Friday, February 27, 2015

Not So Random Acts - Tracy Krauss

Random Acts of Kindness...

This month's prompt reminded me of an activity our youth group did many years ago when we were in full time ministry. The youth group decided to do several random acts of kindness around the small town where we lived. Stacking firewood and shovelling snow were among the typical activities. Fun and fellowship; outdoor exercise and fresh air... these were the payoffs beyond the good feelings that doing something for someone else brings.

End of story, right? Well, I need to caveat this next part with a little explanation about my husband. He is a 'go big or go home' kind of guy. Doing a few odd jobs for the elderly, although a nice gesture, just didn't seem like enough.

There was a certain man in our town who had a problem with hoarding. You actually could not see his house from the street because there was so much junk piled in his front yard. The town had served him with multiple fines over the years to no avail. The next step was to send in a clean up crew, which they threatened to do, and which he would have to pay for.

Hoarding is actually a serious form of mental illness. For those of us looking in, it seems ridiculous to form such an attachment to what looks like garbage. The gentleman in question had a brother who lived nearby our church, and he asked if my husband would go over and see his brother, who was by this time extremely distraught. I might mention that the man with the hoarding problem was also a bit of a recluse. He drove around in his van collecting bottles and spending lots of time at the dump, but didn't interact much with people.

Part of the irony of this story is that my husband is a clean freak. For instance, he won't take out the garbage without wearing gloves. Seriously. He likes a tidy house. (And yes, he helps keep it that way!) But he's also compassionate and loves Jesus, so he went over to talk.

The man with the hoarding problem actually didn't see anything wrong with his property. Not only was his yard FULL, but his house was the same. Even his van was packed with so much stuff, mostly salvaged from the dump, that only the driver's seat was free. There wasn't much my husband could do on his own. The town crew were coming the following week with a loader and a big dump truck. The homeowner was overwhelmed.

But then my husband had an idea. Here was a way to show the love of Jesus to a man who was, by most standards, unloveable. He assembled a crew of teens and just showed up after school one day and started sorting. With the homeowner's 'supervision', they managed to pile things up into groupings. (Old washing machines here, engine parts there, scrap metal, bottles and cans... ) They were even allowed to take several trips to the dump with some actual garbage.

Several evenings and an entire weekend later, the yard, while by no means a show piece, at least looked organized. It was enough to make the town officials postpone their clean up operation, and it made that man weep with gratitude.

In the end, his yard continued to pile up once again. I'm not sure whether the town came and did something about it after all, since we moved away. But the experience certainly had an impact on the youth that were involved. It was not glamorous or fun. It was a dirty and disgusting job. But sometimes the love of Jesus shines best in these kinds of circumstances.  


David Kitz said...

This reminds me of a day my son and I helped a hoarder clean her apartment in Chicago. What an ordeal! Everything has value to a hoarder. But then Jesus is a hoarder. He keeps and adores the likes of us!

Tracy Krauss said...

fortunately, Jesus also makes all things new!

Peter Black said...

Heartwarming story of a lovely deed of caring, Tracy. And David's anecdote and comment provides a suitable exclamation point!
God only knows the full extent of the good that was accomplished and the seeds of character and kindness sown in hearts, through your husband's initiative and the young folks who got on board. (Likewise in the instance of you and your son, David.)~~+~~

Tracy Krauss said...

Thanks for your comment Peter. So true - only god knows the final outcome.

Susan Harris said...

It must have been memorable to the man and memories cannot be measured tangibly.

fudge4ever said...

That's such a great example of how Jesus is the answer for the problems around town! I really believe that and your teens learned about God in the process as well. Great story!!
Pam M.

Glynis said...

Great example of walking the talk. Love this story. Seriously? A neat freak hubby? Can I borrow him?

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