I have piles and piles and piles of clothing here at my house...all of it needing to be sorted, tagged and hung on hangers (of which I do not have enough). The kids and I have been working for hours and hours and hours on those piles and piles and piles...and there are still piles.
Now, don't get me wrong...I'm grateful for those piles. You see, last Friday and Saturday was my first experience with a consignment sale. I had never even been to a consignment sale, let alone participate in one and help set one up. My new friends at Second Chance Charm originally came to our yard sale in Santaquin and, after finding out about our cause, invited us to participate with several perks, all of which help benefit our fundraising efforts. These dear, sweet women have helped walk me through my first experience with consigning and answered all my questions patiently. I sold nothing last week...nothing; mostly because my items at that point were all adult size clothing and I learned that this is more of a children's clothing sale, but also because the consignment sale was shut down early. A man from Springville city showed up and announced that the sale had not been set up properly so it would have to be closed down. My new friends tried to help him understand that they had done what they were told to do in order to set it up properly, but he refused to show mercy. So we packed up, disappointed but glad there was a sale this week in Midvale. So, I didn't sell anything, but I did, however, have a new experience and I learned A LOT.
While I was helping with the early pack up, I got a phone call from my friend's sweet mother telling me that she had a source of items that might help our fundraising. She was at a clothing swap held at the BYU married housing church gym. This swap was hosted, organized and planned by seven women, all spouses of the MBA and law school students who make a promise not to work for the first year of their programs. With such a financial need, they were inspired to begin this service of providing clothing for families at no cost. They take donations and store them in various locations until the day of the swap. That day, they serviced more than 500 families. They were willing to let us pick through what remained after their event.
After spending two days consigning, I had a much better idea of what would sell...and I knew I had another week in a more lenient town to try to make a go of it. So, I raced up to BYU as quickly as I could and called my husband for back up...and a trailer.
One trailer load and one giant pick up load later, I have at least a thousand articles of clothing at my house. While we were unloading these giant black bags into my garage, all I could think of was the fact that there are people out there in the world who don't even have a shirt to wear, let alone two. And here I am, loading a store-size inventory of clothes and shoes into my garage...for free.
I haven't written about this before, but recalling those feelings suddenly brings back the memory of our first Saturday with Ruslan. He had been with us since late Monday night/Tuesday morning. There were activities planned almost every day of their stay here and Saturdays were reserved for mandatory dinners/barbecues/get-togethers that we were to take the children we were hosting to attend. Any families interested in adoption were invited to meet the children and other families.
Our first Saturday dinner was held at a large, beautiful home in Draper; up on the hill, trampoline, play equipment, mountain view, tables and canopies set up with serving trays of food piled high. After we had all eaten, the orphans were asked to stand in front of all the guests and were introduced, one by one, to the interested families. (At this point, we knew we loved Ruslan but we weren't financially prepared to make a commitment to adopt him so we didn't feel right about keeping him with us. I also felt we needed time away from each other to know what all our feelings really were. We knew he'd be going with another family the next week and we knew that there was a very real possibility that someone more prepared than we were could decide to pursue the adoption of both children and that would be it.)
Those children were all standing there in a line, Ruslan at the end. He looked uncomfortable and almost sad. I couldn't help myself and I just started to cry. Well, it was more like a sob, to be honest. There was a sudden flood of emotion that came over me. I almost physically hurt to see Rulsan look like that. I imagined what it was like for him to be there, representing himself and his sister to strangers, looking for a way out, a way up. He was suddenly a man, a man with responsibility for more than just himself...and at only 14.
But, it was more than just my feelings about Ruslan. It was a feeling of shame. Here were these children with nothing, literally nothing. No family, no material thing they actually owned, no one they belonged to and nothing belonged to them. Can a child of God be any more humble? Can a person be any more alone? To be a child with no one who loves you...that is the epitome of loneliness. And there they were, standing in the midst of every possible material thing and several loving, intact families...abundance in every sense of the word. What a painful contrast. And never again will I wonder why it was so important to the Lord to admonish us to "visit the fatherless and the widows".
Here I am, again, in the midst of material abundance with my piles of clothes, shoes, toys; ready for sale. What an irony...to twist and maneuver within the societal norms into which I have been born, to make it possible to remove that loneliness from two of God's children. To sell material things to accomplish a spiritual goal. And it takes time. Lots and lots of time.