Today, I was brought to a place I never thought I could handle and or experience.
I was invited by Breakthrough Ministries to join them in handing out blankets to the homeless that were made by our churches children’s ministries. I guess I thought I would be standing on a street corner (well, that did happen as well but not til much later in the day) handing them out to people sleeping under boxes.
We arrive in St Paul, not a familiar place.
We went to a location in St Paul where they feed and house the homeless. I thought we were going inside – nope – we trecked thru the snow to the woods behind the building that housed a man who lived in a tent. Dave Engman knew him and has a repoire with him so he was very welcoming. Dave spoke to him about moving him into the Breakthrough Ministry program – HE DECLINED. He said that he wanted to make sure that he had a job before he left his tent. I said “you would rather stay here in the cold rather than a warm roof over your head?” He said ” I would like a job first” After spending the day with the homeless, you come to understand why- I will tell you more about that at the end.
We then traveled by car to a shelter where the homeless were between meals and they were honestly no where to be found. Except for one man – Elam. He was from Africa. Such a warm hearted man who is homeless but, sleeping on a friends couch. We tell him that we are from Hosanna and that we have a blanket from the kids. He said “that is so funny, I was just walking here talking to God saying that I could use him and some prayers and here you are” I CRIED! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? God is good.
We then piled back in the car and headed again to an area of St Paul that I am unfamiliar with. I was day dreaming of coffee at this point….Oops sorry – back to the story
We park on a side street and I am told that we have to run across the road and climb over the railing that seperates the street from the Mississippi River – Um, yeah, it was a long ways down my friends…Well, I say, I am up for the adventure so lets make it happen. We all run across the busy street with bags of blankets and candy in hand. I look at how far down the fall “could be” and say what the heck – I climb over ….Holding on for dear life and I mean dear – we end up under the bridge. I have never in my life been this close to these tents that the homeless call home. We drive by them every day and notice but, never think of that person in the freezing cold. David Engman introduces us all and we sit and talk. Folding chairs, tables, candles, a Happy Holiday sign fill the concrete and sand home of this homeless couple. We must have been there for an hour just talking to Dave & Teri. Dave goes on and on about how delish the chili was that he just ate and fills us in on his recipe secret of throwing half a jar of tostitos spinach dip in i t – hmmmm interesting. I tell him, I will try it sometime.
Their story is not unlike most in this situation. We take pictures, we talk about how warm his tent is and about a dog they had before a jogger took it home. The view they have is actually breathtaking – I mention it and they giggle. I meant it. It was truly beautiful.
After hugs and thank yous for their hospitality we climb back up the very steep and snowy walkway that will get us back to our warm cars and my protein bar. Um, I think I am still needing coffee. My toes are frozen. Did I mention it was cold? Ok moving on….
We head back out to the shelter -I look at the new condos going up that over look the river and in front of me is the state Capital. Do people know that when they are buying these new places that there are homeless people sleeping underneath them? It really makes me physically uncomfortable at the state of affairs.
It is dinner time, We head back to the Dorothy Day Center. We just set up camp on the corner and I cannot even begin to tell you the overwhelming response to us being there. There was a man who told Sheri at least ten times to thank the children. He was so appreciative. To see how happy these adults were to be coming out of a free meal into the cold and being handed a blanket that a child made – just a humbling but yet filling experience. All I kept thinking was – this is GOD.
When we were just about done. A young man approached. We handed him a blanket and offered him prayer – he said “I will pass on the blanket and take the prayer” He continued ” I have all of these student loans to pay, lost my job and I am now here, getting in line for free meals. Can you ask God for a job for me?” I asked what he went to school for – It was something really smart and beyond my understanding to be completely honest. We prayed over him and and I cried once again.
Back to one of the things I learned today. People adapt. I was freezing and Dave was standing there in light jacket and socks as we spoke. Us just being there was comfort enough. People cared. It was like we showed up at his house unannonced and he welcomed us in.
They are in a situtaion where they are controlling their situation and having to be accountable is not something that all are necessarily ready for. I saw men who want to work before they are given a handout. A man who has children in college but he doesnt want to burden them with his problems. Pride, love, trust in a Lord and appreciation of complete strangers. They let go and let God while we were there. They all and I mean just about every one – said” Bless you” to us! How unselfish – we get to go to our warm homes, hug our children, eat out of our fridge and make a pot of coffee. Really? Bless me? Bless you! (but thank you of course)
I say this all of the time – no matter what you are going through – there has to be something you are grateful for. Take a moment and think about this story from my journey today. My heart will never be the same. What I experienced today was an idea and a passion that a man has for the homeless. The homeless that you and I pass on the street every day. What I experienced today has changed my life in a small way. I hope it has touched you.
Please become a fan of Breakthrough Ministries here on FB. I am looking at finding a way to become more involved. I want to help them raise a simple $500.00 so that they can get free canned goods from a charity here in town that asks charities to pay an annual fee of $500.00 just to be able to pick up food and bring it to the homeless. I am going to dedicate my time in finding them a way to find donated space, whether a warehouse, a house or apt complex to help get these guys off the streets.
At this point, I am just asking for your involvement on their FB page. Let me know you have done it. If your heart stirs and you want to help in a way that I mentioned above – get in touch via a message. There are so many of you on my page – we have to be able to get this Breakthrough off the ground and continue to help get the homeless off of the street.
After what I have seen today, I cannot just drive by anymore. Theses are someones children, sons, brother, sisters and parents. I cant pretend that they are not there for one more minute of my life. Like I said, I will never be the same.
Smiles and Blessings to you
I am going to upload some pictures from yesterday. I will not say much here as a picture is worth a 1000 words. Be blessed and thank you – Pete, Sheri, Nicole, Kathy, Amy, Marlin, (Marlin’s daughter), and Ronald Williams for an amazing day with the homeless…