Every city has a "hood". It's generally known as the rough part of town, full of poverty, violence, drugs and folks just barely scraping by. Most people avoid it at all costs and think nothing good can possibly happen there or come out of there.
For most of this past year, Trent or I or both of us have driven a route in the church van each Sunday to pick up some of our youth for church and take them home after. One of these kids lives in our city's version of the hood, East Waco, in a Section 8 government housing complex that is one of the more notorious, Estella Maxey. These weekly trips have reminded me that hood is just short for neighborhood and I've gotten to see a whole lot of the neighbor part. You see, people in the hood...they're just people. As the wheels on the church van went round and round, I learned that there is indeed good that comes out of this hurting area of our city. So, I hereby present to you: 4 reasons I wouldn't mind living in the hood.
1. Kids play outside together
If you drive through the hood...go slow. Sure wouldn't want you to hit one of the many kids playing outside. Xbox, iPhone, Tivo? Nope. Siblings, neighbors, bikes, balls, chalk, garden hose, hula hoops, and creative ways to have fun with them out in the sunshine? Yep.
2. Adults sit outside together
In the hood, you'll see adults of all ages sitting outside together, enjoying each other's company and enjoying the evening. Some may haul out a small table and play some dominoes. Some may be tending a BBQ pit or getting their hair fixed. Some just sit and talk to each other and some just sit. When was the last time that you sat on your porch for an evening with some neighbors or family members? Or a more appropriate question for today's society...when was the last time that you just...sat?
3. Sweet rims to look at
So, um, the thing is...in another life where unnecessary things were free and I didn't have a professional, Volvo driving persona to maintain, I would have some sweet rims on my car. I haven't confessed this to many people, but now I suppose the chrome is out of the bag. I love me some swag rims. And in the hood...they are all over. Now, notice I said "sweet rims to look at", because if I was living in the hood, I wouldn't need to be spending money on blingy wheels. But that wouldn't stop me from staring at the shiny ill-spent money holding up other peoples' cars!
4. Church vans criss cross the hood
One Sunday when I was nearing Estella Maxey in our own church van (aka Whitey Bear, aka Ninja Van), I counted four other church vans within my line of sight at one time. Another time on a Wednesday night, I noticed I was the first of three church vans in line at a red light on JJ Flewellen. Well, one was a full on church bus. During another span of several Sundays, we noticed the Greater New Vision M.B.C. van in a parking lot with its hood up and a large puddle under it, then the next week it was in the same spot but turned around at least with some tell tale mechanic supplies around it, then the next week as I was driving that way...I saw that old, tan, Greater New Vision van traipsing down the road the other direction and hollered "it's alive!" You see, there seems to be a camaraderie among church van drivers. I don't know how many complete strangers I have waved at or received waves and nods from just because we encountered each other while driving very large, sometimes beautifully beat up vehicles with a church name slapped on the side. If you live in the hood and want to go to church but have no ride, no need to look very far. For those of us who don't live in the hood, how many people would be able to come to our church if we would simply go get them?
The hood is a hurting area for sure. There is struggle there. There is poverty there. But there is also good there. Lots of good.