Friday, January 8, 2010

Acacia Park - 2010

Since it was my first visit in the new year, I felt it a good time to catch ya'll up on where I'm at with the Homeless ministry. (Sorry if this ends up long.)

I had hoped to be able to do something over the holidays, but between my parents staying with us and being a bit discouraged by a few Friday Failures (where I took food, but couldn't find anyone to give it to), I ended up not going on Christmas or New Year's days. I think part of me (perhaps slightly pridefully) wanted to say I had a perfect track record since I hadn't missed a day since I started in August, but now that the "streak" is broken, I can let that go. of the other thoughts that was born out of taking food and not finding anyone, was the logistical quagmire I've been creating for myself of how much food to get, and how many different locations will I drive to in order to find someone to get it too, etc.

Then one day I went to Subway for lunch, and as I drove back to work there was a homeless guy sitting on the corner with a sign (that I couldn't read). That's when it hit me: gift cards! I found myself wishing I had a Subway gift card so I could roll down the window and hand it to him.

So, the next time I was at Subway, I bought several cards, and Wendy got some at the store too. Subway is kind of handy, because there's one right across the street from Acacia Park. But I'm thinking that other food/supply-type places might be good too. I still want to take down actual food, but will probably wait until warmer weather when it's more likely to find folks.

But as for tonight...there were a couple guys that I'm used to seeing, and have been developing relationship with. Anthony and Twisstidm (Ya, for the longest time, I assumed it was spelled "Twisted M", but whatever...)

It was kinda cool just standing there, hanging out and talking. They told me what went on over Christmas. Anthony and his friend moved to a different campsite. Twisstidm is hoping to perform soon at the Black Sheep on Platte. It's starting to feel like they aren't strangers that I'm helping out, but friends.

Funny story interjection: As we're standing there, some guy walks up and looks at Anthony, then Twisstidm, then me, and decides to ask ME: "You got any weed, man?" Without missing a beat, I pulled a Subway gift card out of my pocket. "No, but I can give you a sandwich." "Does it got any weed any it..heh heh..." "Well, you can ask them to put lettuce on it." And so on... I was a little naive at first, but I think I've witnessed a pretty fair number of drug deals go down. I'll never forget a couple months ago, when a guy walked up and asked for a dime. I start feeling in my pockets for change before it hits me...DOH!

Anyways, one of the more significant things I took away from tonight, was that I got Twisstidm's phone number (you might be surprised how many homeless people have cell phones). And no less than three different times, he asked that I "check up on him" this week. It seems important to him, so I want to make sure and follow through on that.

Last thing: When I left the 4-5 guys I was talking with, I had 2 gift cards left. As I started to drive away, I noticed an older homeless guy walking the opposite way. But for those of you who know downtown (especially on a busy Friday night), it isn't the quickest/easiest thing in the world to try and "turn around" with the one ways, etc. I really wanted to give him a Subway card, but I must have spent 15-20 minutes in a figure-eight pattern, expanding my search as I tracked where it looked like he was headed.

At one point, I saw another guy crossing the street and was able to give him a card, but I never could find the first man, and that vexed me a bit.

The spiritual application for me was two-fold:
1. I wanted to help the guy, but it was difficult and I failed. - Thank goodness God always knows where we are, what we need, and is able to give it to us every time!
2. Maybe a sense of the frustration and sadness I felt is similar to how God feels, in that he wants to help us, but WE make it difficult by trying to hide or do it on our own or rebel, etc.

At any rate, I somehow feel encouraged, and look forward to continuing this calling in 2010. I even found a group on Facebook called "Colorado Springs Tent Community Help" that looks like a good resource too.

It's really late and I'm really tired, so that's all.