Hopefully you haven't noticed that I have not blogged for quite some time. You know the holidays, 3 weeks vacation, home now getting my ducks back in a row, (where did that saying come from anyhow?)
So I will begin 2013 sharing a highlight from our time away. We spent the last night of our vacation in Memphis TN as we made our way back to Nebraska from Florida. Here is what happened:
When we visit a new city I am always interested in seeing the hot spots. I am curious about where the great shopping is, what events or entertainment we might want to check out, or what scenic spots we should see. Then there is my beloved husband. When we visit a new city he has one thing on his mind..... Where is the "hood"? I kid you not. He cannot help himself. It is like there is a gravitational pull reeling him in. I however am not always thrilled by this desire. I know we have been called to Omaha's "hood" and have supernatural covering to be there. But, an unfamiliar city is another story in my book.
It happened to be Ty's 52nd birthday. He was about to get an unexpected birthday gift. We had just visited Martin Luther King's Memorial. When we got into our car to head to our hotel I suggested we check out the downtown area of Memphis to see what it looked like. Within a few blocks we happened upon Beale Street. Here is what we saw!
Talk about finding where the action is. We definitely found it. We parked the car and headed for Beale Street.
Almost immediately we saw two young black men who were performing flips in the middle of the street and then collecting donations from the crowd. Of course my husband began conversing with one of them and inquiring about their group. He told Ty that they were known nationally as The Flippers. He then walked us into an adjacent club to introduce us to Rod, the founder and head of The Flippers. Rod told us he was no longer an active flipper because he had been shot in the butt. Ty told him what we do in Omaha and Rod came alive.
Rod called Ty "white chocolate" and commented on his "swag". Little did he know that he was making my husbands day!!!! Rod informed us that he was the king of the streets in Memphis and that he was known by all. He had street cred and was not shy in telling us. Ty asked about their "hood" and Rod replied, it is right over there, two streets away, wanna see it? Well, do I even need to tell you what happened next? We began walking with Rod to see "the hood". We immediately noticed that Rod walked with an obvious limp. He told us he limped from the bullet in his butt and deteriorating discs in his back. As we walked he told us about the area and some history about Beale Street. It used to be part of the Memphis inner city.
I would be lying if I did not tell you that I had the thought, "he could roll us at any moment", but somehow I knew we were safe. We walked through empty lots and within two blocks of Beale Street, we were smack dab in middle of the hood. He took us by "Streets Ministries" which is Memphis' Hope Center and then some. He took us in a neighborhood convenience store and introduced us to everyone inside. People continued to ask if they could speak with him and he told them all later. He told us about his life, the neighborhood and the racial climate in Memphis. His perspective was fascinating.
We probably spent an hour and a half with our new found friend. I think he was as fascinated with us as we were with him. We walked back to Beale Street and we chatted a bit longer. We thanked him for the tour and his time. As we said our goodbyes he told us to be praying for him. We asked if we could pray for him there and now. He did not hesitate to say yes. He told us to wait so he could put down his cigarette. He said he did not want to go to prayer with a cigarette in his mouth. We just laughted. We prayed for his health and safety. We prayed for favor and revelation of God's love for him. Then we prayed for healing for his back and blessing on his life. We hugged goodbye and left Rod standing there talking with his next customer. Not sure what he was selling and definitely sure we did not want to know. We will never forget "FlipperRod".