First Trip to the Mission

As we passed out of the dark tunnel onto East Lancaster Street, we witnessed a curious one-way migration, a streaming of people, like tributaries all flowing east into a single, larger river of souls. On our left, a string of shabby men staggered from the Johnson grass that covered a lot. To the right, a parade of women and children in dirty, mismatched clothes shambled along, dragging green garbage bags. One boy, about eight, wore only a man's undershirt and black socks.

"They're going to the mission!" Deborah said, beaming, as if the entire ragtag bunch was long-lost TCU alumni and she just couldn't wait to catch up. I managed some sort of agreeing noise and a thin smile. To me, they looked as if they'd somehow found a portal from the Middle Ages and squeaked through just in time to escape the plague.

When we reached the mission, I bumped our truck over the driveway dip where a brown-trousered fat man dangled a cigarette from his lips and stood guard at a rusted chain-link gate. I offered my friendliest east Texas grin. "We're here to volunteer," I told him.

He flashed back a toothless smile, and I swear his cigarette never moved, just clung to his bottom lip as though he'd tacked it there with a stapler.

I had pulled into the parking lot wondering how quickly I'd be able to pull out again, but Deborah suddenly spoke in a tone that you learn to recognize when you've loved someone for years, a tone that says, "Hear me on this."

"Ron, before we go in, I want to tell you something." She leaned back against her headrest, closed her eyes. "I picture this place differently than it is now. White flowerboxes lining the streets, trees and yellow flowers. Lots of yellow flowers like the pastures at Rocky Top in June."

Deborah opened her eyes and turned to me with an expectant smile: "Can't you just see that? No vagrants, no trash in the gutters, just a beautiful place where these people can know God loves them as much as He loves the people on the other side of that tunnel."

I smiled, kissed my fingertips, and laid them against her cheek. "Yes, I can see that." And I could. I just didn't mention that I thought she was getting a little ahead of herself.

She hesitated, then spoke again. "I had a dream about it."

"About this place?"

"Yes," she said, gazing at me intently. "I saw this place changed. It was beautiful, like I was saying, with the flowers and everything. It was crystal clear, like I was standing right here and it was the future already."

Learn more about the book on which the movie is based at

Taken from Same Kind of Different As Me Movie Edition by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Copyright © 2017, 2006 by Ron Hall. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.