Operation Soup and Smokes Visit

We visited Finley Park again last Friday for Operation Soup and Smokes.

My brain felt like it was going into overload, trying to remember all the details when I left.

I had a few things going into the afternoon there that I wanted to remember:  touch bases with two different couples, “C”, a particular quiet individual, and look to learn some new names.

There is a couple that dresses in Harley gear, which we see quite often, and I wanted to make sure I got their names and could remember them.  They usually get their food and then go off by themselves.  So, I wanted to make sure I spoke with them.  (“S” and “T” for future use as of now.)

Then there was one of the guys who helps and is usually pretty quiet, and I wanted to catch his name.   He reminds me in build of Bryan, and sometimes has the same sad look on his face.

There is another couple, which has been a fixture from the beginning, however, had been missing for a while.  We had went looking for them when Bryan died, because she had been quite upset when we gave Bryan a ride, and wanted to make sure he was going somewhere safe.  After we read about Bryan’s passing in the paper, Craig went to the park, but couldn’t find them.  We found out later that she was in the hospital, and had to have surgery.

For the last two weeks, she was telling me about her surgery (partial hysterectomy), and how the breathing tube they used had damaged her throat and then the medications they gave her had given her an allergic reaction and burned her throat.  She has been unable to eat any solid foods for weeks.   She has been just sipping the broth from any soups that we take.  Friday, I took a big coffee mug filled with chicken broth, as I wasn’t sure what she would be able to have out of what was available.  She said she has been drinking bouillon, some baby food, and that her mother visited her and gave her some Ensure’s.  She has lost over 40 lbs in a month.   Even with the multiple layers of clothing, it has been evident to us that she is losing weight rapidly.

She came back to talk to me two or three times on Friday.  I told her that we were praying for her, and that more would pray for her.  I told her about this page, and I asked if I could use her name, so you could pray for her by name if you’d like.  Her name is Dawn.

When she was finished with her broth, she brought back the coffee mug to me, and talked to me a little more about her mother visiting her.  She hadn’t wanted to worry her mother.  She also wants to be able to see her children.  We talked about other things that she might be able to eat like baby food and what might have the right vitamins.  She mentioned that she has been unable to take her seizure medicine as the pill is too large and she cannot get the liquid form.  (It is these little side comments that tell us more and more).

Seizure medicine.  Sigh.

I just felt such a burden for her inside, recovering from surgery, living with seizures, not being able to eat, living on the streets.  The list seemed endless.  Dawn is a petite woman, and I just felt compelled to keep hugging her, and just said out loud “Jesus, please look after my friend, Dawn”.  (I confess I had a knot in my throat when I said that, and my voice was more than a little quivery.) She was hugging me back, but quickly looked up at me, with a surprised sweet smile.  That is when I told her that I was praying for her, and about this blog, and that others would pray for her too.  She said she could use all the prayers she could get.  She wandered off again.

That is one thing that I notice.  Conversations happen in pieces.  They are constantly in motion.  Like they can’t relax and stay in one place too long.

In another conversation, I learn about being “warned” for “camping” at the park.  You only get two warnings.  The third time, you are arrested.  Then if you can’t pay the $250 fine, you have to stay in jail.  When you are in jail, then you can’t check into the shelter.  When you don’t check in the shelter, they put all your stuff in the dumpsters.

Now I understand the constant motion, and why I see hats pulled low sometimes, or hoods pulled up, and then lowered.  Conversations starting, stopping, and starting again.  Everyone seems to wear dark sunglasses.  I guess the better to watch, without being watched.

I learn that sometimes they will call the police on each other.   I learned that now that the weather is warming up they have been getting more warnings.  In fact when we had arrived, there was a police car there.  We had jumped out of our cars just like normal, and started setting up, and I wasn’t sure if he was going to come and talk to us or not.  But, our friends came over, helped unload the cars, tables were set up, food put on the table, line started, and off we went.  I didn’t see the car leave, we were too busy serving.

On one of the occasions Dawn and I were talking “C” brought over a sweater out of the clothing that we had available.  He said “Dawn, here is something that you could probably use”.  She replied, “Thanks, Too-Tall”.  So that tells you a little more about “C”, he really is tall.  🙂  We are starting to learn their nicknames for each other.  So far, “Too Tall”, “Green Hornet” and “Big Bird” are some that we have heard.

I also spent some time with “C”.  (I’m going to see if he will let me mention his name.  I believe he will, but I want to make sure.) “C” aka “Too-Tall” seems to know everyone’s name, even though the others seem to use the nicknames.  I asked about his rheumatoid arthritis and his diabetes.   He said at the last doctor’s visit when the doctor probed his feet, he really didn’t feel it.  That isn’t a good sign when you have diabetes.  He said he also has been having some cramping in his legs.   He said his knee brace has been working fine, his cane he might not need as much anymore.  He kidded that he was using it to pull “F” up the hills.

“F” is the guy that I mentioned in beginning that is quiet.  He is always quick to help us unload the car.  “F” may or may not be there this coming Friday.  “C” said he is trying to get him to go home to NC.  He has a home to go to.  “C” said “F, you have a home to go to, you need to get back there, I don’t have a home to go to”.  “F” was melancholy.  He was missing his baby sister who died from diabetes.  “C” talking about his doctor’s visit, got him to thinking about it.  He told me how much he loved his sister, and missed her.  He told me that she was a Christian, and he knew she was in Heaven.  He said he had been working here in Columbia, but had gone home for her funeral, and when he came back here, didn’t work very long before he was layed off.  Since he hadn’t been working 60 days, he wasn’t able to get unemployment.  He took out a battered wallet and showed me a picture of his sister that looked like it had gotten wet, and was really faded.  He said, “This is the only picture I have of her, and it isn’t very good”.  I told him, “you have a picture of her, here”, and pointed to his heart.  He said “yes, I loved her.”  Then he showed me pictures of his children.  It was a beautiful family picture of 5 children.  He pointed to the oldest girl, and said that is my daughter, that I’m going to see.   The three of us talked a bit about God being in control, even when we don’t feel like that is the case, or understand what is going on.  We talked about faith.  We had several listening to the discussion.  When we left Friday, we gave “F” a big hug and said to have a safe journey home, in case he was gone before we would see him again.

I know this has been a lot of stuff, but like I said I felt like my mind was going into overload just so I could remember everything.  I know that I’ve forgotten something.  So, just lift them up in your prayers please by what you know, and I’ll try to keep you updated as we go along together in this journey.

Another thing we learned…at the end of the month the shelters close.  There will be at least another 300 sleeping on the streets at night according to “C”.


Matthew 10:28,29 (NIV)28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

I’m reminded of the conversation with “C” aka Too-Tall, and “F”.  We were talking about God being in control.  “C” said “When you don’t understand what’s going on, that’s when you just have to have faith.”

Amen,  brother.


2 thoughts on “Operation Soup and Smokes Visit

  1. what a fantastic story. When I go to bed tonight I shall pray for Dawn and for all your other friends.
    It is wonderful to be able to meet another Christian who lives by Faith as I do

    May God be with you always

    • I will be sure to tell Dawn when we go back to the park this Friday that she has prays being lifted up for her across the ocean! I imagine that will bring her joy! Blessings to you and yours!

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