God’s Schedule is the Best Schedule

By Mick Silvers, Partnership Coordinator

This past month we had two amazing Next Step groups come and work alongside the Skid Row community. The first group’s week went as expected. We made it to all of our destinations and they served so amazingly well. The Next Step staff was blown away by their incredible hearts. The second group’s week started off the same way…then…Wednesday happened.

On a Wednesday morning I was woken up by a phone call from one of our Next Step interns stating that due to the bad storms rolling in, Hope Gardens (where we live for Next Step trips), was needing to evacuate the property!

Fact of the day: Because of the wildfires that came through the valley Hope Gardens resides in during December, there isn’t any vegetation to hold the ground together. This makes the potential for mud slides much more common when it rains.

My first thought was- this can’t happen! This is not in the plans! This selfish thought was quickly overtaken by the realization that If Next Step has to evacuate, that means all the women and children of Hope Gardens will also be evacuating and sleeping in the gym at Union Rescue Mission for the third time since Christmas. Thanks to our awesome partners at Union Rescue Mission, Next Step was able to stay at their building for the evacuation as well.

I then went on a mission to see how Next Step could be of the most help in transitioning the 300 women and children who had been evacuated. Some of the leaders from Hope Gardens explained to me the most pressing task was accumulating enough air mattresses for the moms and kids to sleep on during that night over the next 3 hours. The Next Step team was eager to help! Inside I remember thinking –there is no way we can drive around Los Angeles, in the traffic, while it’s raining, and collect 300 air mattress in 3 hours. I told the Hope Gardens leadership we would do our best.

This is not in the plans…this is not in the plans…this is not in the plans! This is what was running through my head as I was explaining to the leaders and students what we were about to do. I was ready for them to respond with- “there is no way we can make this happen in that short amount of time!” Instead they took action. They were determined to be get the job done. To be honest, I had very little confidence we would complete the task.

The group started researching local Walmarts in the area and once they had about 15-20 listed, they began to call them asking them to set air mattresses aside for our pick up. As they got in contact with more and more Walmarts, the number of air mattresses really started to grow. First there were 50…then 100…then 150! Once they reached 150, they sent half the team to start retrieving the air air mattresses. The number kept growing and they kept sending more people out. I was standing in the back of the in amazement. We had 200 air mattresses in under 2 hours!

Then one of the leaders told everyone to stop. She was on the phone with one of the Walmart managers who was checking there stock, but believed they had 100. When he reported back he said they had at least 101! This meant we had 301 air mattresses. The team had done it! And what’s more, they did not just stop there. Once all the air mattresses were back, they proceeded to unpack them and blow them up for the families.

I could not thank the group enough for what they did. Because off the groups willingness to serve, the community I have grown to love so much did not have to wonder if they would have beds for the night. When I tried to express my gratitude to the leaders they reminded me of something I had completely forgotten. They told me the purpose of them being here was to serve. There only job was to say yes, and let God do the rest.

I was so caught up in the schedule for the week. I wanted the group to be able to experience what I had planned- but what I had planned was not what God had planned. I had a very hard time letting go of my plan and letting God use the group for how he intended. Luckily, the group was already in this mindset. They understood they I could have tried everything in my power to keep to my schedule, but at the end of the day God would have his will. Because the group was willing to listen to His will, perfect love and glory was shown to both the Hope Gardens and Union Rescue Mission communities.