I have that sick feeling in my stomach. These are the sick feelings that I think will continue to come in and out of my life. At least I pray they do.
As you know, I live in South Dallas which is a poverty stricken area at large. Everyone you talk to would define it differently in terms of the conditions physically and spiritually. Regardless of that I can only speak to my experience.
Most nights we have a man by the name of Willy that sleeps out in our driveway. We have become buddies. I gave him my left over pork chops one night…he loves me now:)
Tonight I was coming back to my apartment after working out..about 9:30 at night. As I pull in i see a man half wrapped in a sheet getting ready to call it a night in our driveway. It scared me because I didn’t recognize him. I had my neighbor watch me walk in so that I would be safe. (See mom, I am careful!) About ten minutes later I had a craving for ice creme so I left to make a McDonalds run! As I walked out my door he asked me for some water. Luckily I had some of that:) I also grabbed an extra blanket for him. Seriously though….a cold bottle of water and an old, thin, small blanket. How does this even help? That’s when my stomach started to hurt.
When I handed it to him he asked if I had any food. I paused (because I don’t have anything that doesn’t require cooking or baking) and he looked up at me and said it didn’t have to be much. I told him I was going to McDonalds and that I could grab him something there…don’t worry, Chad proceeded to list off his personal order:)
1 Medium Coffee
He got what he asked for except I substituted an apple pie for the cookies. He told me that was even better. When I got back we chatted for a bit and I found out he is only in Dallas for his mom’s funeral. He normally works on boats in Michigan. It sounds like he might have some kids because he pays child support.
As I was standing there I realized he used my bottle of water to bathe. My stomach started to hurt a little more. It was cold water….that had to give him the chills as he was prepping for bed. I asked him if he would like some socks because I could tell he had just washed his feet and had his shoes off. He asked if he could have a sweatshirt…I said I would look because honestly I am a minimalist when it comes to those things so I usually only have one for myself. I grabbed a couple of pair of socks, a poncho I got in Peru and boiled some water and put it in a canteen that will keep it hot all night and a coffee cup he can pour it in.
As I brought it down to him he was sincerely thankful. He started to cut up with me and you could tell we would be fast friends:) He is a normal person in the midst of some obvious circumstances. As we closed our conversation and jokes I headed up to my apartment knowing that this community around me and it is so transient that I may never talk to this guy again. I also knew that my little gesture maybe helped for a night in a really small way, but it honestly wouldn’t help for a lifetime. I walked into my apartment and hit a burst of warm air compelled by what I just engaged in. I went about my nightly duties and stopped to check on Chad out the window. It looked like he was bathing a little bit more and then situating himself under the blankets. It took him a little bit to get situated but he seems to be tucked in all under his covers on the cement slab for the night.
This isn’t a story to speak of what I did or where I live. Honestly, the longer I live here the more it becomes normal to be in these situations. The more I realize it is not about me. The more I realize how full of pride I am. This post really is to just vocalize what exists in this world. There are people all around you in need in various forms. Please engage in some way. Please engage in the life of someone that has a spiritual or a physical need. Do it in a republican way or do it in a democratic way. Nights like this make me care less on what path you choose to serve the poor. Nights like this also continue to solidify how I choose to vote in regards to social issues.
As I close out I just glanced to check in on chad and it appears he has company from a man and his suitcase. Please pray for the streets of South Dallas. I long for the day that God’s hope shines here and has transformed those that are hurting in need. I pray that he will use me mightily through intercession to usher his spirit.
Because I don’t keep much on hand please contact me if you would like to donate any blankets, pillows, canteens, McDonalds gift cards, water bottles, socks and so on. Please know that I do not believe these actions create development within a person but I also know that I can’t go to sleep each night while my neighbor doesn’t have these things right outside my door.