Posted by: Jessica Rood | January 11, 2010

January Newsletter

Throughout my life I have always had neighbors, but I never intentionally tried to get to know them.  In the past I just lived for myself, not caring for those around me.  I was completely focused on me.  Even while attending a bible college, I did not really talk to my neighbors, I just associated with my friends.  This pattern would have continued if I had not come to HOPE.

Nancy is our neighbor.  She is an African American 46 year old woman.  She is a school teacher, domestic violence survivor, single mother, and an amazing Christian woman.  She inspires me in so many ways. She has not had an easy life. She was married but it ended in divorce because of abuse.  She knows God is going to provide her with a good Christian man in the future.  Her confidence is a tribute to her faith…and an inspiration to myself.  It is largely thanks to her that I can confidently proclaim, “I love getting to know my neighbors!”

The week before Christmas break, Emily, Linsey and I surprised the kids on our street by making cookies.  Emily and I went to deliver the cookies. (Linsey was not able to go with us because she has been ill.  Please keep Linsey in your prayers as she is still going  through a time of illness). As we were returning home, Nancy was outside talking to Eliza (another neighbor) about recent events that occurred in our neighborhood.  Emily and I joined the conversation and before we knew it we were on our way to K-mart with Nancy.  We went shopping and got a few things for the house while Nancy bought Christmas presents.

While we were shopping, Nancy bought us a Christmas present without telling us who it was for.  Fortunately, we had the same plan for her: we discovered several elegant glass candleholders that Nancy loved.  We went back and got them for her as a Christmas present.  The warmth and excitement I felt when we gave her the gift still resonates; she loved them! She even stated that she is going to use them as a centerpiece at her wedding.

After Christmas break, Emily and I returned to her house and the candleholders where her table centerpiece. She was so excited to show them to us. Nancy had purchased herself a Wii while were gone – to workout on the Wii Fit – so she invited Emily and I to play.  We stayed there for about an hour, laughing and enjoying each others company.

Nine months ago I had not a clue who Nancy was, but now we are exchanging Christmas gifts, hanging out, and playing Wii. If I would have moved into this neighborhood on my own, I would not have gotten to know Nancy, but because of the HOPE program where I was challenged to get to know my neighbors; I am able to exchange gifts and develop long lasting friendships.

There are so many other neighbors I have gotten to know.  There is an atheist couple down the street expecting their first child.  A blue collar single mother and her teenage son live right next door. A grandmother, her son, and his kids live just down the block. Our block is very unique.  It is mixed of both African Americans and Caucasians. Our neighborhood itself, however, is predominately African American.  These demographics are completely different from my hometown.

Going home to PA for Christmas I very easily fell into my old pattern.  I did not talk to one neighbor.  I know it’s not where I live anymore, but what I am learning now is something I want to take with me the rest of my life. If I am not being intentional while living in my current lifestyle, how can I ever hope to be intentional once I complete the HOPE program?

This is where ya’ll can come beside me in support.  I know it is far off, but I will need your support when I am done with HOPE.  Returning home exposed the depth of materialism that is present in the world.  I was home for such a short period, yet found myself reverting to old patterns of behavior.  HOPE is making it plain that accountability is key.  I am asking you to keep me accountable in all areas of my life that have changed while I have been at HOPE.  I want you to ask me how I am doing.  I want you to be involved in my life.  I will need you then and I need you now.  Please continue to send your support.  As a team we are still working to reach our goal.

Though I have built a great  community here, I still miss home.  I could use your support financially, but I can also use it with letters of encouragement, cards, and prayers.  Knowing that you are with me in this journey offers me the encouragement I need when things get really tough.  I need you guys!  I can not do what I am doing with out you!


  1. Dear Lord bring light into a weary world, renew each hope and take into account the patterns of our not-so-perfect lives, forgive our sins whatever the amount. Turn our thoughts toward things of lasting worth, show us the folly of a wasted day, teach us to come to You … no stone so great that You cannot remove it from our way.
    Grace E. Easley

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