Normally, being from NY, I would be grateful for this change in the weather and today I was but...
It was about 80 when I took my run this morning and in the low 70s when I picked Glenn up from the hospital at about 9. As the day progressed the temps kept dropping. I was loving the day that felt so much like fall to this New Yorker. By about 4 when we met up with our Sunday School class it was in the low 60s. We ate a quick supper, did a quick Bible study then packed up to head back to Fort Worth.
This is "Love Fort Worth" weekend at our church and each class was supposed to do a service project somewhere in the city. Our class decided to do a "dog drop." We grilled a bunch of hot dogs, wrapped them in foil and stored them in coolers to keep them warm. We then drove to the part of the city where the homeless shelters are and set up tables to give out hot dogs, chips and bottles of water. People came over and grabbed some food and we got a chance to talk to some of them.
With the sudden cold some people asked if we had any blankets. We didn't. Some people asked if we had any coats - one guy gave his away. Some people asked if we had any hot cocoa. We didn't. It was in the nineties when we planned this event. In fact it was in the 90s all week.
Then it started raining. It started with sprinkles then on came a full downpour. We escaped to our vans and the bus. The people out there had no place to go. The impact on us was great. Yes, we're wet but we have dry clothes to change into, we have warm dry homes with beds that we'll sleep in tonight. The people we were "out there to minister to" didn't. The temperature dropped but the rain eased up a bit and we got out to give out more food. We were directed to another area where more people were and went there and passed out the rest of our hotdogs and some more chips and water, chatted and prayed with a few more people. Then we headed back to our cars.
The impact on my crew was strong. We've been "homeless" before but to us that just means we didn't have a place to call home. Every night of our homeless times God has provided a place for us to stay often through great friends and strangers who became friends and if we stayed outside it was in a tent and it was because we CHOSE to sleep in a tent because we like camping not because we had no other option. Seeing these people and realizing we're cold and wet but it's temporary, a problem quickly fixed in an hour when we get home with a change of clothes and a cup of hot chocolate. We've never been homeless like those people we saw and talked to are.
It was interesting to hear some of the kids thoughts afterwards. I'm sure it will be a topic of discussion for the rest of our lives. Here are some things they said:
- "some of the people kind of scared me that toddlers were there."
- "it was kind of sad to see all those people out there homeless but I'm happy that we could give them hotdogs and chips and stuff"
- "I thought we did good. We gave out all the hot dogs"
- "sad. There was a bunch of people we passed driving there that we didn't have hot dogs out to give them"
- "I'm so thankful that we have a home to sleep in on this cold wet night. We have dry clothes, blankets."
- "We are sooooo blessed." (Stated many times by everyone.)
- (with sadness) "They must have no friends to help them. Whenever we were homeless friends helped us."
I'm not sure that we'll ever think of a chilly, rainy night the same again. The kids have plans to go to Town Talk and buy a bunch of hot chocolate mix and styrofoam cups so we'll be ready next time it's cold. In our debrief we discussed how to collect coats and blankets for these people because winter is coming. Yes, it won't be a NY winter but it will be cold, especially to bodies that have been out in the 100 degree days of Texas all summer long.
So tonight I'm grateful. More grateful than usual that I'm not homeless. Grateful that I have dry clothes, a warm dry house, and a bed to sleep in. I have a pantry full of food and enough stuff to fill 15' of a semi trailer - too much stuff. I need to be listening. I don't know what God wants us as a family to do with regard to the homeless but I'm praying for guidance and longing to be obedient to what He asks us to do.