First, let me give my apologies for not reporting on last Wednesday’s trip to Finlay park before now. It was just one of those weeks.
Wednesday was a really dreary, rainy, damp day. (I know, what a lot of adjectives) Rainy days have a way of dampening the spirits, and it certainly doesn’t help when you are also operating on a serious lack of sleep due to a bout of insomnia. I know that while we were driving to the park, I was praying to myself, “please God, let me be an encouragement to those in need today, even while I feel so spent inside”.
We arrived and unloaded the cars under the pavilion to protect everything from the rain. There certainly weren’t as many as the Friday before, but still we served around 50 or more. Some had arrived as early as 8:30 a.m. to get there before the downpour to keep their things as dry as possible. We had lasagna, chili, vegetable beef soup, cookies and brownies available. With the rain and a slightly smaller group than the Friday before, there was the opportunity for seconds and thirds if needed. We don’t ever seem to have any leftovers. We thought there was going to be some chili left over, but when we loaded up the cars, a man came over to get a few bowls for himself and his two children, two more stopped, next thing….Marlo’s chili…..gone.
Our “regular” friends were there. They laugh when we call them by their nicknames now. There’s Chuck “Too Tall”, Jerry “Green Hornet” and Robert ”Big Bird”. Their spirits were pretty good considering the weather, and the need to make new living arrangements since the shelter was closing.
We got to visit with Dawn and Ernie before they prepare to leave for Ohio. Robert “Big Bird” is going with them, and we may see him one more time before they leave. Dawn and Ernie we will not see until they return in six months. They will be working with a carnival. This is something that they do every year, and then they return as Dawn’s children and mother live here in the area. Dawn has been able to eat, however, they have been anxious because someone has been threatening Dawn’s life. They received money from their employer in Ohio to stay in a hotel prior to leaving, so this past Wednesday was the last day we would see them for a while. Dawn was emotional, and they stayed at the park as long as we were there. When we were packed up, Ernie shook hands and thanked Rebecca and Marlo for “starting this thing”. It was a bittersweet goodbye, as Rebecca and her family will be moving and Ernie and Dawn know that they will not be seeing them when they return.
It was one of those days where I really just had such mixed feelings. I didn’t know if I was making a difference or not. I sensed sadness in those leaving, yet I had also shared some laughs with some others. I knew Ernie and Dawn were in a situation that I couldn’t really help with. Sometimes you just feel helpless. And I was thinking, if I feel helpless, what do they feel? You know how when you are tired, you just question yourself and how you’re doing? That’s where I was.
That’s also when God speaks….if I’m willing to listen, if I’m willing to see and hear. If the heart is open.
Jason, had been talking with me awhile about how much our ministry meant to him. He said that he might not see us next week, because he had a pretty good job interview. Before he left, he had shook my hand, and then I gave him a hug. He started walking away, and looked back at me sideways and said “Keep doing God’s work, I love you.”
I have to tell you at first it surprised me. And, then I was reminded again of a lesson: why do I keep thinking that we are the only one’s that are “doing God’s work here?” Here are some men and women walking with God, in their own ways showing Jesus’ love, they just happen to be homeless. I was forgetting Jason’s walk with Christ, and how we can all help and encourage each other.
I went there to encourage and became someone who was ministered too.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord……….and keep them open.