Well, it’s day eight, but who’s counting?
I wanted to get to my spot by 10 a.m. this morning, so I got up and headed out early to catch the bus, not even taking the time to eat my oatmeal. The oatmeal, by the way, has been a lifesaver. This past winter when we were doing the warming shelters, Mat Lasater (of Lasaters) donated these cool little cups of oatmeal, and all you have to do is add warm water, so I brought some with me to see how they do out in the woods … and from this point on, they’ll be standard issue in Manna Café’s homeless bags. All I have to do is put a little of the water I heat up for coffee in the morning into the oatmeal, and in three minutes I have a healthy breakfast, which is hard to come by out here.
Anyway, I got to my corner (Shoney’s on Riverside) about 10:00. I know I was just there on Friday, but for only two hours, so I thought I should go back. I was a little surprised at first that the interaction with passersby seemed a slower than normal. That’s a very busy intersection, but I think that so many people have stood there with signs that everyone has gotten used to it, and they don’t pay attention to who’s there anymore. But as time went on, it got better and turned into a good day.
It was very warm today, and I’m really thankful for those of you who brought me liquids, which made it possible for me to stand there all day in the heat. I had several really good conversations with people who came by—lots of words of encouragement. I think it’s funny that people are stopping by to get their pictures taken with me like I’m some sort of rock star.
I had a bit of a debate with a gentleman who was convinced that most homeless people are con artists who stand on the corner and take people’s money. There are some of those, but others panhandle as a last resort (I mean, think about it: if they’re standing on a street corner asking for money, they’re bringing attention upon themselves, making it harder to hide and not be run off from their camp). And the truth is that for every person you see panhandling, there are at least 30 homeless people you never see and who aren’t asking anybody for anything; they’re just trying to get back on their feet. They’re busy looking for work—or they’re already working, or searching for other ways to get ahead.
One of the most amazing things I’ve seen is people’s willingness to give monetarily. Every day, people stop and give me $25 or $10, $5, or $1—and they say, “I wish I had more to give, but this is all I’ve got.” (Like I’ve mentioned before, everything I collect is going to Manna Cafe.)
One lady in particular drove up, got out of her car, and thanked me for what I was doing. Then she began to tell me how both she and her husband had been laid off from their jobs, and she didn’t know how they were going to make it. Then she pulled her hand out of her pocket and placed it in mine. When she opened her hand, she left behind a collection of coins: pennies, nickels, dimes—it looked like the change you might find in the cushions of a couch. It was really hard not to refuse her money, reach down into my backpack, and give her some of the money I’d collected instead … but God stopped me because that would have robbed her of the blessing, honor, and dignity that was to come straight from the throne room of heaven. This woman was giving extravagantly from her lack. Ironically, there are those of us who have a lot more to give, but we hold back; it’s like we tip God. (By the way, I made sure she knew where the Manna House was so she could go get a food box if she needed it.)
Jesus talked about what this woman did in the Bible:
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’” – Mark 12:41-44
I love seeing Scripture in action.
Till tomorrow—peace out.
If you haven’t yet signed the zoning petition to help us open a full-time transitional homeless shelter, please do—and then pass it on to your FB friends and email contacts. It takes less than a minute.