we did this year, and it was a huge hit! (Especially once they got gas in the tractor!) Robert was a hayride loader.

This is Valerie and her buddy, Jessie. Jessie's in my Sunday School class too! She ALWAYS has a smile on her face and loves to help her other Special Friends when we need it!

Amelia loving on the calf.

 One story I forgot that I'll add here... One lady who came was 87 years old (or 78, not sure). Anyway, she is blind and has been set aside her entire life. She was beside herself to come to Luke 14! While she was at Luke 14, she got to go on her first hayride of her entire life. And had her first cotton candy. Her FIRST cotton candy. Can you imagine such a life in 2009?

Chad had to resort to holding hands... he had two buddies who were runners; But every time I looked they were all smiling!

One short story that just blessed my socks off... On the left is Patrice. She and I have boys the same age and they played soccer together last year. She has recently been asking the Lord to show her where He wants to use her, and she's feeling led toward helping us in the disability ministry. So she comes up to me as I'm pairing guests up with volunteers and says, "Just so you know, Melissa, I'm terrified to do this! I've never done this before." But she came anyway! She put herself out there to serve the Lord even though she was terrified, and she gave glory to God's name in doing so. I'm so proud of her!!

A funny story here about Robert...
Me, at registration time:
"Robert, this is Mr John and he's going to be your buddy tonight! And we're going to grab one of your friends to hang out with you and Mr John too."
Robert: "Aww man! I want a female! And I don't want one of my friends with me."
Me: "Sorry, Buddy! You're stuck with Mr. John."
Robert: "Awww, SHUCKS!"
 Later... Me: "Robert, I'd like to take your picture!"
Robert: "But I got brownie in my teeth... hold on. I gotta rinse my mouth out. There. Now you can take it." :D

Dan has played for us two years in a row now. This time he had a bit of help! But look at the grin on Dan's face. He's having as much fun as the other guy!

And Matthew (yellow name tag) couldn't resist!

Our emcees for the evening... Bradley Bean and Marty Vesser. And a special guest chicken.

Randy Kington, Vietnam Veteran, author and speaker gave the address.

The hardworking clean up crew. It's amazing the what can get done in two hours when you have cheerful helpers!

My partner in crime (read: Sunday School teaching partner, kindred spirit and dear friend), Darlene, and me after 10:30 that night... I'm pretty impressed we were still standing!
The supervisors (not to mention mine and Darlene's husbands). What would we have done without them? (Just bustin' them, btw. They worked hard all day and have sacrificed many hours this spring so Darlene and I could do this thing! MANY other spouses have as well as this is NOT a 2 man show!!! We couldn't do it without all the hundreds of volunteers we had pitching in!)) So does this not just look like the MOST fun you could ever have?! There are sooooo many hours of planning that go into this 3 hour event, but every SECOND is worth it! A guest speaker used this quote of Frederick Buechner's today in his sermon and it perfectly sums up my heart about disability ministry.

  Your greatest calling“is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Disability minstry is that place for me.


carriejoy said...

Oh Melissa! That just brings tears to my eyes - of conviction (hello? what am *I* doing?) and of joy (so thankful for what YOU'RE doing!)

What a great post and truly wonderful pictures!

Valerie said...

Love this post! What a fun time! My heart is blessed this morning!

Barb said...

Now I seriously need Kleenex! Thanks for being such a blessing and blessing us with your pictures, friend! XO

Rebecca said...

This was my first time attending the Luke 14. Charley started helping 2 years ago and Hunter wanted to help last year, but had a baseball game the same night. So last year we showed up just in time to help the clean-up crew.

This year was special because my entire family was able to help. My brother (who is 40) is severly mentally retarded and autistic. He has been in Greene Valley since I was 3, so this event is very special. I can't commit to doing this all the time, but I love the ability to help during this special event!

I really enjoyed taking pictures and having some of these special people say "Can you take MY picture?" To me it was such a blessing because they were EXCITED to have their picture taken. It made them feel so important.

Thanks for such a great time! I would love to be able to help again next year.

Marya said...

I'm crying too! Just beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Doug and I are so blessed this am reading your post about the banquet...I think he's taking it to the staff to get the brainbank going for NJ...definitely being the hands and feet of Christ. I love you. You were created to do this ministry for sure! xo-Jeni

Julie said...

What a fabulous ministry and a beautiful day! Thanks so much for sharing.

Leslie said...


I'm just in tears. I can't tell you how much it blesses me to see how you love each person and see them as a person - not their "disability". I always hope that people will see Eliana for who she is not what she has.

I love your heart. I love your obedience to God's call. This event just looks wonderful!!! Big hugs to you and all that worked to pull this off.

I'm typing and still have tears running down my face.