Monday, May 26, 2008

Please won't you be my neighbor?

I'm not sure about you, but Mr. Roger's Neighborhood was one of my FAVORITE shows when I was little. If you watched Mr. Roger's or have even just heard of him, you'll most likely recognize the friendly lyrics below....

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please,
Won't you please,
Please won't you be my neighbor?

The reason those lyrics have been ringing in my ears lately is because I have recently moved into a new neighborhood. It seems that I move quite often, but because of circumstances, environment, or plain laziness I haven't been able to connect with my neighbors much.

When I moved into my new place (a few weeks ago) I was feeling very challenged to be intentionally relational with the people that I live around. Why wouldn't I establish relationships with these people? The more I thought about it, the more I realized how silly it was that I hadn't done this previously.

I began tossing around the idea of how I could do this in an impacting way. Not only was I challenged to meet these people, but also to share the love of Christ with them. Again I started wondering what this would/should look like. Quickly I realized it can mean a variety of things...

Maybe it means just chatting with the person next door, or playing with the kids across the street. Perhaps it means offering to mow the lawn of the elderly couple a few houses down, or organizing a neighborhood gathering.

My roommates and I were talking and we decided we wanted to go around and introduce ourselves....and it only seemed natural to take something with us....we didn't want to go empty handed. We thought of the classic "bring a plate of chocolate chip cookies" but then I realized it's 2008 and people may think it's odd to get a plate of unwrapped cookies. So, I suggested bringing a potted flower to the neighbors when we met them for the first time.

After running around Minneapolis trying to find small pots and flowers, my roommates and I had the pots ready and the flowers planted. We had decided to bring flowers to the 7 houses around us to start the process. As we walked to these houses I began to anticipate who we would met as the doors opened in front of us.

The first house we went to we met John who lives with his wife Karima, and his son Garrick. What a great guy. Initially, I think he was a little unsure of what to think about the potted flowers, but through our conversations we find out he is quite the garden expert...we even walked away from his house with gardening magazines and an invitation to eat the cherries off the tree that shades our yard.

A few houses down we met Pearl and Walter who are elderly and just lovely! Walter was sitting at the table enjoying a dinner of what I would imagine to be pork chops and cooked carrots. Pearl shuffled to the door and we enjoyed a wonderful conversation with her about how long she's lived in the house, other neighbors around, and her love for the area. A couple more houses away we met Elaine and Roosevelt who were friendly yet seemed skeptical at first. The flowers threw everyone off...they weren't sure what to make of it. Were we selling them? After what seemed to be initial skepticism, we were able to connect with Elaine as she was telling us about the church she attends. Coincidentally, we even knew a mutual acquaintance who goes to my church and she knows through a choir they are in together.

I could share more stories about the people that surround us, but I'll keep it to a minimum. It was really great getting to walk around and make those connections and to know that there will be plenty of other connections made as we live as neighbors. My prayer is that, if nothing else, my neighbors will see and experience Jesus through us...that they wouldn't see a few "nice girls" but that they would understand our relationship with God. Many of them commented, "How nice you girls are to do this..." but I pray that they understand it's not us...but God in us...I hope our conversations and interactions would be real, genuine, and intentional.

All I can out Mr. Roger's....I'm pretty sure my neighborhood is the coolest:)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I so appreciate the fact that you girls heard the voice of God and were obedient. I have shared this story with our missional group to encourage us to get out of our comfort zone and do similar things. As a result, we are going to have a reading club this summer in one of the neighborhoods where we meet and invite the children to come, listen to stories read to them, sing silly camp songs and play games. It's gotten me to think about what I can do in our neighborhood as well....everyone is so into themselves. Thanks for the inspiration! Mom