July 24, 2011

Reaching out

Somehow, in looking for neighborhood resources (vet/hairdresser/pediatrician, etc), I stumbled across Mercy Street. It's a ministry founded by a downwardly mobile couple from one of Dallas' wealthiest, whitest areas. They moved into one of Dallas poorest communities and are running a mentoring and sports ministry. They link volunteer mentors with 4th grade kids and ask for a commitment from the mentor until the kid graduates from high school.

In the midst of all of that, the wife is raising their four biological kids as well as two brothers from the neighborhood. Her blog is here. Maybe it's the late hour, but when I read about her and her family, I had to respond.

I just emailed this to her:

I hope this email doesn't seem bizarre, but I just stumbled across Mercy Street and your blog and had to reach out.

I'm the grown up version of your kids. My parents raised us in inner-city Cincinnati where my Dad ran a non-profit housing ministry. My Dad had a Harvard Law degree, my Mom had a Masters in Theology. White, charismatic Lutherans committed to neighborhood transformation and trusting that God was big enough to protect their three kids as they raised them in the 'hood. When I was two weeks old, Mom was bringing me to the women's prison when she went there to lead Bible studies. We went to public schools (Cincinnati has amazing alternative/magnet public schools), played in the neighborhood steel drum band, mentored neighborhood kids, invited illegal immigrants to dinner and loved the city.

Long story short: I'm now married to a Korean-American and we just moved here from the Bay Area in California. We fell in love with the funkiness of Oak Cliff as well as the economic and racial mix. We bought a house near Bishop Arts and are settling in. My husband will be starting a job at UT Southwestern doing lung cancer research and treatment. I'm working from home as a graphic designer for my company in California. In addition to all those changes, we're expecting our first kid in October.

I'm writing because I'd love a chance to meet you, or at least chat on the phone. Given the neighborhood I grew up in, I'm bi-cultural in terms of black/white culture, but I don't know Hispanic culture at all! You'd think I'd have no apprehensions about raising our kid in a non-Anglo environment, but I'm realizing I don't know how to raise a mixed-race kid in a mixed-race neighborhood. I don't know how far West Dallas is from Oak Cliff, but we're looking for a church and trying to connect to people who really live out their faith. I thought you'd be an amazing resource for connecting with what God's doing south of the Trinity river.

Like I said, I hope this email doesn't seem too weird, but I was excited to hear that there are still Christians choosing to be downwardly mobile and doing the kinds of adventures my parents' did in the '70's.

Guessing from your blog, you're likely a very busy woman. Until October, my schedule is fairly flexible. If you're up for chatting, I'd love to do that at some point.
Does it make me sound like a freak? My job has been super busy for the last couple weeks, so I haven't had much of a chance to do the networking I need to do. I've got a couple friends of friends I need to call and neighbors still to meet. I'm nervous that I got a little over-excited!


Julia said...

Not. At. All.

I find it so fun when a reader lands on my blog and drums up conversation via e-mail. I'm sure she's happy to hear from a kindred spirit.

I hope you two can connect, and when you do, I'm pretty sure it's going to be swell.

Anonymous said...

Not freaky at all.

I'd write back right away and you'd be lucky if I didn't show up on your doorstep trying to be your new BFF.

Seriously, it's a lovely letter and probably brightened her day. I'm off now to check out her blog.

Inkling said...

I don't think you sound like a freak at all. In fact, I bet you totally encouraged her by your story. I'm just now beginning to learn that when moms make decisions outside the norm for the way their family works and what they do for their kids, even though they made those decisions because they were led to do so and carefully contemplated the whole thing, there are still little niggling doubts and worries that come in. So to get to hear a "grown up version of her kids" is probably like a good shot in the arm, to let her know that what she's doing really is a calling and that it really can be a good thing for her family. Does that make sense? Geez. If she needs your readers to tell her how lucky she is to get the chance to connect with you, send her to us okay? =)

That is just so cool that you did that. I love it.

Anonymous said...

if i were that woman, i'd LOVE to get your email. :)

Anonymous said...

Good for you! In moving to a new city, you can follow up exciting leads to discover where they take you. It's the LORD's care.

Your e-mail to the Mercy Street mother was an act of kindness. As Inkling said, wayward, downwardly-mobile parents need a lot of reassurance. Your mother and I certainly did. Again and again we wondered whether we were doing badly, both for you all and for ourselves.

Do you remember what Bishop William Black told me? Probably, but here it is again anyway.

Bill had been the YMCA director for Illinois. His three-children family lived in Hyde Park, near the University of Chicago -- a multi-ethnic neighborhood, with its share of crime, blight and urban problems.

Then, Bill got the call to the Episcopal priesthood and went to seminary. After ordination, he became the campus chaplain at Ohio University. Ever been to Athens, Ohio? Its idyllic. The incarnation of parents' dreams of a place to raise their children.

Bill and his wife had two more children, born and raised in Athens.

So, they had two sets of children -- one urban, one small city.

And Bill asked me, "Which group are the self-starters, with the guts to take risks?"

Idyllic sites are not ideal for raising children. Children also need risks and challenges to grow well.

You can encourage you new friend by telling her that.