Monday, July 22, 2013
A Day of Thanks And Adventure!
Today was a great day of thanks....thanks and joy just seemed to hang in the air today which is amazing because it was in the high 90's and low 100,s. We were all so hot, but it just seemed that the people on North First were very happy today and thankful. The people waiting in line were joking and laughing with each other...Keith said, "On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the happiest.... today was a 9 1/2 with everyone.
When I first got down there today, one of the regular prostitutes came up to me. I thought she needed something, but she just wanted to tell me how much she appreciated what we do. Later I learned that one of the homeless ladies got a card and passed it around to a lot of the regulars there at the mission to thank us for being there. It was so touching! The card was a Christmas card which was so great because that was probably all that they could find. (Christmas in July) Her words really hit home. So many people throughout the day thanked us. The great thing is...Jesus loved everybody so we love not judge...It's about Jesus....Jesus walked amongst the people.... where they lived....and He loved. He is teaching us to do the same. This is often quite an adventure!
Keith spoke with a lady today who told him that she and her family live in the Sunshine Motel 2 weeks out of the month because that's all they have money for. It costs $200.00 a week to stay there and they can't afford 800.00 a month because then they wouldn't have enough to live on. $800.00 dollars a month was my house payment at one point in my life. She would have to pay that much for a one room hotel room for 4 weeks. Hmmm.... The other 2 weeks she and her family try to spend a few nights with her sister and then find somewhere free where they can park their motor home.
We saw a guy on Sunday who we haven't seen for quite a few months. I was worried about him and just wondered if he was still alive or doing o.k.?? This guy actually has a lot of hurdles in his life. He struggles with a severe drug addiction, he is a male prostitute, and most of the time he dresses like a girl and calls himself a girl's name. Despite this young man's obvious mental health issues and drug problems, he was so thankful and grateful for everything. He always tells Kaecey who is 17 years old (volunteer) and has known this young man from the beginning--- he says, "Don't do drugs. Don't let anyone ever hurt you.. please don't do what I have done." He tells her this every time he sees her and numerous times in the conversation. Once you get past the visual shock....or the pre-conceived ideas...you find a caring individual who needs Jesus as much as any of us. People like him are why we keep going.
Well it sounds like the afternoon was filled with a lot of thankfulness and kind hearts. I didn't know about the card or all of the thankfulness until the end when we were standing around talking because I found myself in the middle of drama...When we first got down to the lot, we started setting up the food and clothes. It is usually a little chaotic and rushed because we know that the people have been waiting in the hot sun for a while and we don't want to make them wait longer than necessary. I noticed a man and his dog sitting back a ways from our tables by himself. As I was setting up the donut frosting station (lol- now that sounds real normal right? :0) he yelled over to me that his dog needed food because he was going to die. I walked over to him to find out what he wanted. I grabbed a tray for him and got him some food because I didn't want him to get more agitated. When I brought him his food, he was agitated and a bit hostile. Possibly against better judgement, I engaged in a conversation with him. The more we talked the more he settled down. Eventually I sat down on the cement and listened to his story. He told me how he had had a very bad week- someone in the family had passed away so he was on a drunken binge for the week. He also told me that he was a bi-polar artist that didn't want to take his medication because he didn't like how he felt on it. He didn't want to try other medications because it was too long of a process so instead he just drinks. He also admitted that he was in a manic state at the moment.
I know, I know... how many signs do I need to get the heck out of there.... but we were having a great conversation about Jesus and how Jesus reached out to people in love. He didn't like church but he professed his love for Jesus. He calmed down considerably and shared a lot about his life. He even offered to give his backpack to a man who came up to us and asked if I could find him one for next week. He had a bag and a backpack and was going to give up his backpack, but the man declined. (A giving heart hidden under dysfunction.) The conversation was going along just fine until someone asked him if he could not sit in that location next time because the mission wanted everyone to be on the other side of the parking lot. Well needless to say, the man I was talking to "snapped" "crackled" and "popped!" Yep... he kind of lost it. He felt called out and embarrassed in front of the other homeless people so he had to stand up to the guy in his eyes so that he wouldn't lose respect. A big argument continued on and within minutes two police cars showed up. Wow....I didn't see that one coming. I really didn't want to see the guy thrown in jail though because I know he was in such an agitated state and needed to go calm down. The guy who asked him to not sit there did not do anything wrong.... he was just doing his job, but once the other guy snapped, he reverted back to a "street mentality". He was cussing and screaming back at the man.... After it was all said and done... the manic depressive man headed home with his dog. He gave me a hug and thanked me for talking to him, then off he went. The man who worked at the mission thought I would throw him under the bus and lie to the police about starting a fight. The funny thing was... he didn't know that I was Keith's wife.. he thought I was some homeless person who would lie to the cops and get him in trouble. After we cleared up who I was... I told him that I would never throw him under the bus. I think that his default reaction was to not trust anyone because that is what he has experienced. It was nice that he could see that we walk the talk and don't just speak the words of Jesus but act with respect for truth also. It is never a dull moment....but every conversation and every individual is always worth the time. I know that conversation about Jesus is never for not...it is always worth the effort.
In the past, we have ministered to a lady who was probably in her early 40's or late 30's. We have given her clothes and shoes numerous times throughout the last year. She was very mentally ill and addicted. Over the last 6 months, she has stayed mostly on the outskirts of the lot... pushing a grocery cart and always wearing layers and layers of clothes. A friend of hers had to call the paramedics and by the time she got to the hospital... she had died. This makes me so sad. A couple weeks ago I was taking our oldest son back to Seattle when I passed her as I was getting on the on ramp. The lady was standing out in the grass next to her grocery cart with the sprinklers on. I think that she had been sleeping out in the grass and was woken up by the sprinklers. I felt so sad for her thinking what a horrible way to live. I pray that she is with God and that she as peace. I don't know where she was at with the Lord but I know that she always listened....and that she was seriously mentally ill. I believe that because the Lord is pure love...that he must have a special way of dealing with mentally ill people. God is a fair and just God. God has given each of us a choice as to whether we want to call Him Our God or not..... He never forces us... but gives us the choice. This woman was extremely mentally ill and not in a normal state of mind....When I get to heaven I want to ask God about this... What I do know is that God is always fair, just, and loving!! Thank You Jesus!!!
I loved the thankful stories and I grieve the sad ones. My heart continues to break for the broken...each individual is responsible for change in their own life, but my heart breaks for the broken person underneath all of the dysfunction. I want to be more like Jesus.... I want to walk amongst the people and give them words of hope and encouragement found in Jesus Christ. Thank You Jesus for the opportunity to serve!!! I love You with all of my heart! In Jesus Holy Name.... Amen! :0)