An Unexpected Joy


My little lady

Swinging in Green

Showing off his treasure

I love unexpected joys.  I love when I go to a restaurant and find out that kids eat free that night.  I love going to a party where I think I won’t know anyone and end up talking all night to someone I haven’t seen in years.  I love going to weddings and finding out it is an open bar.  I love when Brian comes home from work a bit late because he stopped by the flower shop.  Well, today I was blessed again by an unexpected joy and though I first explained it as random, I know it is anything but.


Today my family and I loaded up the car with the donations that we received from our “We’re So Lucky” party.  We had loads of clothes, some food, and quite a few toys, and headed to the Motor Inn.  We went there without a plan, and were just hoping that whoever was working the front desk would be as nice as the woman I spoke with last week.  It turns out Mr. Frontdesk wasn’t friendly, but he told us that there is a woman whose office is in the conference room and she is the one who could probably help us.  The conference room, wasn’t at all what you might expect, and the lady behind the desk was busy with another woman so we waited…and waited…and waited.  We actually waited an hour and never spoke with her.  At one point I had to ask Mr. Frontdesk if there was a potty Piper could use.  He said no, and I figured the tree in the parking area would have to suit then.  In the mean time we met some of the residents of the Motor Inn.  Brian chatted it up with a man who has a son in the Air Force and a granddaughter Piper’s age.  I spoke with a woman who moved into the Motor Inn on Christmas Eve with her 3 young sons.  And Piper played on the playground with 2 little girls.  Everything about the Motor Inn intrigued me as I thought that I had no expectations.  The signs on the “conference room” had posters of United Way, the address and hours to the nearest soup kitchen, and a tutoring advertisement.  It seemed like a perfect location for this organization (United Way I was assuming), to set up an office.  There was a playground, obviously catering to the long term residents with children, and every bit of grass area had fences around it.  As we were waiting, this lady, dressed like a nurse, walked into the conference room, grabbed a bag and left.  She seemed really bubbly, and I couldn’t figure out what her deal was.  Why was she dressed like a nurse, but was act like she worked here, knocking on doors and going into rooms?  So, when I saw her again I asked her.  I asked her if she worked at the Motor Inn, because I was anxious to talk with someone and unload our car. She said that she works for the Illumination Foundation, which I had never heard of, but will try and briefly explain what it is.  The Illumination Foundation tries to provide services to break or prevent the cycle of homelessness.  There are a few different aspects of IF and one is that they provide a place to live for people who are being discharged from the hospital but don’t have a home to return to.  Susanna, the cheery nurse, is a full-time RN checking on these patients.  And then, hanging from her lanyard was an I.D. that said Biola University.  Small World!  It is so weird that I even saw her lanyard, because it has turned to the backside, which is where her Biola card was.  And what is even more strange, is that she still had her Biola I.D. even though she doesn’t attend there anymore.  I told her that I had some donations and she thought that was great.  We talked a bit and she asked me how I heard about Illumination Foundation, and I told her I hadn’t.  I had looked into another nonprofit called MIKA thinking that it would be best if we went through an organization for our donations.  I just tend to think that it is better to join forces, especially if there is a group out there that already knows the ropes.  MIKA, wished me “luck” for my “We’re so Lucky” bash, but wasn’t able to help.  So we went to the Motor Inn on our own, without an organization, and as I said without a plan.  Susanna, took our donations, introduced us to Roslyn, the lady behind the desk, and gave me a brochure on Illumination Foundation.  I am excited!  I am excited to have seen the faces of some of the folks that will benefit from our donations.  I am excited that these children have a support system and that their parents have a plan of action.  I am excited of the possibilities of where this can go.  IF has a monthly BBQ where you can volunteer and meet the families, as well as volunteer opportunities for weekly tutoring.  My friend had suggested doing an Easter egg hunt or some other activities down the road after I had checked the place out and I can see this organization being open to ideas and willing to allow us to get involved in a variety of ways.  I am excited for the unexpected joy that came out of meeting Susanna, hearing about Illumination Foundation, and for the future possibilities of serving these families.

Piper has been so cute through all of this.  She has so many ideas of how to help.  She told me that we could go to the mall and go to Pottery Barn and buy toys for the kids that don’t have any.  That’s a very nice idea, but I was thinking Big Lots was more up my alley.  She commented that we have a lot of dishes so that we should probably give them to the people that don’t have any food or dishes.  And then this week she was busy making 2 books for the people at the motel who might not have any books.  I got to write the words.  On the opening page I was prompted by her to write, “I love you, you are my best friend.  I hope you love this book, it is from your best friend Piper.  If you don’t have a church we could tell you where Rock Harbor is.  We might give you a map.  We might.  I like this book and I hope you like it too.  Love, The Ristows”.  One page was her “very best scribbles”.  And another was the a picture of the world, on her globe she had a dot for New Orleans, a dot for Africa, and then a giant circle for Disneyland.  The perspective of a 4 year old, funny.


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