Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Homeless Outreach:

Saturday, December 2, 2006 I went along with a friend, her brother, and a handful of others from her church to distribute donated food, clothes, and blankets and compaasion to the homeless of inner Philly. My dad took me to the church around 2:40 P.M. and he then talked with the leader until 3:10….making us late.

We piled into two cars and got to our destination around 6:30 in time for some rush-hour jams. We ate at the New Delhi restaurant which is an Indian Buffet. I found that I don’t like buttered rice at all, though I suffered through it for some deliciously spicy, watery red stuff that REALLY needed some rice.(the only food I forgot the name of) I liked the Lamb and spinach that they had, and the lentils. I avoided the American’s defaults of a salad bar, small battered & fried chicken legs, and round, flat bread. Dessert was encluded in the meal, so I tried Indian Rice Pudding instead of trying cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, or coffe. (yuck!)

Joetta (the lady we were going to work with who had run a shelter for some years) shared her testimony, and talked about the people we were going to see/minister to. We walked out into the 40 degree city, and had a time of group prayer before getting into the vans and splitting into teams. I was on the socialization/prayer team. We wandered around looking for someone Joetta knew, and saw people making a movie under one of Philly’s neumerous bridges. We finally found the people against the back of a huge building behind a ‘park’ of sorts that bordered a street with four rows of flags.(from all nations...I blew kisses to the RP) We gave out blankets and coats to people who were huddled under layers and layers of comforters shivering. It was a hard contrast. One man was amazed as we gave him a coat with a silk lining, and a ‘brand new’ bright blue parka. He was so shocked, that he kept on saying "Oh, that’s-that’s so nice…that is just beautiful."

He had dislocated his shoulder recently, and couldn’t do as much as he used to do. It was also very painful since this was the third time he had hurt it. It never really healed because he took of the sling sooner than should be because he needed his other hand. We also gave him water, socks, jeans, some warm gloves, and hats. He reminiced growing up in TX with Mr. James.

We moved on, after searching for another aquaintence of Ms. Joetta’s and came to a lovely, pillared stone building with scrolls, and porches, and big columns. In the park across the street, the benches were filled with shivering people. Mr. James (my group leader), his wife, son, and I got to know Jerry who didn’t want to come out of her pile of blankets because of the cold. She was a ‘mother-hen’ type of person who introduced us to all the others around (her adopted family). We gave her a bright pair of red gloves (her favorite color), and she popped out from her blankets, and put them on just to feel them. They had Black stripes, and she exclaimed over & over about how well they would match her black parka. She showed me how she arranged her blankets to get warm on the bench, and where the toe-warmers went. We gave her two other pairs of knit gloves, a black hat, and two things of lotion.(one for them, one for them to give away and bless someone else) Mr. James and his wife had been talking to her adopted brother in the meantime, who knew a lot about things. He talked about a volcano in Yellowstone Park called Caldera that would soon errupt due to global warming, and the pollution of car-emmisions. "Then," he said, "we are going to have a new world order" b/c this one volcano would wipe out all of America, most of Canada, Mexico and Central America with pyroclastic flow and ash fallout.(I studied volcanos in a unit study with my two older siblings, and mom when I was younger. The conclusion of our learning was a vacation and climb of the volcano Hibok-hibok which had errupted earlier in the 1930’s.) He said that it was the world’s largest volcano. I said it was interesting that I had NEVER heard about it…even with my unit study experience.

Mr. James’ daughter wanted a picture, so Jerry and her gang primped, and styled (seriously!! It was funny to see them arranging their hats and smoothing their coats) and smiled pretty. It was them around 9:30, and getting even colder. I had on a turtleneck sweater, and a jacket (I’ve lost two pairs of gloves so far this winter, so I didn’t have any), and I was COLD. Our team leader had to drag us away (really, he told us 3 times, and we dwadled until he made us go), and we were back on the good old turn-pike by 10.

My friend rode in the other car, so her brother and I talked half-way back.(Or rather, I thought of things to ask him, and he murmered two-sentence answers. *sigh*-melencholies) We stopped for gas and coffe at Starbucks half-way there, and I stayed in the warm car. The rest of the way, the teens in the back seat calmed down, and a general sleepiness fell on everyone. We got to ‘Micsbug’ around midnight, and got out of the car only to rush back in. The car had to go home, so we got out and within a minute we were physically shivering, and our teeth were chattering so badly that we couldn’t hardly talk. I don’t know how cold it was but it was aweful!! We took refuge in my friend’s car until my dad came to pick me up. I sat by the wood-stove until I had thawed out only to return to my 45 degree bedroom to huddle under blankets with a thankful prayer the the wind coming under my closed and locked window was NOT as cold as outside and a gratefulness that I wasn’t outside exposed to it.

I liked my time out, and the gratefulness that lined Jerry’s face as she hugged ‘everyone’ goodbye was bright. As our team leader put it….we groups of people are known ‘the ones who come to listen’ to them. It was understandable, since I as an MK understand no one caring enough to listen. How much more so when you are veiwed as less than human because you don’t have a roof and four walls with a door to call your own…..

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