The day was somewhat normal for this project. Family, friends, facebook followers, and more stopped to chat about the project and Hope Venture. "Jo" got his hug like the days before. I also now chat with one of the food court cleaning crew. Though he is a bit hard to understand, we talk about our work and bowling. For the most part, the day went by quickly as I worked on the ground of the mosaic, small spaces in the blue areas, and filling in the green in the center panel. I worked hard to get the piece ready for the final public work day tomorrow. Just two days of work left and the panels will leave the mall until they are hung in early November.
Some of my family visited today and it got me thinking about who has impacted my life through the years. I also thought about the jobs I've had that have helped play a role in who I am today and what I do as an artist. I can say that many people and experiences, good and bad, are part of who I am. I am thankful for each moment, challenge, and person who has influenced my life. Some people who I've met this week will be included in those who have influenced and challenged me. Many have shared their stories with me and provided encouragement.
As I've already said, today went smoothly until about 2 pm. A friend who'd stopped by to help left for an appointment and I struggled to stay working for the next hour. I wanted to leave and go do something for me. I had an errand to run and get my kids from camp and I just wanted to leave. Several times, I thought about it and every time I sense God wanting me to stay, encouraging it. I struggled but kept working. Again I wanted to go but felt compelled to stay -- and not in a fun way. It was hard to stay focused on working for the next hour. Then at 3 pm my alarm went off signalling it was time to go, and that's when the afternoon got interesting. As I put supplies away, I saw two people come to where I was working. As I started a conversation explaining Hope Venture, I saw one women clinch her mouth together and form a stern or disconcerted look on her face. I knew she was questioning what I was saying. I sensed it had something to do with sending money overseas. As polite as she was trying to be, I drew her out. I asked her what she was thinking and she hesitated. I told her I really wanted to know and she proceeded to let me know she wasn't supportive of what I was doing and that we had problems here to solve. As I had experienced something like this earlier in the project, I tried hard to keep my mouth shut. This time I was told how poorly some Veterans are treated. Again, I learned the story. Family members unable to support themselves and a government program not helping. After listening for 20 minutes or so, they had to go and I was able to leave. By this point, I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I drove out to get my kids from camp in silence trying to process this day. When I made it home, I found my husband already there. I couldn't help but emotionally unload. I was tired and raw from the last conversation. This was the first time in 14 days I cried. Tears of burden for the people in all sorts of pain and those who are looking for the answers. Also the reality of our selfish human natures that seek benefit for our own well being and failure to see those deeply in need.
And yet, in the muck and mire of it all, God sent His Son. Amazing. And He not only came to save us, but to call us to take part in His work of redeeming His world. Meaning we don't work for God's approval, we work out of a relationship with Him. We work with Him! He calls broken, unlikely people to step up in faith and share in the joy of His news of Hope. And let me say being used by Him is an adventure and amazing experience I wish for each and every reader of this. He has a purpose for you. Just seek Him, He will show you, and it will be incredible.
Ann has worked as a professional artist since 2006. She currently works on her own studio artwork as well as large, commercial works and with other artists in any way she can.