SENT is part of a new weekly series telling stories of people at Pulpit Rock living missionally in their unique contexts. We believe that all of us have been SENT into our neighborhoods, workplaces and city. Our hope is that you are encouraged and inspired to lean into the places God has called you. And then we’d like to tell your story. Because we know that the story of God’s people is the story of God. If you have a story you would like to share with us send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently you hosted a neighborhood Halloween party, tell us about it! Where did the idea for the Potato Bar start? Are there other neighborhood gatherings throughout the year?
We moved into our home almost 2 years ago. Over this time, we have met a few neighbors but haven’t necessarily felt like a community. People are friendly, but seem to keep to themselves for the most part. We wanted to provide an opportunity to bring people together. Our neighborhood doesn’t really have anything like this happening throughout the year, and it honestly, sounded like fun.
Deeper down, I have felt a deep grief over our world: the political climate we find ourselves in, the ugly way we treat each other (God’s kids!), and childhood cancer…just to name a few. While I certainly can not control our politics or cure cancer, I can love people well. I should love people well…and not just in my words and by posting nice things on Facebook, but in what I actually do. 1 John 3:18 says “Dear friends, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Our potato bar, while not revolutionary, was a step in loving our neighbors. Helping them to feel comfortable where they live and with us. We want to love them well.
What was a favorite memory from this year?
We gave away about 55 potatoes to our neighbors and many of them stayed a bit, enjoying the warmth of our garage, using the bathroom, rehydrating or chit-chatting, allowing us to get to know each other. Throughout the night, we learned that we live with police officers, NPR staff, stay-at-home-dads, Olympians, teachers, parole officers, and many more. There were so many special moments from that evening, but one does stand out. One woman and I stood on our driveway and talked for about 45 minutes. Her husband is deployed and will be for a while, still. She was going to be alone that evening, handing out candy to sugared-up kids, Instead she left her bowl on the front step and came over to join us. I’m so glad she did. I learned so much about her as we talked and we laughed over the antics of my enthusiastic 4-year-old. At the end of our conversation, she invited me over for coffee and I can’t wait to continue to get to know her.
What was something you personally have seen or learned as you have stepped out into loving your neighbors?
I was nervous as we planned and executed this little event. I was afraid people were going to be mean when, in spite of their “No soliciting” sign, I rang their doorbells, assuming I had an agenda. I was also terrified we were going to end up with 75 uneaten potatoes! As we walked our neighborhood and handed out our invitations, not a single person was mean (skeptical, but not mean). And thankfully, most of the potatoes were eaten! Throughout the night, people kept on saying “I’ve been meaning to do something like this…this is such a great idea!” This was reassuring and encouraging. People are longing for connection. They usually want to engage, they just don’t always know how. We were able to create a platform for that…with a potato.
Any advice you would give to others who are looking to neighbor well?
Our little potato party was so much fun. It wasn’t elaborate or fancy, but created space for people to connect. I’m not always good with names, but the Lord gave me super-natural ability to remember people’s names throughout the night! This little miracle reminded me that God will provide what we need as we love our neighbors.
Rachel attends Pulpit Rock with her husband Josh and their son, Anders. She is the Early Childhood Lead on our KidsMin team and Josh volunteers with PRiSM.