The Urban Fresh Podcast

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Urban Fresh Gardens, Inc.

11 November 2023

47m 47s

Fanny Marone - Seasoned City Missionary in Waterbury, CT



Fanny's been working in Waterbury for decades. She loves this city, even if some people disregard it.  

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Speaker A: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Urban Fresh Podcast. I'm Tanisha. Today we are interviewing Fanny Marone in Waterbury, Connecticut. Fanny is funny, feisty, and fired up about the work she believes God has called her to do in this urban landscape. I just want to make this disclaimer. Fanny and I do not always share the same opinions, but I count her as a sister in Christ because I believe as Christians we will disagree and still end up in heaven because we believe in the basics and that there is one way to heaven and that way is through Jesus Christ. All right, I hope you will enjoy, as I did, this interview with Fanny Marone.

Speaker A: But I was in the insurance industry for like 25 years, and then I got my insurance, my real estate license. So I did that for about 45 years. But through all those years, I've always been an activist for my community, my city. So I think some of that is how people got to know me. And a lot of it was through real estate.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: I always ran a straight ship. I never messed around with people. I think I was pretty straightforward. I think anybody that I worked with could tell you that. I think integrity is probably the best character you can have. I spent all those years in the public between working and doing community work.

Speaker C: Got it.

Speaker D: And we'll get more into what type of work you do in the community. But what about growing up? Did you grow up in Waterbury?

Speaker A: I grew up right in this house.

Speaker D: Wow.

Speaker A: I'm third generation in this.

Speaker D: What? Do you remember the year that your family came here from Italy?

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker A: My grandmother, grandfather, and my dad came from Italy. My mother was born here.

Speaker C: Okay, got it.

Speaker A: Do I remember when. No. He was a teenager, though. Yeah.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker D: What was life like growing up here in water?

Speaker A: It was wonderful.

Speaker C: Good.

Speaker A: But you know what? That's why I had such a great start. That's why I was always like, pro Waterberry.

Speaker C: Yes.

Speaker A: It's changed a lot. Just ******* people all the time that are in my age group.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker A: That remember what it was like. The best place ever to grow up. Just the best place to grow Up. There was a lot of activity. Kids were not in trouble. We could walk anywhere. If you've talked to anybody, you've probably heard that before.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: It was a safe place with families.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: Meaning Mom, dad, children, and we all looked out for each other.

Speaker C: Got it.

Speaker D: Well, you said Waterbury was a wonderful place. And I wanted to quote something from an article by Ken Burns in PBS.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker D: It was called the Four Towns. And they featured Waterbury as one of four towns, I guess, that were affected by the war. And there's a guy named Tom Ciaarlo. I hope I'm saying his name right. C-I-A.

Speaker A: Charlo.

Speaker D: C-I-A-R-L-O. Is that how you say Charlote? Okay, so he says, this is a quote from him. Waterbury at that time, during the war, was. Sorry, Waterbury at that time, during the war. You could almost compare it to a miniature Times Square. Can you relate to that?

Speaker A: Yeah, it was that busy? Yeah, it was a lot of. Especially here in the North End. It was like the place to go, the best restaurant. We had roller skating. We had all kinds of dancing. Dancing was the big thing, especially in the 50s. You could dance your heart out every. Every weekend. There was something going on. There was never a lack of something to do. We had amazing stores downtown, beautiful clothing. The women all wore hats. So we had Oakler's hat shop. And we still laugh sometimes when my friends and I get on the elevator. Get on an elevator, like in City hall or something, and we always know, what floor would you like? It was a fun floor. All just for lingerie and one for just hats. It was called Holland Hughes. It was right downtown in the middle of the city. Big, huge building, like four stories, I think it was.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker D: And all that went away, right?

Speaker A: Yep, it did.

Speaker D: So, as you know, Waterbury is known as the Brass City because of the amount of that material, I guess, that was made here. Do you remember any of your family members working in that industry?

Speaker A: Yeah, I think my grandfather probably did, because he came here. We didn't live on the street. We lived in the East End. He must have made enough money to buy us a one family house in the east on Wilkest Street.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: And Wilkes street was just woods, and there were five little Cape Cod houses, and we had one of them.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: That was about all that was up there. There was no, you know, what Walker street looks like now? With all the stores and restaurants, there was nothing. And then he had friends that lived in this neighborhood and all multifamily houses. And we decided that this is where we wanted to be. So everyone spoke Italian here and English. So we moved here to be with all of our cousins and aunts and uncles and whatever. Distant cousins. Yeah, that's why we came here. I've been here ever since.

Speaker D: Wow. So Waterbury obviously changed after the Second World War. And how did that affect your family? So you said you think somebody was working in the brass industry in your family. Did it impact you in any way, your family?

Speaker A: No, my mom went to work in. We called it the rubber shop in Nagatuk. So she was fine. She used to work on the conveyor line. I remember one year, she asked me, when I was a teen working age, right. She says, you want to come to work with me? And I knew the money was good. I said, yes. Oh, well, bad thing that was because they put me on the conveyor belt, and I was Pokey, and everybody was yelling at me, come on, speed it up, speed it up. But, yeah, she was working there. And my dad, he was a projectionist in the theaters, so he would go from one theater to another, wherever he was.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: So he was always busy working.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: And then at some point, he opened his own little, like a newsstand. News shop. So he was doing that. And he was doing pretty industrious, I guess.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker D: Sounds like your dad was an entrepreneur.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker D: So I suppose that because they weren't in that industry, the brass industry didn't affect them as much as other people.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker D: The end of the World War, and the industry is moving out of Waterbury. Why do you think you're okay? So at some point, Waterbury decided it started changinG. Right. So in the read somewhere, things started to decline. Why do you think, were your parents around that time?

Speaker A: Seventy s, eighty s. Yeah.

Speaker D: Why do you think they decided to stay in Waterbury even when things were changing?

Speaker A: Family.

Speaker D: Family.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: We've always been about family.

Speaker C: Got it.

Speaker D: That was more important than anything else, what was going on.

Speaker A: Right.

Speaker D: We got it. What would you say you learned from your parents that you're teaching or you have taught your children or grandchildren? What lessons do you think you learned from your parents that you're passing down or have passed down to your kids and grandkids?

Speaker A: I think probably the importance of family. We're still really close.

Speaker C: Yes.

Speaker A: My daughters and my grandchildren. My brothers are still alive, and they're reaching my age pretty quickly. And, yeah, we're still here. We still have family. We're not going anywhere.

Speaker C: Right. Got it.

Speaker A: They have to take the whole bunch of us and go.

Speaker D: That would be an exodus. All right. So I wanted to switch a little bit now to talk about your conversion story, and the ministry know things that are happening now. When would you say you came to know Jesus?

Speaker A: I think I always knew Jesus because even little, that was another always. It wasn't like my family was big church goers.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: We did go to church.

Speaker C: And I.

Speaker A: Always knew about Jesus because we always said our little bedtime prayers and things like, was like that was about it. So I always knew Jesus and I really believe he always took care of me because I've never in my whole life, no matter what the situation been without. I've had plenty of ups and downs. So, I don't know. I think when I really learned a lot more about Jesus and was when I went to first assembly of God, which is now House of prayer.

Speaker C: What age was that?

Speaker A: Only about 25 years ago.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: So I was pretty on years. I had always gone to Catholic church.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: I went to St. Thomas, which is right up the street.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: And I went to St. Thomas School, which is also right up the street. So that was the kind of community this was all went there. And we had a secular school over here, which is bishop school. So we were surrounded by schools. And so, yeah, when I met Pastor James Lilly, I just felt listening to him speak one day that this is kind of man that I want to learn from because he didn't speak as a preacher, he spoke as a teacher. So I went to that church, and I immediately knew that I wanted to be baptized again because I was baptized in the Catholic Church. You're born, you have no choice. You're just. So a first assembly is really where I began to really study the Bible and get into the know, which strengthened me. And Jesus proved me so many times that he is exactly who he says he is.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker A: So I know I could always count on him. I am firm believer in the power of Jesus Christ to overcome any situation. Every situation. There's no doubt in my mind. Yeah, that's who I am.

Speaker D: What was your family's reaction to your going from Catholic to an evangelical church? Okay, so she was also a member of the church, of the new church.

Speaker A: Okay, that's very interesting.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker D: I've heard some conversion stories that didn't go so well.

Speaker A: Ours was great. A whole bunch of us just.

Speaker D: Yeah, you left. You left the Catholic Church.

Speaker A: As long as my mother was okay with. We all kind of like. We had a whole row of us up there.

Speaker C: Yeah, got it.

Speaker D: What would you say would be an experience that differed from your Catholic faith to now, the evangelical side of things? How did that transition work for you? Did you notice anything that was very different in your experience of Jesus?

Speaker A: Yeah, everything.

Speaker D: Okay.

Speaker A: But you know what? The only reason I stayed in the Catholic Church as long as I did was because my mom, okay, just respect her and honor her. She wanted to be there. But at some point she just said, when the church closed, that's what happened. St. Thomas Church closed, one of the first early ones to close. Now you see how many are closing? And my daughters and I were searching.

Speaker C: For a church to go to.

Speaker A: And like I said, I heard Pastor James, and I said to the girls, let's try this church. And we went, and we're still members. Never let my mom passed away. We had her celebration there.

Speaker D: Okay, very nice.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker D: And how would you say your life changed after your conversion at this church, the new church?

Speaker A: Well, I've always been an activist, but now I realized that my activism did become a ministry, and it just put a different spin on things, but not a whole lot. I mean, it's always ready to be outside doing something. But doer got it. I'm not a sitter. I'm a doer. After being in the church in first assembly for a couple of years, I said to pastor, you know what? I want to be outdoors. I want to be in the inner city. We need to be converting, not converting people, but talking to people about Jesus outdoors, not just inside. He said, what do you want to do? And I said, I don't know. Some kind of an outdoor ministry. He said, we'll do it. That's how my pastor is. Okay. It's not like they'll let me help you. No, it's like, you go do it. I said, well, where do I start? He says, you always start in your own Jerusalem. Start in your home city. I don't want to do it there. It's miserable there. It's strong infested. It's this and that. He's like, no, I think that's where you should go. So I said, okay. So that's how I started. Even before that, when it wasn't a ministry, I was out there marching against drugs, marching against guns. So much fighting for justice in this neighborhood. And I don't mean racial stuff. We were always together. Black, white, anybody who lived here. We worked together today. I don't like all this stuff that's going on. I think it's bringing us back to racism where there isn't any. We were together here. We had an association that was about 100 members.

Speaker C: Wow.

Speaker A: Yeah. It was one of the biggest associations, one of the earliest associations. That's what Crownbrook is all about, and that's where the name came from. Yeah. So it came from there. So I was kind of used to all that stuff. So to do it as a ministry was not a big step for me. Okay. So, again, I find myself in my own neighborhood having spiritual warfare, only on a different level, on a more powerful level, actually, and finding how many people really needed to know Jesus, that needed to be saved from this horrible drug infested city. Not even the city but nation that we live in has gotten worse over the years instead of. So, yeah, I guess that's all I could tell you about that. So the ministry started just with pretty much. I can't even begin to tell you what it was like here.

Speaker D: I would love to hear you say it. I was just going to quote something for you. This is from a Forbes magazine article. This is back in, let's see, 2013, August 1, written by a guy named Jim Powell.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker D: So it says in 1992, Money magazine surveyed 300 US metropolitan areas and considered Waterbury to be the worst. This was written 2013, but this is a 1992 Money magazine article. This number two, he says Waterbury made the places rated almanac list of the ten worst places to live in America. Third, 1 April 2008. Forbes considered Waterbury one of the worst places for businesses and careers in America. And the last one, in 2013, Atlantic magazine analyzed 10 million tweets by place of origin and concluded that Waterbury was one of the saddest American cities.

Speaker A: Wow. I didn't know that.

Speaker D: It's changed a lot since the World War II or end of World War II. And the nice Waterbury that you know, is no longer here. So you said you wanted to tell us how bad it was. How bad was it?

Speaker A: Okay, well, just to tell you, just right around know in this all.

Speaker C: Probably.

Speaker A: Were five abandoned houses on the street, really falling down houses. And right next door to me, Vinny's house is one of them, across the street, the two houses across the street that are all remodeled and young looking nice. Another two and a couple down the, um. And as an activist, that's why I was always fighting and had the kids. We had a lot of kids. I don't see many kids around here anymore. There were a lot of young kids. I'd say that five, seven, eight bracket. And we all made signs. I have so many pictures to show you, Tanisha, when you have a minute. And we would march the streets, no drugs, no guns. We had T shirts that said it. And this went on for years and years and years. And then we started cleaning.

Speaker C: Cleaning.

Speaker A: That was the first thing we did with adopted block. We started just cleaning the street, walking around with garbage bags.

Speaker C: Nice.

Speaker A: And then we had a little Crownbrook center that was given to us. At the beginning of my real estate career, I sold five Hill street, which is a big apartment building down at the end of Phil street, the at Corner.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker D: Not coming to mind right now, but okay. I'm sure it's there.

Speaker A: Yeah. Big white building.

Speaker C: Okay. Yeah.

Speaker A: So anyway, I sold that, and the people that bought it renovated the whole thing, and they asked me if I wanted to have a little office in the building.

Speaker C: Wow.

Speaker A: And because they wanted to keep away the drugs, and they wanted me to get good tenants in the building, and they said, as long as you're in the building, we'll feel more secure about buying this building. I said, yeah, absolutely. So I got to be, like, the caretaker kind of manager.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: A little bit. And so I rented all the apartments, and he gave me the downstairs. There's only one room and a kitchenette, but we had so many birthday parties, all kinds of things. The kids were always included. We started doing some gardening, which has always been my thing, too. My hobby, you might say. And we had farmers in the hood. The kids named it themselves, farmers in the hood. We made them little sweatshirts and T shirts, and they farmed, they planted. They learned so many things during that. So adopted block kind of just carried all that on to bigger gardens and bigger pieces of land. We took pieces of land all over the place. And so people from Crownbrook and people from adopted block kind of combined forces a few times, and then another group came up called Front Porch. We went out and we cleaned people's yards, and we did repairs, minor repairs. I would like to start that up again, but at my age, I don't know If I have the energy to do all that again. I know I have people who I think will want to do that. And it was all volunteer, and we paid for all the paint and the wood and whatever we needed. So many things that we've done in this neighborhood. But it started out as a pretty bad neighborhood. And now, as you see, even though around us may still be tough, it's a darn safe, good neighborhood, and you could walk around again.

Speaker D: Yeah. Was that something that you were very concerned about earlier? And what year would you say things got really bad? The worst. You saw it maybe, like, 1980 in the 98.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker D: Late 90s. Yeah, it was pretty bad.

Speaker C: Got it.

Speaker D: So you mentioned some of the improvements. What are some of you think your biggest, maybe not necessarily yours, but yours and the city's greatest accomplishments in terms of turning things around in Waterbury?

Speaker C: Well.

Speaker A: I think the cities, I can't speak for the city so much.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: Because they've been so busy working for years, working on brow fields and stuff like that, left from those factories that became abandoned at eyesores. And you find them in a lot of the towns in New England. You see the big haystacks? Not haystacks. Do you call them?

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker D: Maybe you do the silos.

Speaker A: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. The chimneys, actually. Okay. Chimneys from the smoke from the factory.

Speaker C: I see. Okay.

Speaker D: So not silos. Those are unbarns. Unfarms.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: Okay. Yeah. You see those all over the place. So when that all died, there was all that left. And the current mayor has really tackled a lot of battles. Previous ones have kind of just kind of ignored them. But it makes the city ugly. Absolutely. Where was I going with that?

Speaker D: We were talking about the greatest accomplishments, but I wanted to.

Speaker A: What was ours as a neighborhood?

Speaker C: Yes.

Speaker A: Okay. I think the cleaning.

Speaker D: Cleaning up.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: Because I remember one time when I cleaned, probably the beginning of. It's so hard to explain all of it, because it was so different, even 1520 years ago.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: All right. There was a big, huge brick block at the end of our street where we now have all the adoptive block events in that little park. That was a big. I think it was a six story brick building.

Speaker C: Wow. Yeah.

Speaker A: Big apartment building. And across the street from there was another one, but it was only maybe three stories high. So it was just depressed.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: The bricks would fall off once in a while. Nobody was living in them, and that was really bad. So we had a fight to get that down. And once we got that down, then we had this bare piece, huge piece of land that still had the foundation on it. Couldn't grow anything. We got the city. So this is. I guess the point where I was going, is the city was very helpful to every administration from Bergen and everybody. When I called, they pitched in. So they were interested in helping six neighborhoods. But Crownbrook also was a neighborhood that helped itself. So we got a lot of favor, and we still get a lot of favor because the mayor knows if I go see him, I go with the solution, not a complaint and a problem that I want him to. So I think because of that attitude, we've had a lot of favor with the city.

Speaker C: Good.

Speaker A: Yeah. So they came in and they put down soil one year. I mean, it took quite a few years to get it to where it is now. And another year they seeded it and we grew grass.

Speaker C: Nice.

Speaker A: We know the foundation is still under there because every time we go to put a sign up, we're hitting rock. It's not easy. That made a lot of difference. The pleading, working with the city, getting them to do the things that we needed to do. They turned the drug way, took down another building on another big. This is a place of big apartment buildings. Because the people work in the factories. They had to have a place to live. So all these multifamily were available.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker D: I've also seen that we're having developers come in from New York to renovate these big buildings.

Speaker A: Some they bought and just raised the rent. So I don't like that much. So we'll have to see how we can handle that.

Speaker C: Right?

Speaker A: No.

Speaker C: Got it. Okay.

Speaker D: So we talked about the things that made you, your family, stAy. It's family. And why do you think you're staying now? So your family, I would imagine some of your family members are not exactly here in this Waterbury area anymore. Am I right? No, I'm wrong. Most of your family is still here.

Speaker C: Okay. All right.

Speaker D: Didn't know that. You know what, *****? I just assumed that they were away. Yes. Very good.

Speaker C: Awesome.

Speaker D: So family is making you stay. And do you sometimes second guess yourself about staying? Thinking maybe 1015 years ago I should have left.

Speaker C: Do you think about that sometimes?

Speaker D: No.

Speaker A: You're steadfast.

Speaker D: Unmovable.

Speaker C: Good.

Speaker A: How would you, if somebody's bored, would you? Yes. Okay. I have a daughter, lives in Watertown.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: She lives in a beautiful home with a lot know, like five acres of land around it and everything. And I know that if I wanted to live with her, I could live with her in a minute. I would be bored. I'm a city person. I need action. I don't know what I would do. I don't know what I would do. I can't do that.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: So I'm here.

Speaker D: This is the place for you. Would you encourage somebody to move to Waterbury?

Speaker A: Absolutely.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: We have a lot of work to do. I am particularly concerned with downtown. Once they did the malls. Everybody went to the malls, all the little stores that were great clothes. And we have a different culture. We have a different culture that's here that require different things. So a lot has changed that way. But again, the city is trying to incorporate everybody into, like, Saturday. There's the gathering, which is amazing. There's people from all over, even our church. We represent 40 different nations. Yeah. So there's people from all over that come to our church. And I love it. Some come with the beautiful costumes on Sunday, and you can come with your jeans or you can come beautifully dressed, whatever you want to do. Kind of open that way, but yeah. So the gathering is something that the city thought would be a great idea, and it is. And every year it's successful. So I pray that this year it's going to be great. And people are going to get Together and get along and taste each other's food, and there'll be no violence.

Speaker D: In past years, it's been very peaceful.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker D: Have we had any issues of violence in the past?

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker A: So far it's been very good so far, yeah.

Speaker D: I'd like to go this time around. I wanted to share a personal story in that vein. After we moved here, we went back to New York to visit, and somebody said to me, I would not live in Waterborough if it was the last place on Earth. What would you say to that person?

Speaker A: I'd say, okay.

Speaker D: Enough said. Yeah, that was actually what somebody told me. I was flabbergasted. But in any case.

Speaker A: Okay, I'm going anyway.

Speaker D: We had already moved, so there was no turning back. It was too late. What gives you hope for Waterberry, *****?

Speaker A: Well, it's important to have people in the administration that are willing to work with the citizens. It's important for them to work in the neighborhoods to continue taking. I would like to see the city take, like, one neighborhood at a time and just get in there, clean it up real good, help to trim the trees and all the shrubs that make everything look messy and dirty and just kind of concentrate. I once had this idea, but nobody liked it.

Speaker D: Let's hear it.

Speaker A: I thought it'd be great to divide the city into quarters.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: North, southeast, west.

Speaker C: Right. Okay.

Speaker A: And just assign cleaning groups or landscape, not landscapers, but people that would mow and keep it clean. And have those machines out cleaning all the streets and have a group assigned to each quarter.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: And they were responsible to keep it clean. And if we had a problem, then we would contact them instead of having to contact City hall all the time for everything. It would take some pressure off of them. Anyway, I thought that was a good idea.

Speaker D: I think so, too.

Speaker A: Okay, well, maybe we have to push that one.

Speaker D: I think so.

Speaker A: I think a new mayor coming up, so we'll have to tack.

Speaker D: He might like that idea. Or she.

Speaker A: Let's see.

Speaker D: As I mentioned in the introduction that you are on the board of Urban Fresh Gardens, the nonprofit that Gregory founded. What made you decide to be a part of that?

Speaker A: Well, I told you, I'm a gardener at heart.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: So just to see more land taken as green space and providing produce for the people in the neighborhood. What's wrong with that? There's nothing to be found wrong with that. Nobody could even speak anything against that. So it's giving to the neighborhood, and I just happen to like Greg and Tanisha and I find them faithful, truthful people that I could trust. So that made a big difference. It wouldn't be just anybody coming in. I would be kind of worried about who would come in and take over. So it's just another place in the neighborhood that I know is solid. We have the gardens down on Burton street, which we happen to have started adopt the block, and now neighborhood housing services usually is more interested in it than has the time and the people to keep the upkeep than we do.

Speaker D: Okay, well, you mentioned, I think I was asking before, what makes you hopeful? What nuggets of hope do you see in the city that makes you think we're turning for the better? Waterbury is going to get better. What are some of those things that you're seeing that makes you say things are changing for the better?

Speaker A: Well, I don't know. It's not a hard question, but it's like sometimes I see things and for the better, like maybe a business moves in and then I'm disappointed sometimes when they can't make it and they move out. Yeah, but we do have in this administration people working on that all the time. They work hard to bring business into the city and I have faith in them that they're going to get it done.

Speaker C: Okay. Right.

Speaker D: What do you think has been. We're almost done, but what do you think has been your greatest challenge as an urban missionary, somebody working in this city? What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome those? If you have.

Speaker A: It's overcoming. Those things are eternal. It's never going to be overcome as long as there's people out there. It's a give and take all the time. And I just pray that people would be more willing to come out and volunteer their time, whether as a Christian talking about Jesus or just volunteering their time just to keep the neighborhood clean. I would love to see each homeowner or tenant come out and clean in front of their house and communicate with their landlords. Look at the grass is 2ft high. You need to come because you can get a ticket for that. People don't even know that there are rules and regulations and some don't care, of course.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker A: So we're always going to have people like. So that's a hard to overcome thing.

Speaker D: Yeah, it's a big challenge. Something you think we're going to be having to overcome for a while or maybe never. What would be your encouragement to other urban missionaries serving in cities, trying to tell others about Jesus and trying to be good neighbors as people of example, how would you encourage them to keep going.

Speaker A: Well, before COVID I hate that word. But before COVID my mission was to go out and knock on doors. So it wasn't just around here. It was further up and further down and all around. So we would just go out every Saturday and just not every Saturday, but, you know, every few Saturdays, and we just go knocking on doors. Hi, I'm so and so, you know, I just want to tell you that we're doing this Saturday, or do you know Jesus? Would you like some literature or. It wasn't anything pushy. So I got to tell you a story. One morning, we're knocking on this guy's door. Obviously, I didn't know it was a guy because we had never been to this house before. It was an apartment building knocking his door. And this guy opens the door, and he looks at us like a total shock. Now there's four or five of us standing outside. I'm on his stoop in the way he looked at me, which is so funny. I said, what? Didn't you expect to see five beautiful women outside your door? And he just broke up. Well, he became. We got to know him a little bit over the weeks, but he thought that was the funniest thing. But you never know. But after COVID, it wasn't comfortable anymore. First of all, we didn't want to go out with a mask and have people without a mask answer their door. That wasn't good. That wasn't right. So we stopped doing that. And then we never really got back to doing it because then the violence was so crazy, we didn't know who would answer the door. Whether they have a knife or a gun in their hand, ready for an enemy to attack them or something, it was just us cute little women standing there. When you get older, you get cute anyway. Yeah. So that changed everything again. So then we just went back to being down at the park, setting up our table, and having literature there. And we always say, prayer is here if you need prayer for anything. And the last time we were out, I think Greg came along and I don't know if he must have seen the guy that is having trouble walking after prayer. He was dancing.

Speaker C: Oh, wow.

Speaker A: And dancing and praising God and singing. It was the funniest thing. It was beautiful. But so many people don't know where to go or don't even think about it or maybe think about it, but still put it aside. But when you're walking down the street and you see people having fun and praising God with a sign saying, yeah, we're here for you. If you need prayer, they come. And I know there's a lot of organizations that do stuff and always do it. It always includes food.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: And I was thinking about that. We started up this year, but then I felt God say, no, I don't want you to do that. I don't want you to have a big to do and serve food to people every time you go out and everything. He said, you need to just be there. People will find you. I'll send who I need to send. So I said, well, hey, it was like kind of hesitating. So the only food that we provide ever, and that's only when we have it, is food that's fresh from the inner city, from our own gardens in the neighborhood. Other than that, we don't take food from anywhere else. And I have a friend who likes to bake, so she bakes homemade cookies.

Speaker D: Very nice.

Speaker A: And we'll probably give those out on a Saturday when we're out. And that's about it.

Speaker D: I guess you would encourage the urban missionaries to not always bring food to attract people, right? Is that one of the things?

Speaker A: Okay, they just come for the food. I mean, I know once they come for the food that you're going to be able to talk to them and get their attention.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker A: But I don't know. I don't think that's the big point. They have to have a heart for Jesus and retain that which we give them Bibles once they receive Jesus, which is a privilege, it really know. And the promises that are given to you when you receive Jesus is amazing. So why be foolish and know, how's your life going now without him? I think most people could say, oh.

Speaker D: It'S not that great if they're honest.

Speaker A: We see people walking by that look so sad. And sometimes when we just say, hi, how are you? How are you doing today? Not so good. Well, come on over. Come on over. Have a glass of lemonade on us. Have some cookies. You'll enjoy them and sit and talk to us. So we bring here extra chairs. You'd be surprised. Sometimes we start out with just few people, and sometimes we end up with a whole bunch.

Speaker C: Very nice.

Speaker A: And so we need chairs for them to sit on and just have a conversation. One person says to me, I don't have any friends. That's what you do now.

Speaker D: Just made one.

Speaker A: Yeah.

Speaker D: So hospitality is important, having conversation with them.

Speaker A: Yes, is important. I think the most important thing is that we ended up doing is two things, Dr. Block. Building a community, having the events so that people could come in the community, come together. This is not for people all over the place.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker A: Okay, they can come, but it's for the neighbors because people don't talk to each other anymore. They don't even know who their neighbor is. I have so many friends that live in affluent places. Not that they're affluent, but they just happen to have, maybe their house has been there. They've been there for years and people have moved in, but they don't know anybody. They say, I know my neighbor. I've been there 20 years. Well, come to my neighborhood. We all know each other. Yeah. And we hand out. That's a day where you hang out together.

Speaker C: Funny.

Speaker D: What do you want your, in the next 50 years, what would you like to be remembered for? Next 50 years, what would you like to be remembered for?

Speaker A: Be a happy person.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker D: Being a happy person.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker D: Anything else? What about your impact in the community?

Speaker A: I'd like people to think of me as just being somebody that I could always talk to. Yes. Somebody was always upbeat that you are and always willing to make me the challenge for sure.

Speaker D: Okay, I'm going to read a verse and I want you to tell me what it means to you. This is Galatian. Oh, no, just tell me what it means to you.

Speaker A: Yeah.

Speaker D: Galatians 220 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh. I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. What does that mean to you? It's not a Bible quiz, just a personal reflection.

Speaker A: Well, I think as I get older, I realize how important that is. Yeah. I don't live for myself. I think about I am a happy person, always been a happy person, even as a kid.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker A: And I watched somebody who knows me as a kid said, oh, I remember her. I don't think so. Yeah, I'm content is the word I'm looking for. I'm content with my life.

Speaker C: Okay.

Speaker A: I don't live in a beautiful place and I don't live in a gorgeous neighborhood and I don't have everything that I want, but I have everything I need. And yes, Christ lives in me. That's more important to me than anything else. Than anything else. And I realize that more and more as I get older, probably most of us will find that as we get older, nothing's important anymore.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker A: It's not. It's all secondary, if even that. But my goal is reach my father who's waiting for me. And I'm quite excited about it, actually.

Speaker C: Very good.

Speaker A: I am looking forward to it.

Speaker D: So am I.

Speaker A: So I'm just here because he wants me here. And there must be a reason he wants me here. Although some days I'm like, why? What am I going to do now? But whatever he wants me to do, I have to be ready to do it. Meantime, you just live your ordinary days.

Speaker C: Right? Very good.

Speaker D: I've had this question in my mind a lot, especially because of where we live now, here in Waterbury. And where I'm moving from. The part in the Bronx where we were was definitely not affluent. But where do you think if Jesus were to come back now, say he was coming back for the first time? For the first time?

Speaker A: Okay, that's a fun question.

Speaker D: Pretend he didn't come already. He's coming back now for the first time. Which neighborhood do you think he would live in?

Speaker A: Probably mine.

Speaker D: Why?

Speaker A: Because of all the action.

Speaker D: Yeah, all the action.

Speaker A: A lot of action. He wasn't about to live out in the woods. Pretty place, right? He lived in Capernaum. I mean, he chose Capernaum to do his ministry. That was his base. And from there, he shot off everywhere. Waterbury is center in this neighborhood is the center of Waterbury. And you could shoot out from anywhere from here and be anywhere in 1015 minutes.

Speaker C: Right.

Speaker A: We're southeast, west, so yeah, I think he would probably be here.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker D: I was reading something online about the neighborhood Jesus grew up in. And the fact that Nathaniel, when he heard where Jesus was from, he's like, can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Speaker A: And you heard that about.

Speaker C: That's right.

Speaker D: It made me very hopeful. I don't know why I'm getting chills now thinking about it, but I feel as though Waterbury and other places like our neighborhood have a very special place in Jesus's heart. And I think as Christians, we have to be careful about how we talk about the places that are not so great, because then we are people of promise. We're people of hope. And wherever we go, we should always be hopeful.

Speaker A: That's right.

Speaker D: About our neighborhoods or every other neighborhood that's not so nice. Thank you so much, *****. I really enjoyed our talk and we're looking forward to many more years of good, hard ministry in Waterbury.

Speaker B: Hi, did you enjoy this episode?

Speaker A: I hope you did.

Speaker B: If you would like to learn more about us, please contact Contact that's

Speaker D: We can't wait to connect with.

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