Live Like LucasThe non-profit organization Live Like Lucas was founded in August of 2015 in order to accomplish the goal of empowering youth to spread kindness. Our first official event was on January 16, 2016 where we had over 200 youth as well as adults participate in service projects and random acts of kindness in the Grand Rapids area. We served a pancake breakfast at Park church, made over 100 lunches and hygiene kits and distributed them to the poor along Division avenue. We made breakfast and did activities with the children at Hope Community, which is temporary housing for single moms and their children. We went to nursing homes and played bingo and bowling with the elderly. We distributed fifty 10.00 gift cards at Meijer as a random act of kindness. The result of just this one day was astounding. The volunteers had their eyes opened to situations that they had never been in before and met people unlike they had ever encountered. They saw people in poverty as real, worthy, human beings who weren’t just lazy. They saw the elderly, as one student put it “peppy and funny and mischievous.” They connected with people who were far outside of the Forest Hills “bubble.” And they wanted to go back. They wanted to do more. They asked, “When can we do this again?” Live Like Lucas is not just about spreading kindness out on the streets of Grand Rapids but also in our schools. We are currently researching programs and speakers to encourage our youth to practice kindness EVERY DAY- not just to their own friends but to those who feel alone and disenfranchised. We want to encourage friendships across all social, racial, and socio-economic boundaries. Teaching kindness also needs to start young. We are working on a program with “Lucas puppets” for the social workers to use to teach lessons on being kind to others and encourage conversation about sadness and loneliness and bullying. The kids will be able to put letters to Lucas in a mailbox so they can express their feelings and in turn the social workers can address these issues. One especially powerful method of learning about kindness in a global way is through mission projects. Our goal for next summer is to fund or partially fund at least 10 trips to Guatemala for kids who would otherwise be unable to go due to financial concerns. Lucas went 2 years ago with my grandparents and it was life changing for him to see the utter poverty and lack of medical care that was available for these people they visited in remote villages. He was prompted to really think about what his future looked like- he had planned on going into the medical field and now felt drawn to the mission field. Live Like Lucas has a vision of youth who look outside of themselves, look outside of wealth and power and popularity as goals and really see the world as how it is- full of hurting people. Even a small act of kindness can turn someone’s day around. It may even change their life.
Monthly Archives: July 2015
What could be harder in this glamorized materialistic keep-up-with-the-Jones’ country?
I know I can’t be the only one.
Before I kind of thought it was OK, I mean my husband works sooooo hard, why can’t we have those things that everyone else has? Why can’t we go on a nice vacation? Why can’t we replace our ripped up funiture? Why can’t I drive a newer vehicle?
Ha. Stuck up brat is what I am. I am comfortable beyond belief. A roof over my head? I have a 2000 foot square house. We built 12×12 foot sheet metal houses for people in Guatamala and they were on their faces on the ground crying. I have comfy furniture, an amazing bed, a table to eat on, fridges and cupboards full of food, I can take my kids to a pool any day I want, they do camps…Not mention they have so many clothes and toys that I could have probably given a piece away to everyone in line at the food distribution. Oh yeah, and I have a vehicle. I can DRIVE WHEREVER I WANT!!! If my kids need to go to the doctor, the dentist, the store, visit friends, visit relatives, whever. Whenever.
If you are Guatemalan and have extra cash (which is rare) you get to ride one of these in a tuk tuk.
Or maybe cram yourself into a chicken bus:
Or more likely you will find transportation like this:
This was also an extremely common sight (if you had money for a motorcycle!)
So the transportation is at best…scary.
After all that, can you believe I was still whining to my husband about wanting a new vehicle? That translator, Mauricio that traveled with us most of the week (who is AMAZING) but I will talk about him more later- has a tiny Honda Civic or something similar- which he drives 12 or more kids to church in every Sunday. He is a youth leader. I immediately exclaimed, “you need a van!!!” as if he was about to just go out and buy one. He said to me, “God will provide. I trust in God. I do not ask for help, I just trust.” That made the biggest impression on me I think out of the entire trip. Just trust.
After seeing such poverty (even among those with “good” jobs- a nurse for example makes $50 a week) I just want to give my Suburban to Mauricio. Or help raise money to buy him a van. How many vans can I buy you ask? I don’t know but I will trust too. I will pray. God will provide. What powerful message. With trust comes contentment. It is not my will but his. Did I provide myself with all the conveniences and amenities around me? No. It was God.
Matthew 6: 32-33
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Please don’t forget, if you haven’t yet, to donate to the medical van if you so desire.
Its been a whole week since I have been back from Guatamala and I can’t believe I haven’t written a thing so far- its a combination of having my dear little children around all of the time and being so overwhelmed by the experience I don’t really know where to start.
What is on my mind today is how the people in Guatemala have so many things right. One of which is their sense of community. Togetherness. Watching out for one another. We may think we do that- but trust me, its but a mere shadow of what they have.
True- their houses are mere feet apart. Built into mountain sides with dangerous, uneven footing and slippery clay underfoot- its like a maze and you wonder how children (and adults) aren’t constantly breaking their ankles. Yet living there since birth they seem to have adapted. There is no other way.
Yet is it not that much different than the neighborhoods many of us live in with people living next to us and behind us and in front of us, just a few minutes walk away. Yet we close ourselves off. We don’t even know our neighbors. We shut our doors and do whatever we do in our American houses. Hop on Facebook or Instagram and “share.” Its not sharing.
I can’t think of one time I went on Facebook and felt really connected to someone. Really connected.
However spending nearly a week with groups of women and watching them and seeing them do laundry together, watch each others children, just walking around the village with their babies on their back- it just seemed so right. I would imagine this is what God would have in mind for his people.
When everyone has a one room cement or tin house with a dirt floor and maybe a makeshift bed of scrap wood and corn stalks, one lightbulb in their house, one window, one door, everyone is on a pretty level playing field. No one is griping, “well she has TWO lightbulbs!” There is definitely no vacation envy or car envy or Louis Vuitton bag envy.
Instead, they help each other out as needed. When I gave a little girl a granola bar she promptly broke it into three pieces- one for her, one for her sister and one for her mother The giving is evident- They shared their pop with us, cookies- things that are a sacrifice for them. Yet they gave willingly.
We went to Guatemala to help them- by building houses- but they gave us so much more.
This is the house we dedicated to Lucas.
(Notice many Guatamalans don’t smile for pictures- unless we told them to- because they don’t realize what they look like in pictures. They don’t know they are supposed to.)
Another family we built a house for.
photo credits Mariah Nelesen
It’s a big week. In two days, the 16th, I leave for a mission trip to Guatemala- the exact one that Lucas went on last year.
In two days it will also be the 6 month anniversary of the day Lucas went to heaven.
As the tears fill my eyes and my brain still wants to push the idea aside and scream NOOOOOOOOOOO! I realize I must accept this. It is so hard to see in print. So. So. hard.
I came to the website to blog not because I was particularly sad and wanted to pour my heart out, but because I want Lucas to be remembered for his LIFE. I want that life and everything it meant to be celebrated on July 16th.
I want Thursday to be a where GOD WINS. What would Lucas want? For us to cry for him and mourn his death?
I don’t think so.
Its a LIVE LIKE LUCAS DAY.
So what are you gonna do about it? First of all if you have an LLL shirt- wear that puppy. With your bracelet of course.
This Thursday is a day of MISSIONS. Yes you can go to Guatemala to do that- I am finally after 36 years going on a real live mission trip and I am pumped. You know who inspired me to do that? Lucas.
Sometimes you just need a little push. Let your little push be LLL day. Here’s a place to start:
A mission can be in your backyard or across the world. It might even be in your own house.
I heard the greatest song yesterday:
With every act of Love- We bring the kingdom come.