I'm here in Houston with the Find Your Way Home prison tour, and as I had been told, it is an amazing experience. Today, we were at St. John's Downtown UMC (Rudy Rasmus' church, for those familiar with him), where Becca Stevens and the women of Magdalene shared about the power of love and community to transform lives broken by abuse and addiction.
For over six hours today (encompassing three two-hour worship services) this morning, I helped sell Thistle Farms products and books. Thistle Farms is the non-profit business through which the women in the Magdalene program gain job skills and earn money making all-natural bath and body products. (Check out their stuff at thistlefarms.org. It's also available at many Whole Foods stores and other retailers.) Patti--pictured at left below--and I felt like such novices compared with Katrina, Tara, and Gwen, the Magdalene graduates with us who are masters at their trade, but we got to where we could talk about the products and ring up a sale with ease as well!
I did get to trade off occasionally and go up to join in worship. Man, oh man--I was in heaven. I got to clap and sway and sing at the top of my lungs without sticking out like a sore thumb.
Becca delivered her message at each service, and then her husband Marcus sang "Bless the Broken Road." They were both amazing.
I'm not really the sort of person who gets "starstruck" (at least not for actors, singers, and the like--moreso for big authors or well-known pastors) but I've got to say it's pretty cool hanging out with Grammy Award winning songwriters and artists. Marcus, as I mentioned yesterday, wrote "Bless the Broken Road," special to Matt and I as it was our wedding first dance song. Also on the tour are Don Schlitz (who wrote the Kenny Rogers hit "The Gambler"--and, just now checking out his website, I see he also wrote "When You Say Nothing at All" and "Forever and Ever, Amen") and country star Julie Roberts ("Break Down Here"). When I moved to Nashville seven years ago, I wondered if I would spot any stars--then I realized I wouldn't recognize any if I did! This tour, plus having a country music video filmed at our church before it burned, give me my full Music City credentials now, I think :0)
Anyone who knows me understands that meeting and hanging out with ten new people I don't (or barely) know is a recipe for major anxiety, but this group of people has been so welcoming to me as the newbie to the tour and we're having a lot of fun. Last night, we all went to an Astros game, and aside from the terrifying navigation of the streets here (holy cats--what is up with all the access roads, one-ways, and U-turns here?) everything is going smoothly.
Tomorrow, we go into the prison, to bring words and songs of hope to incarcerated women in recovery. It will be an eye-opening experience, I am sure. Already having spent some time with the Magdalene women on the trip, I know there are walks of life and sides of the street I cannot begin to imagine. Tomorrow will likely paint an even starker picture of this world I've never seen.