These would be important on Friday…
Wednesday was a brand new day to let Christ shine through acts of caring and love. First order of business was to have breakfast; then gather for instructions, pray and worship, and move out with hearts filled with the light of Christ. During breakfast I watched one of my roommates talk with a young man staying at the hotel for business purposes. She expressed true interest in his circumstances, obligations, and family. Conversation became a time of listening to the tug of war between spiritual traditions his family enjoyed and his desire for more of the relational life he knew was possible with God. She blessed him with wisdom as he walked the fine line of pursuing God with the consequences that could occur.
During the day we visited a few apartment complex’ bringing glitter tattoos, words of appreciation and encouragement to children in these areas. Seeing the children blossom as we placed glitter on their arms and legs; and spoke accepting, encouraging words to their spirits was priceless. As others came to observe they became recipients of free water, focused listening ears, and hearts interested in their life’s story. These areas see violence routinely, unknown cars bring suspicion, windows stay covered up. I saw so many signs of hope during those visits. Several yards had greenery lovingly cared for, some had fake flowers stuck in the dirt; anything to bring color and life to a dreary landscape. There were many stories shared by other team members of the personal encounters, life struggles and success’ they heard, tragic losses memorialized on walls, etc. We truly operated under an open heaven. The weather was perfect, if danger lurked it was kept at a distance. During conversation later I was reminded of the relationships built in the past by our leader which paved the way for our acceptance in the projects. It felt very safe and easy to accomplish, but foundations had been built. Light had gone before us to pave the way.
The evening brought a trip to Golden Gate Park. The team I was with stayed in the park to deliver sandwiches, water, dog and cat food, clothing, hygiene supplies, etc. to the homeless who make the Park their home. We visited two groups; one group seemed older than the other; everyone needs family of some sort. It was cold and damp that night. They appreciated the gloves, socks, etc., those items broke the ice for conversations. There were several dogs and cats in one of the groups. One little kitten was in a harness made of yarn, another older cat had a harness of stretchy cording that allowed more movement. The dogs and cats all seemed peaceful in their own spaces. After handing out items, our gift to them was listening with no agenda. One of my roommates sat on the ground and spent 45 minutes talking to an older gentleman, I stayed close to our leader to get some tips on casual interactions. This night we heard of family crisis’, traveling from one state to another, plans for the future, basic likes and hobbies that don’t seem to disappear when the circumstances of life change. I spent about 20 minutes with a young man asking him to demonstrate his talents with the fire or devil sticks that he had. These were new to me! He made the movements and transitions from one stick to another, twirling, flying, bouncing, etc. seem flawless and oh so easy. Of course they were not lit, but he did get enjoyment from showing his skills. The part I found difficult was listening to a puppy cry and yelp as it’s owner forced control over it’s movements. My heart was associating the puppy’s cries for freedom to the cries of all hearts for release from aggressive bondage. My prayer is that the light of God we carried was loosing some of those bonds, whether we saw it or not.