Well this past Sunday was the day of the annual move back to the winter spot. During the summer the pavilion that is used in the winter, is rented out for different activities and we are not able to use the covering. With summer over and families and companies no longer using the covering we are able to move back. With winter coming it does help some when it is raining or snowing. It doesn’t provide any shelter from the cold, but at least some are not getting wet. For those who are asking, yes, we are outside all year long. This move brought some worries and excitement at the same time. Worry, because winter is approaching and I am very concerned for my friends during these cold days. They leave the shelters at seven in the morning and can’t return until about eight thirty in the evening. Try staying that long outside in the frigged cold. The move did bring a sense of excitement though. As I stood in the park Sunday, I realized I had come full circle. This is the spot were I started a year ago. A year ago on my first day down there, I remember sitting in the truck shacking, scared to death to go by myself and boldly go and just start talking to the homeless in the park. I almost drove off that day and I thank my God that I did not. In one year’s time, my life has drastically changed and I would not ask to go back and redo any of it. In these beautiful people, I have found friends, family and I have seen God move in ways that just floor me. They tell me that I am one of them, what they don’t realize is that they have become such a part of me, that I can’t ever think of not having them around.
Sunday Terrica met me at the house, James (my son) got off work early, and we packed up the truck and headed down. When we arrived at the park, we unloaded right away and were instantly mobbed by people. With in about a half hours time we were out of everything. I could not believe the crowd down there this weekend. Dianna arrived shortly after. Her heart is really with the young children we get there. She sat at a table and had foam pumpkins for the kids to decorate. I rounded up some kids for her to do the project with and they had a blast. The part that just cracks me up though, is the adults that wanted to sit down and do one also. Tough street guys and they are sitting there with stickers and glitter pens decorating pumpkins. I watched in amazement, it wasn’t about getting to decorate something, what they wanted was the time she was willing to give to each one. The time to sit, laugh, listen and love on them. She had a young man there, who has been in the park for a while, he just would not leave, he so much wanted to be loved on and she gave that to him. It was like watching a mother spend time with her child. She made a deep connection with him and it is something he will remember for a long time. Terrica also was at the table and was able to have a deep conversation with one of the people there, which has a special place in her heart. This person has been hurting for a long time and she is beginning to trust Terrica and because of Terrica’s beautiful heart, this person is learning that she is loved and accepted unconditionally. She no longer sits alone in the park and when she arrives she comes right over, knowing that she is always welcome.
I tried to walk around and visit at the park, but sometimes there are those days when the unexpected happens and your focus is on that one person. There is an older gentleman that I have been trying to talk to for a year now. Ever week he is in the park and every week I try, but he is angry and really doesn’t want anything to do with me or anyone else. I was standing in the park and I realized someone had walked up long side of me. I turned to see who it was and it was this gentleman. I said Hello and asked how he was doing. I expected the usual and thought he will leave like always. This man turned to me and started talking; telling me about himself and his life and it was about an hour to an hour and a half that we talked. As I stood there, I wanted to cry. For a solid year I have been trying to talk to this man and here he was, pouring his guts out to me. Then there is the young Goth kid. I have had the same results with him, not wanting to talk, shun me as I tried to talk to him and about two weeks ago, Terrica was standing under a tree and he walked up behind her. She said hello and he just watched every move she made, examining everything she did and every word she said, but like Terrica says “ He was looking for something in her, she could feel it.” You could see part of him was waiting to be rejected and when that didn’t happen, doors were suddenly opened. They talked and laughed. He was there this Sunday and felt right at home with us. I told Terrica that Monday when I stopped by one of the shelters, he was there and came over and joked and talked. Monday at the shelter was mind blowing. I arrived to help one of the guys move some of his things to a friend’s house and as soon as I pulled up there was a swarm of people. A lot I know from the park and a few new faces, but each one wanting attention. So, when I dropped the young man off, I spent time just visiting.
The point I guess I am trying to get across in the blog is, not just what happened Sunday in the park, but how if we give of ourselves and invest our time into people’s lives, the doors that will open for you to speak into someone’s life are unlimited. We are looking for the instant miracles, the dramatic to happen and sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way. We have to be willing to be in it for the long haul and not give up on people so easily. No matter how draining or heart breaking, no matter how much you want to throw in the towel and say I quit, each life is valuable, is deserving of love and is just as precious to our God as you are. It may take a week, a year, a few years or even a life time, but my friends without homes, our families, friends and acquaintances all deserve the same love that He has shown us. We should not be so quick to give up on any of them, you never know when that day will come and an open door to their heart will suddenly open.
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