“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” John1:14 The Message
October 17, 2017
I have worked with Logan for three years. He is quiet and reserved unless delivering one of his funny quips around the table at lunch or in a meeting. Before last week, I am not even sure I could have adequately told you what he does at Project 658 other than he is always willing and available to help a fellow staff member in need. He also oversees the processing and distribution of our branded roast, Restored Coffee.
Last Wednesday Logan shuffled into the office around 9:00am. He was sleepy eyed and had been recently roused by a little, African American toddler. They walked into the office holding hands.
This was nothing new as we have all seen Logan and Katrina together quite bit at work in the last few weeks. What was startling this particular morning was that they were twinning. They were dressed exactly alike from their denim jackets and blue jeans to their matching off-white Saucony sneakers.
Logan walked over to our snack cabinet, grabbed a piece of dark chocolate, unwrapped it, and handed it to Katrina. Her face beamed at the breakfast and at him. Then they locked hands again and walked out of the office into the cafe.
My friend Sarah and I turned back to our work, but I could not resist finally asking the question that I had been too busy to ask.
“Sarah,” I said “Who is she?”
“She’s Pepe’s little sister,” she responded, as if that settled it.
I knew of Pepe. He was the one I had seen asleep in Jessie’s lap around the Project 658 lunch table for the last couple of years. But I did not know him. I did not know his story or his sister’s.
“Why is Katrina with Logan all the time right now?” I asked.
Sarah answered, “Their mom is in the hospital. She was diagnosed with cancer and begins chemo this week. Pepe is staying with the boys, and Katrina is having a sleepover with the girls.”
When she spoke of the “boys” and the “girls,” I knew she was referring to Logan, Zach, Mariotti, Jessie, and Morgan who work for Project 658 and The Urban Eagles. These five millennials are friends and live intentionally in Sailboat Bay, an apartment complex off Albemarle Rd. that houses low income residents, refugees, and at risk international families.
What I did not know, but am slowly learning, is just how much this young quintet is giving of themselves in order to care for their neighbors without really telling anyone about it.
Wanting to know more, I sat down with Logan to get the full story.
He moved into the neighborhood with Zach 3 years ago. That is where he met Tibe, a single mom from Eritrea. Her husband was not kind and was often out of the house. Logan would see Pepe riding around the apartment complex on a two wheeler by himself when the he was only 2 1⁄2 years old. At that point the girls were already heavily invested in Tibe’s life helping to care for him and his 3 older siblings while she had to work. Katrina is the youngest of her family.
Over the years, they have driven the children and their friends back and forth to soccer practice. They have advocated with maintenance for repairs in Tibe’s apartment including getting a leaky, rotten wax ring on the toilet fixed that had been corroded and neglected for months.
They have tutored children in their schoolwork, spent time doing bible studies with the teenagers, invited the kids over for movie nights, and watched over the little ones in such a way that made everyone feel safe, loved, and wanted.
A cancer diagnosis for any family is hard and disorienting, but for a single mom who does not speak English or drive it can feel impossible.
But not for Tibe, because she is not alone.
She has 5 neighbors who have driven her to all of her doctor’s appointments. She has 5 friends that have supported her children while they translate this new world of medical terminology, treatments, and surgeries, because her language is so remote that only her kids speak it. She has 5 caregivers that are so much more like family that she can have a one week hospital stay for chemotherapy and not worry about where her children are sleeping at night.
All because they moved into the neighborhood.