Leigh Loftus faith story

What is your background of church? Where did you grow up? Did you go to church? What was the experience like for you?

I grew up in Granite City, IL. I attended church off-and-on, very minimally, and mostly with friends until I was about 13. My family was not religious at all, and one Thursday evening my mom picked up my best friend and me up from youth group and told me on the drive to my friend’s house (with that friend still in the car) that my dad wanted a divorce. I didn’t blame God, or church, but at that time, I didn’t really have a strong faith, and didn’t really see the point of attending worship, so I stopped.

Can you identify different stages in the growth of your faith? What are they?

At the age of 21, I was introduced to the world of personal development. Another female businesswoman I’d photographed casually mentioned that she had a life coach. I was beyond intrigued! I dipped my toe in slowly, and as I unfolded more of this “personal development stuff,” my experience of life increased. However, it was VERY expensive, especially for an entrepreneurial photographer, so, due to cost, I’d put it off and forego delving in. Every year or so I’d find myself longing for something more out of life, hoping and praying (without yet visiting church) that something could finally work out, that I could figure out a way, in my little photography business to make enough to live beyond month-to-month, or sometimes week-to-week. I’d built a food-and-beverage photography company, and worked with some of the top brands in the world, but I still hadn’t cracked the code to making a sustainable living, and I was exhausted and frankly, wanted to quit.

Was there a time you strayed away from God or the church? Why? What happened? How did you get back?

This cycle repeated from 2009-2017. In 2017, I discovered a book called The Game of Life and How to Play It, by Florence Shovel Shin. It became my bible. For some reason, when I read it, (which was multiple times a week) something inside me changed. I had hope. I was able to believe in the prayers I put out to the universe, but I still didn’t know how I felt about “God.”

The very first time I attended Mount Calvary, Pastor Dave’s sermon addressed equality for all people: White, black, brown, transgender, gay, etc. and the people in the congregation were of every age. This may sound simple, but the sermon was so powerful and so strong that to me, it showed amazing leadership in standing for love in all situations, and that can be a very difficult message to deliver, especially across generations.

When did you know that Mount Calvary would be
your home?

I’m still fairly new to my faith journey and I definitely came back to God and the church in an interesting way but I can say this, the more I practice having faith and turning over my problems to God and really truly letting them go, I experience outcomes and opportunities that I couldn’t have ever even imagined.

I’m truly grateful to have found Mount Calvary and I’m excited to continue to grow with the community!

More from Malawi!

 MORE FROM HEIDI IN MALAWI…

“Yesterday I visited one of the farms and children’s home. Today I’ll be working in the Widow’s Program and then tagging along with a medical team that is here to do physicals for children in a nearby village. 

Next week I believe it’s been arranged for me to have to a cultural immersion with a local family. Exciting! Can’t wait to share this with you all at Mount Calvary! 

Thank you and blessings from Africa!

Heidi

 

Video from Heidi Busch in Malawi

Heidi’s Visit to Malawi with Children of the Nations

MHMM Board and Friends,

I am so excited to share this story from my day here in Malawi. I hope it fills you with as much hope and happiness as I experienced.

This afternoon I had the opportunity to attend a welcome ceremony for a new team that arrived here to work with Children of the Nations (COTN). The ceremony took place in the town of Mtzlissa where COTN has their feeding program (to which we have contributed meals).  

Close to 200 of the 545 children cared for by COTN in that village attended the ceremony. Some older children sang and danced. We were welcomed with open arms. After the ceremony, as we were greeting the children and heading toward the bus, I happened to look up and see a boy holding a box from MHMM! I think I startled him with my enthusiasm about it because he had no idea why I was so excited about his cardboard box (I think he was afraid I wanted to have it), but a woman who spoke English came up to translate.

When she understood who I was, she told me the following:

Your food is blessing these children.  You see those boys dancing?  They dance because you feed them. You are doing the Lord’s work.”

Wow.  When I came to Malawi, I was not certain that our meals were still being fed here at this location, but check out the pictures below! Recognize that date? Packathon 2018 meals are currently being served in Mtzlissa, Malawi!  

Tomorrow I will visit the village again during the feeding program time and share more about how that works, but for now, I just wanted to give you a glimpse into the lives of those you are impacting with your generous commitment of time and resources. Thank you, thank you! to each of you for all of your continued efforts on behalf of beautiful children like these.

Zikomo kwambiri! Thank you very much!

Blessings from Malawi,

Heidi

 

 

Families Moving Forward at Mount Calvary

Families Moving Forward (FMF) has a lofty goal – to end homelessness, one family at a time. And, one family at a time, they are achieving that goal. They work to provide routines, computer access, childcare, transportation and financial education to assist homeless families in finding work and housing. In addition, they partner with about 80 congregations around the area to provide temporary shelter and hospitality.

Honestly, hosting FMF is a big undertaking for the congregations. The program requires 125-150 volunteers per week, as well as sufficient physical space and accommodations. But the joy for volunteers comes in knowing they are helping FMF to “cure” homelessness in our community and in making those connections that are so important for each and every one of us. Chris Anderson, Director of Community Outreach, says “It’s a great faith/family experience. We have whole families volunteering together. The FMF families quickly become a part of Mount Calvary.”

One of our goals, in hosting FMF at Mount Calvary, is to provide families experiencing homelessness with a safe space that feels like a real home. As Pastor Dave says, “It’s deep, honest caring from a friendship level, more than just a volunteer position.” Rather than doling out the ubiquitous sloppy joes and spaghetti, Mount Calvary volunteers ask the FMF families what kind of meals they’d like during their week here. They include a barbecue night, and a night where the FMF families are invited to do the cooking. During our March hosting week, the FMF group included a family from Puerto Rico that had lost their home to Hurricane Maria. The family helped to prepare a special meal, spoke Spanish with some of our local Spanish-language students, and led prayers for Mount Calvary and all our volunteers.

My favorite thing was seeing the quilts the Mount Calvary quilters sewed to lovingly place on each bed for the families. My grandmas both made quilts, and my mom makes quilts, so the quilts at my house are a special part of “home” to me. Along with the quilts, volunteers slid mints onto each pillow, and provided a personal, handcrafted bag of toys and essentials for each child and adult. They used their creative and caring gifts to remind our visitors that each of them is a loved child of God.

Of course, in caring and being cared for, we too, are reminded of that love. Pastor Dave says that when we come alongside people and share ourselves with them, it creates the sense that we’re all the family of God. And isn’t it delightful to think that maybe tonight, somewhere, in a safe, new home, someone could be praying for us in Spanish?

Kara Paulson
Communications Coordinator

THANK YOU FROM HIS HOUSE

His House wants to thank everyone that has assisted and donated to His House, The RAK and the Laundry Ministry. We have wonderful updates on the difference this is making in the community.

A local single mom had been downsized from her job, has a disabled son, and was very concerned about her already tight budget. We had been sharing food and winter gear from Mount Calvary. In the middle of December she called us to let us know she had a new job and was starting the next day. She asked us for help with the cost of doing her laundry. We delivered the quarters from the collection bottle along with some donated laundry soap. When she came to the door, she cried! Yes, she cried about having the supplies to do laundry to start her new job.

There is a homeless couple nearby living in their car. We regularly deliver food, personal care products and gas until they are ready to enter a shelter. They called us to share that the husband had gotten a job after several months of unemployment. We knew they needed help from the Laundry Ministry! A His House volunteer delivered quarters and laundry soap. They were so excited to make sure the husband had clean clothes for his
new job.

I think sometimes during the holidays we lose track of “the little things.” The Giving Tree campaign often-times focuses on toys and electronics. So, the laundry ministry caught us all off guard. It reminded us of the impact people can make just listening and caring for a neighbor. The families mentioned above aren’t going to the mall shopping. Most don’t have Christmas trees because expectations are so low that even “hope” is an extravagance they cannot afford. These families are thinking about today—how am I going to eat, keep gas in my car, and do laundry?

So again, thank you to everyone who helped and donated to the His House Laundry Ministry, our Giving Tree campaign, the annual Christmas Boutique and our various missions. All are a wonderful success because of you. We will be able to help many local families with basic necessities including utilities, car repairs, rent….and clean clothes. Keep the blessings coming.

many hands give many thanks

Thank you to everyone who helped us pack meals, volunteered behind the scenes, gave donations and supported the 13th annual Many Hands Many Meals Packathon. We packed an impressive 353,376 meals, which are slated for hurricane relief.

A special call out to the Mount Calvary staff and members for your continuing support of our mission to feed the hungry!

We do have one more request. As you determine your end-of-year gifts and donations, please consider donating to Many Hands Many Meals. This year we have fallen short of fundraising goals, and still need more than $20,000 to pay for packathon ingredients. Please donate if you’re able by going to mh-mm.org and selecting “donate” from the menu at the top. If your employer matches donations, we are a 501(c)(3). Donations are also tax deductible. Thanks again for your support!

HIS HOUSE VEHICLE DONATION

At His House, October is the time of year we mention our car donation program. A vehicle can make the difference between not only getting a job, but keeping a job when you live in the suburbs. We have very limited public transportation access and not having reliable transportation is a barrier to success. It’s part of what we call the “3 legged stool.” Without a car you lose your job, your home, and sometimes your family.

As you know, I write about local homelessness many times in this space and today as I write about vehicles I am also writing about housing. As I dive deeper and deeper into this subject, I meet more and more people living in their vehicle. Yes, we work hard to get people to a shelter, into Families Moving Forward, or an affordable apartment, but many times we fail. Right now, I know 3 families with children living in their car, all near this church. His House is working hard to help these families move out of what they know as their home (a car) and to a shelter. We have delivered food, gas cards, grocery cards, toiletries…all to a family living in their car!!

So as you consider your vehicle donation think about the difference you can make in someone’s life and their 3 legged stool.

The His House car donation program maximizes your tax donation because we always use the donation toward our mission. Victory Auto in Chanhassen assists with all repairs to affordably keep a donated vehicle running while creating an awareness of the costs associated with maintaining a working car.

CROSSPATHS BIBLE STUDY

If you work in the business world, you are probably familiar with the term “best practices.” Many businesses use the best-practices format as part of their process-improvement planning. In other words, they look at what’s being done across the company, or even in other companies, to see what practices and procedures work best.

Here at Mount Calvary, best-practices helped to develop our “CrossPaths” Bible study series. CrossPaths uses the best of other Bible study formats to create a more effective and accessible experience for our members. The series combines the learning and study of a teaching and presentation format, with the intimacy and camaraderie of small-group interaction.

Each week, participants get a little reading homework and begin having a personal encounter with the Word so they’ll be ready to come and discuss the assignment with the other members of their small group. Well, you know what happens where two or three are gathered – there is God in the midst of them! And when people meet, and talk, and come to new understandings, wonderful, faith-filled friendships are born. After small group time, everyone gathers together for large group learning at a presentation by Pastor Dave.

When asked to reflect on her CrossPaths participation, member Heidi Westlind shared, “I was worried about adding a weekly evening commitment to our full family calendar and getting the homework done, but what I found was that being imperfect on those fronts was ok, and that the experience was still completely worthwhile. The lectures were interesting, the conversations in small group were meaningful and I really valued the opportunity and space to explore my own understanding, thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of topics.”

This year’s CrossPaths series is in three parts. It begins on Tuesday, September 26, from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., with the first session, four weeks of “The Parables of Jesus.” The series is designed to work for anyone, whether you are a seasoned Bible student, or just a beginner. As Pastor Dave says, “This is not competitive Bible Study. This is hospitable Bible study. No one will walk away without having been engaged in a meaningful way.” Future sessions will be January 16–February 20, “Seeing Gray In a World of Black and White” and April 10-24 on the book of James.

You’re invited to one or all. Come check it out. You may find that CrossPaths is one of YOUR best practices.

Kara Paulson

The Call from His House

It seems like every summer I write about local homeless issues. I looked back on some of my previous Caller articles about families sleeping in their cars at the His House Thrift Store, at churches, and other parking lots in this community. I’ve written about driving the homeless to a shelter only to be turned away because the shelters are full. We have bought tents so families can “live” in the campground indefinitely. And His House created an emergency hotel fund that every year is used beyond the balance.

This article is not about a success story…because I don’t have one. I only have my experience of meeting people so desperate that they are standing at the local grocery store asking for help.
I’m not sure this congregation knows that the His House team has taken this difficult challenge on: to address the needs of a person that feels there is no other solution but to hold a sign at the corner. We receive phone calls, texts, and emails from community members letting us know at what intersection they see someone with a sign asking for help.

This work is the most difficult, heart wrenching, and wonderful work we are called to do. Someone is so desperate, so broken and tired that they see no other option but to stand at an intersection. We can meet this person and offer hope.

I don’t have an answer or idea about solving these issues…that’s for people smarter than me. This article is just about a “call.” The His House call that many in this church and community receive. The call to lift up the broken and tired and share our blessings with others who are desperate and tired.