By Russell and Maree Jones

We move around a lot due to Russell’s job, and when we relocated from Florida to Oklahoma, our family was pretty lonely. Oklahoma is the furthest we’ve ever lived from “home,” and we knew we needed to establish some kind of community here. But how do you even begin connecting with total strangers?

After we began attending Acts 2, we knew we wanted to get more involved, as well as become members and hopefully make some friends along the way. That’s when we saw something called Dinner For Eight (D48) in the bulletin. It was a part of this program called Find Your Place, which is exactly what we were trying to do.

We shyly walked over to a table and signed up without knowing what to expect. A few weeks later, we received our first email introducing us to our group. We didn’t recognize a single name in the email loop, but we pushed through that initial awkwardness to commit to our first dinner together at Brad and Janie Humphreys’ house.

That night ended up being so much fun! Brad and Janie were so welcoming and made us feel comfortable right away. We also met Kevin and Dawn Turner and found out that we had so much in common. We talked about TV shows, movies, pets, kids, sports and more. There really wasn’t a pause in the conversation that night. Everything just flowed.

Little did we know the journey upon which we would soon embark.

Soon after that initial meeting (and completely unrelated to it), our family felt called to become foster parents. The story behind that is even longer than this one, but we were put in the right place at the right time to move forward with it.

There was just one catch. We were still new to the area and really didn’t have anyone we could lean on as alternate caregivers, which is a big step in completing the foster care process. Nevertheless, we continued as best we could even with that worry in the backs of our minds. Who would we even ask? How do you ask? How could we do this huge thing and not have a support system? It was overwhelming.

We kept having dinners with our group throughout the fall, and eventually, we told everyone in our group that we were becoming foster care parents without really knowing how they would react. They barely knew us. Why should they even care?

We should’ve known better.

Everyone was so amazing and immediately supportive. The Turners and the Humphreys were genuinely excited for us. It made us feel so good to have them there to share in that moment with us, and it was then that we felt our months-long search for community and friendship was over.

Not only that, but the Humphreys quickly stepped forward and offered to become our (eventual) foster child’s alternate caregivers. What a blessing! We definitely didn’t see that coming when we signed up for D48. We didn’t know we’d be getting family! Their decision to get involved was truly an answered prayer.

And the Turners? We were all away from our extended families for the holidays, so we decided to spend time together making new memories. From watching Christmas movies to bracing the frigid temperatures on New Year’s Eve, they’ve become dear friends to us over the past few months.

Between Brad’s burgers, Dawn’s guacamole and the Dirty Santa gifts that had us laughing until we were crying, we were so grateful to have met this wonderful group of people last year. It’s amazing how God used something as ordinary and unexceptional as dinner to turn complete strangers into friends and family.

If you would like to find your place at Acts 2, please contact Director of Discipleship Melissa Nelms.

Acts 2 United Methodist Church

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