My heart cries so deeply for bumps and mountains....bumps and mountains...you see what are small bumps for some are huge mountains for others. My heart breaks for some of the mountains that I have heard on North First Street... Let me explain....
For me to go on a 3 month long excursion to Australia is a mountain! For one.. I can't afford the flight....I couldn't afford the money that it would take to stay that long, nor the food that I would have to buy, nor the clothes that I would need, nor the money for fun excursions, not to mention a month away from my home, my family, and my responsibilities here, but for others.... that would be just a little bump... it would just require a few phone calls, reservations, shifting of schedules, and it would be no big problem at all...
This is the way it is with so many people in poverty. The things that are mountains for them to get over, are often just small bumps for us. I met a man last week who served the U.S. Military in a manor that required him to see way more than any one should. He explained to me that it is much better for him to live away from other people because he doesn't trust himself...he is afraid that he might hurt someone so he lives on the fringes... on the fringes of society. As he explained to Keith.. "I live down the path... over by the fence.... where you see the pile of blankets. :0( This is a place where he can get to town for what he needs without his past memories clashing with the people who are in his present. But this is not the mountain for him... No the mountain for him is getting over to the medical supply store to explain how his colostomy supplies were stolen as well as all of his other possessions. My friend showed me his colostomy bag under his shirt as he sat on the curb next to his cane. Getting around is hard.... getting to the medical supply store with his bad leg is hard.... explaining that his much needed medical supplies were stolen and even though they are only issued once a month... what are his choices??? He has to ask... it isn't like a baggy would do....For me to get from one side of town to the other is not a mountain... it is a bump....it is a problem that is easily solved... no big deal. But for others...given his circumstances...it is a mountain.
Another friend down on North First is working full time and taking classes at YVCC while living at the Mission. His mountain happens to come in the form of fractions. See for whatever reason whether it be his parents moving around when he was growing up, or he was learning English as a 2nd language through the years that he was exposed.. therefore making "gaps" in his learning... fractions are a mountain. He is a smart man with a will to learn, but he just needs the "gaps" filled in like.... how to make mixed numbers into irregular fractions, how to divide using decimals, or how to multiply fractions. To some this is only a little bump... but to someone without resources.... people to ask....someone to be available to ask those simple questions and fill in the "gaps", it can appear to be a mountain! He was so grateful for the short time that I spent answering questions and was so grateful that he can bring his workbook next week.... maybe the mountain will become more like a bump. (And yes... there are numerous resources at YVCC to help people with tutoring and help... but that is Middle Class thinking... We know that because we have friends or relatives who have attended college and understand "the system", it is second nature to us. But for people who do not even know anyone personally who has gone to college... or has ever grown up learning how to access those types of resources... it is a confusing and intimidating place.)
One of my friends that lives by the river knows that she needs to be on the "correct medication." She understands that she has mental illness issues and that she is currently using illegal drugs to help self-medicate. Her mountain is "how to jump back into society....the steps needed to get back on her feet and get the proper help that she needs." For some people a simple dr. appointment is only a small bump... but for others... it is a massive mountain! ( And a scary one at that!) She set up an appointment for a psych. eval. and I took the day off of work to go to her appointment with her. I met her at the designation.... only to find out that it was actually scheduled two days later. But in order for her to let me know that.... she had to ride a half broken bike part way across town which she did. It was not all a loss because we had a great "God Appointment" talking for 3 hours which was awesome. I couldn't go with her two days later which again for some would have not been a big problem, but for her.... it was a mountain! There was so much anxiety and fear for her that she skipped the appointment and felt even more like a loser. A dr. appointment for one person.... may be a step into a life changing appointment for another... which is a very scary step. I will go with her to her next appointment but the dr. only comes here once a month for these types of evaluations... so for now she needs to hold tight. My bump.... is her mountain. Sometimes we have opportunities to help someone make their mountain a little bit smaller.
One of our long time regulars was held up last night with knife at his throat....now this guy has been living out by the river for quite some time and there isn't much that looks like it would bother him too much. He is the kind of guy who seems to be quite at home living off of the land- mostly fishing....dealing with the inconveniences of "permanent roughing it in the wild". He is the first to tell you that he was a special needs student in school. But today.... he was really shaken up. They took what little he had so today things like.... a pair of socks, a pair of pants, a little extra food, a fishing pole.... were mountains to him. Possible small bumps to others.... but for him today... they were mountains. I was so glad that we were there today to help make his mountains a little smaller.
A lady that lives close by comes to get some food and clothes for her kids. Getting from morning til night during the summer months is a bump for many families (How am I going to keep my kids occupied all summer? There are so many more dishes to wash... clothes to change... everyone is hungry all the time.) But for this lady, each day is a mountain. She takes care of her 3 kids, her friend's 3 kids (because her friend is working), some of the neighbor kids who come over because they run out of food.... and she wonders how she is going to feed them, keep the lights on... stretch what little she has. Her husband works at Burger King and she does the best she can to try and help the people around her. She is doing the best she can with what she has....I have never seen her drunk or drugged up... just poor...tired... and always mountain climbing. Her son was munching on an apple from lunch and he asked if he could have more apples- You would not believe how happy he was when I gave him a whole box of apples. That little 7 year old looked like I had given him the moon!!! What was just a little bit of a bump (going out of my way to re-box them and haul them to their car) was helping to over come a mountain to him. I am praying for groceries to take her.... she is working so hard- doing the right things.
There are people with needs of bikes- to get to their jobs..... needs of people for boots or gloves to protect their hands and feet while they work.... needs of some food to get them through the last 6 days of the month until pay day.... the need for a Savior.... to tear down all of the mountains in their lives!!! Every Sunday gives us the incredible opportunity to show the love of the Master Mountain Remover!!! When we share the love of Jesus over time... with no other motive except to love on them.....we are not asking anything of them.... the mountains that surround their hearts start to melt and turn into smaller and smaller bumps.... so that through time... the desire of their hearts which is to be loved and accepted is revealed. God is melting mountains every week..... and every day each of us have opportunities that arise where we can be Jesus with skin on and help make some one's mountain a little smaller. All anybody really wants is to be loved and accepted...I believe that that is at the heart of every person in the world.... rich or poor.... addicted or not....Jesus, I give you all of my mountains as well as my bumps and I thank you for helping me continue to push through!!! I love you and am honored to serve You with my life. In Jesus Holy Name... Amen!! :0)