I think this was the day I was MOST nervous about. Mostly because I'm the type of person that really has a hard hard time starting conversations. Even the simplest "how are you" becomes difficult for me when I'm out of my comfort zone. I'm thrown into an unknown neighborhood with unknown people with unknown outcomes.
Our morning started off pretty simple...get breakfast eaten...and get ready to go.
They briefed us on what we would be doing and what our mission was that morning. Basically we were going to walk around the streets and invite as many as we could to lunch being served at the VOA at 1:30pm. We stayed in rather large teams and some of us wore our dream center shirts. They asked us to really use wisdom when speaking or talking to folks. They told us to be careful in shaking hands even, in case someone had needles or other things in their hands. They also told us to keep conversations to a minimum as to really get the word out to as many as possible.
I quickly realized that I'm still out of my element...and yet still smiling and not saying a word. I would wave to a few people...and talk to a few...but never really held conversations. I tried to remain focused within as to the purpose at hand...and help the team invite people to be sure they KNEW that there was some food available to them later in the afternoon. Basically right down the street.
One man in particular flat out said..."I don't go to that side of the street"....I honestly couldn't tell if he was joking or serious.
One person said "Some of the homeless around here feel they are so invisible that they can walk in the middle of the street and a car would not hit them"....
One person said in response to giving cold water "I don't need your help!".....
One person said "Our apartment burned in a fire, that is why we are here"....
Apparently we also met a "celebrity" homeless woman that was in the movie The Soloist. She was pointed out to us by one of the staff. Apparently she had also been hired for another movie recently....and chooses to stay on the street, even though she has an apartment. I had the feeling she was a "momma" type...as I saw her grabbing meals for others...and then wheeling them back out to go deliver them.
They also handed out flyers for services should anyone choose to want to go to a church service or something right near them.
We also met the *regulars* outside the VOA who had their own prayer circle going on. I was thankful to hear that...and see that...you could tell there really was a family unit going on with some of these folks. I left thinking to myself...while there are many BAD things going on - there are some good things too.
Neecie also told us a story of a young girl on the street that day...and how she met up with her later in the evening...and had gotten a connection for her to get off the street and into a great opportunity. The last word I heard...they were getting her plugged in!!! I thought that was a great story of how Godly connections can be made and prayers can be answered.
In the end, I felt part of my part...was to just be me...and no one else. I did push myself out of the comfort zone...and tried to think of things I could do or say just to share my love. I took people waters, threw away trash...smiled and had some small conversations. I did enjoy briefly talking with Miss Patty who had the lovely red streaks in her hair so that when I saw her walk into the VOA...I could say "look who's here!". That was really fun there. :) I know that small acts of kindness do go a long way. I know that I was CHALLENGED to find even more kind things I could do at anytime every day back home.
I was thankful for this experience...to see the hurting...to see those with HOPE....to see those without hope...to see those desiring to share hope....and give a good hearty meal to those in need. It was a great setup and a blessing to see. :)
I opted to not go back for the 3rd time to Skid Row. My heart, mind, emotions were fully spent after the long afternoons there. A good group of people did go back though for the evening.
LATER IN THE DAY
Later on in the day....we decided to eat out at the Brite Spot again....to have Lisa enjoy what she didn't get to enjoy when we went out after church!!! :)
We were able to talk and share about thoughts, ideas, inspirations....
I think we spent the rest of the day packing....prepping for our early early early trip back home....and then I made ONE LAST pit stop at the Out of the Closet store....(did a lot of walking)....and found another great little shop too...where a lady had some pieces from West Virginia that I bought. I had lived there briefly as a child...and had a fondness to find that out. :) lol!!!! I definitely ended the trip on a high note with a lot learned...and a lot shared.