Saturday, January 28, 2012

let me be empty

There were a few moments from our trip that really stood out for me and I would like to share them with you. Lets take a look in the brown leather journal that I filled while I was there

"we went for dinner at UGM (union gospel mission) and like the day before we decided to split up so we weren't this clump of new faces. We were with the second group to go in for dinner and Jon (who was going with the Alis of Chad Williams)and I sat down at a table with only one other man at it. The man sat with his face down, focused on his dinner tray, we start to eat as well and I look up and over at him and tears are streaming down his face and he is quietly sobbing. Jon and I exchange confused looks and I start to push my tray across the table with the intention of going to sit by the man, but then I hesitate, what if he doesn't want to talk to me? I get up and I go over to him, I ask him I can talk to him, he says that fine, I ask him whats wrong and he begins to spill about a life of pain, of physical pain from several accidents and emotional pain which drove him to years swallowed by a alcohol addiction. I ask him if he wants me to get one of the staff and he shakes his head "there isn't anything they could do" I pause "I don't usually do this ... I don't want you to think I'm a religious freak but I believe in Christ" I begin to tell him what I believe and how I believe in healing. After stammering nervously through this explanation I ask him if I can pray for him, he nods tears still clinging to his cheeks, I place my hand on his arm and we pray, he leaves shortly after"

Later in Seattle

"Jon and I are walking slowing behind Jordan and Janelle, they are ahead waiting at a stop sign and a small older lady calls out to us from the bench she is sitting at, I approach and ask her name, Sylvia, she begins to tell me that she is temporally homeless and that she was hoping someone would buy her a sandwich, my heart sinks a little as we decided not to take any money with us. I explain to her that tonight we are in the same situation as she is and that I don't have anything to share with her, again I hesitate and start with "I don't usually do this..." and I ask if I can pray with her, she clasps my hand tightly and says "pray honey" I pray and say goodbye..."

One thing about these prayers was how powerful they felt I walked away knowing that God was there. Its strange that in both these situations I said to the person I was talking to "all I can do with you is prayer" when really prayer is a huge deal, and depending on the person doing the praying, can be a hugely vulnerable act, one that is very personal and genuine.

I often pray with people at the shelter, but I think sometimes things can get muddled in my head, I work for an agency that provides basic needs and i feel like i should be providing a tangible "something" whenever someone comes to me, these experiences of prayer on the streets are something I am sinking into in my "work" its really a blessing....

Sunday, January 1, 2012

material word

I get strange attachments to some of my material objects. One of them is my backpack. I was gifted this backpack by two friends just before I went to Africa. Its traveled with me basically everywhere and we have many stories together. We've seen many airports and many dirt roads. This backpack has been with me to camp, to work, to south Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, India, Vancouver, Saskatoon...basically everywhere I've gone since I was 17.
Tonight I packed it for a new adventure. Adventure isn't the right word though...pilgrimage...
My shift is over in approx 5 hours, 3 of my friends will pick me up and we are headed to east Hastings in Vancouver, we will each bring minimal changes of clothing and a sleeping bag...we are going to go experience street life for a week and a bit.

I would be lying to say I wasn't nervous, I would be lying to say I am not feeling a bit of anxiety over this. Homelessness is far more then not having shelter. And its not something that we will understand after only a few days. In fact I slept under a bridge one night before and sometimes looking back on that experience I laugh a little thinking how profound I found that was profound but it was only a fraction of what the reality of homelessness is.

I think God calls some people to intentional poverty, I remember thinking that in Africa, because in reality what we have to offer as followers of Christ are not material things, nothing that would fit in a backpack, but it is the hope of Christ...its hope that the pain we feel here and the nasty stuff we go through is not all there is, its hope that we are loved by perfection and that He offers us freedom for all the things that hold us in shackles. Sometimes I feel like I may be called to interact with poverty in a different way, not as a helping hand in a yellow shirt, but maybe just as a girl who loves Jesus who is seated on the pavement beside you. Maybe this week will make that clearer..