Friday, November 6, 2009

Double-Up on Acacia Park Week

Wednesday was the last meeting of our Team Player class at church, and we had an outreach planned. Pizza and water at 6pm...and hope people come. We had about a dozen pizzas, and there were about 5 people at the park.

Plan B: A few guys in our group took a couple pizzas and went walking down the street, hoping to find someone to give the food to. Once they got back, we got directions from a guy named Aaron to a camp with a few people. So, our group caravaned there (after a few u-turns of the blind leading the blind) and indeed we did find a few people...3 to be exact.

Oh well, we left the remaining 6 or 7 pizzas with a guy who called him self "Tools" and his family. Hope they like leftovers.

But it was fine; it was a bit of an adventure, and neat to get out of my Acacia Park "comfort zone" and find others that need food/help too. It was also fun getting to share the whole experience with a larger group of people and talk to them about what it's been like for me.

Then tonight, despite past evidence, I had a silly urge to doubt and think I'm gonna end up wasting time/food. I got a couple dozen 6-inch subs from Subway (November special has them at $2 each) and showed up promptly at 5:30...with not a soul in sight. *sigh*...ok, maybe I drive around to where I know some camps are and try to distribute that way. But wait...what's this? Oh, a group of 20 people walking over from the other side of the park. DUH!

So I got to meet a few new people, and even a couple small children whose mother was happy to have something to feed them. And the married couple Marshall and Kallie making plans on how to get back to their tent. Drea is frustrated from having to find a different place to sleep every night. Will is very quiet and seems sad. Anthony hurt his knee. Aaron looked happy to see me again. Etc...

Always an adventure. Always a blessing. (For them and me) I love Friday nights!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Acacia Park Update

Whoops! No update for over 2 bad.

So I'll give the skinny on what's been happening with the homeless ministry, and then maybe do a separate update about other stuff in my life.

So two weeks ago, the most memorable thing I took away from that visit was Dave.

I had gotten some Taco Bell, and brought Famous Dave leftovers from my previous workplace. When most of the food was gone, this guy who had been staying a little ways off moved in as the crowd cleared. Right away I could tell something was "off" with him. He was up on the stage, and just came by the food and sat down. His eyes were red and not pointing in the same direction, he had food (or something else?) on his face and in his beard, he had scabs and scratches all over, and his nails were over an inch long and black with dirt.

I used to have the inclination to avoid this kind of person. But as he sat there and started to look over what food was left, I noticed how even the other homeless folks moved away and gave sideways glances to him. I don't fully understand how or why, but God moved me to compassion, and I suddenly felt very interested and drew close to him. Now I know that I had to take anything he would say with a grain of salt. He might be confused, he might lie....but my approach is always one of understanding and wanting to be an ally and friend.

He told me his name was Dave, and he said he just knew he would hurt somebody tonight. !!! "Why do you say that?" I asked him. He looked around and said "Look at these f***ers...see how they act? They think they're all hard...they don't know hard. They're just acting.....whatever...." That is a distilled version of what he actually said. He was hard to understand sometimes, paused a lot and repeated what he said, and swore a lot. Over the course of the next 20 minutes or so, I learned that he had left Nashville a couple weeks ago where his girl is. I didn't get the full history, but a couple times he said "I love that whore....I don't know why, she's a b***h....I just love her." Ok. He said his parents were killed when he was 16 and he's been on the streets for the last 10 years. At certain points while talking I could tell he was tearing up even though his eyes were already pretty red.

The hardest part was watching him pick through food scraps. I had gotten chicken and a couple different salads, and had a bunch of apples. I tried offering the food to him, even to plate it up for him, and he would just shake his head and mumble, and fish around through the bones and crumbs. As I was getting ready to leave I asked if there was anything I could do for him, and he said not unless I could take him to Dallas, Texas.

So for all of that, I don't know how much, if any, good I did. The only thing I feel might have been of value was sitting next to him for 20 minutes, locking eyes with him, and talking/listening to him. I figured that was more than he got most of the time from most people and might help him feel human again. Even though he said that nobody has loved him since his parents died, I tried to tell him several times that I know God loves him. "I hope so....I doubt it, but I hope so...." he said. I leaned in and said "Trust me, I know for a fact that God DOES love you."