I fell in love with this town. Everywhere we turned, there was something new that seemed to connect with some aspect of our lives.
Art, architecture, books, history, westerns - everything just seemed to fit.
One of my favorites was this sculpture by artist Vic Payne that shares the story of the oil company these two friends formed over the hood of a Ford truck. So lifelike - I felt I could hear their conversation as I studied them.
Then we found the Vaquero:
On our drive to the library, we discovered this massive sculpture in the middle of the street. I was awed by sculpture as a whole, but when I got out and looked at it up close, I burst into tears - literally.
The fact that the town honors books and encourages reading this way touched me deeply, but then to find that each of the books was actually a book I've read - well, that's when the waterworks started.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.
If you haven't read it, you must.
Thank you, Artesia, for honoring writers and encouraging readers in such a beautiful way!
We continued roaming around town, and discovered another statue on a corner that created more waterworks for me.
If you've been following our LeapFrogs journey, you know that we're both huge Lonesome Dove fans and we visited the Lonesome Dove collection in San Marcos (you can read about our visit here). This statue in Artesia continued our Lonesome Dove experiences!
We car camped while we were in Artesia and while we were there, a ministry idea developed.
While we've been on the road, one of the most challenging aspects has been finding clean, safe, affordable showers to bathe. We've found several - thankfully - but not nearly as often as I had hoped to find since we're mostly using free camping sites or car camping. Some towns, but not many, have awesome options like YMCA, Kroc Centers, Salvation Army Community Centers, or even regular community centers, where we've found clean and safe showers at affordable rates. Truck stops also offer showers, but paying $12 per person is just not in our budget.
One night as I was going to sleep, my mind flashed back to all the homeless people we've encountered on our journey, and the homeless I've known back home. As I thought about them, I realized that they all had one specific need in common - all needed access to a shower, and very few had it. So then I started thinking of ways to meet that need, and I thought of Jesus washing the disciples' feet (John 13) and realized that the Church could do the same thing - provide clean, safe showers for anyone who needed them.
I'm still formulating the idea and working on a budget for making this an affordable ministry for churches, but soon, I hope to offer more substantial plans for what we are currently calling the LeapFrogs Safe Showers.
(What? You don't create a logo for every idea? Ha!)
I'm not sure yet how feasible my original idea is, so we're exploring other options, but my first thoughts are:
Churches could build a small shower house in a corner of their property that would be monitored and attended by volunteers from the church. The shower house would have two to four rooms in it (depending on budget and size of space). Each room would be a safe bathroom space with a locked door, full walls floor to ceiling, a sink with wide counter space, a large shower (perhaps one or two that are handicap accessible for wheelchairs), and a toilet. Churches could ask for soap, shampoo, towels, washcloths, paper goods, and toiletry donations from members and businesses in the town. The showers would be available on set days and hours, and an attendant would provide access and security.
Like I said earlier, I don't have all the plans spelled out, but that's the general idea.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. I've examined, heard - and understand - all the negative aspects. I'd like to hear your positive thoughts - can-do attitudes! :-)
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