Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stadium Updates

Stadium (If you’re only going to read one part of this newsletter please choose this one!)

The feeding at the stadium continues to grow and be a blessing for everyone involved.  God has definitely used the lateness of this newsletter (not that I’m making excuses :) ) to be able to share with you 3 wonderful stories that probably would have been forgotten by the time the next newsletter rolls around.   In past couple of weeks the number of people coming to the stadium to eat on Mondays and Thursdays has grown quite a bit as has our relationship with these people.  They are no longer “the homeless people at the stadium” in my mind, but my friends that I know by name.  It is humbling and awe inspiring that as I begin to truly love these people, individually, I am graced with a small piece of what God feels towards each one of us.   I left the stadium on Thursday touched in a way I haven’t been touched in a long time and here are 3 reasons why.

Sweet, sweet Ana – Ana, the 17 year old mother of a 6 week old Marlen, told me last week that her birthday was on Friday.  So I told her I would try and do something for her birthday.  Since the group had left on Wednesday I went through the snacks and supplies they had left behind and put together a little birthday present for her.  It was nothing special, some apple sauce, candy, and cookies, some flip flops and a little toy for Marlen.   But when Ana came through the line and I told her I had a gift for her birthday she squealed like an innocent child and was so excited.  She and her friends Hada and Jessica stood to the side giggling like school girls until the line was through and she could get her gift.  They came with me to the truck and were so excited that someone had taken the time to remember her birthday.  The gift cost literally nothing but it showed them that someone really did care to remember them.  The other girls were so gracious to Ana and happy for her.  I just pray for more opportunities to show them that God cares for them. 

The wisdom of Pilo the drunk – As I mentioned before, more and more people are showing up to eat, which is a blessing but is also hard for those that have been coming since the beginning.  Before, almost anyone that wanted them could have seconds and/or take a plate to someone that didn’t come.  Now we’re scraping the bottom to give a plate to everyone that comes through.  On Thursday that was an issue for Pilo.  Pilo is probably around 24 years old, but it’s really hard to tell, he is always drunk but usually extremely happy, with a smile that splits his whole toothless face.  For some reason Pilo has earned the title “the drunk” by the homeless people even though many of them are just as drunk as Pilo, just as often.  Anyway, on Thursday Pilo wanted another plate and I couldn’t give him one because there was still a long line of people to feed.  This made Pilo very angry and he started stomping around and cursing and saying he wasn’t ever coming back (this wasn’t anything terribly uncommon by the drunk crew).  I continued serving the food but afterwards I went and sat down with Pilo to see if we could repair our friendship and end on a good note.  Pilo was still very angry but calming down quickly as he opened his mouth and shocked me with his words. “Amber, man doesn’t live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Talk about humbling.  This drunk, angry man was reminding me as well as himself that there is a God that is a lot more important than food and he wasn’t going to let a plate of food stand between our friendship or his relationship with God.  We ended up sitting and talking for a while then with a hug and a smile with both went on with our evening.  Occasionally we see glimpses of heaven right before our eyes. 

The heartbreaking story of Marvin – Occasionally as we’re feeding we get someone passing through that just grabs a bite to eat that is probably going home to a decent place.  We don’t pass judgment we just feed everyone that comes through the line.    Thursday night (Thursday was a busy night) a young man came through that looked pretty healthy, was wearing decent clothes, but looked a little lost.  I just assumed he was a passerby and didn’t give it much thought.  But after my conversations with Ana and Pilo I realized this kid was still hanging around.  That wasn’t normal for the passersby.  So I walked over and started asking some questions and quickly realized that this kid was on the street and scared to death.  Marvin is 19 years old and has been in and out of different children’s homes since he was 8.  4 days prior Marvin had been living at the Micah Project, I don’t know much about it but it reaches out to older kids that need a place to stay.  According to Marvin he walked in and another one of the kids had set Marvin’s clothes on fire so Marvin picked up a stick and hit the guy with it breaking his arm.  After the incident both boys were kicked out of the home.   This isn’t the sweet boy next door, this kid has serious problems and issues to deal with, but he is so lost and alone on the street.  He knows he screwed up and he knows he probably blew the last chance anyone is going to give a 19-year-old with no education for a home.  So now he’s on the street and he knows no one.  But he happened by, or as I choose to believe, God led him by, our food stand and maybe, just maybe he saw a glimmer of hope in us.   Marvin was born in Guatamala and lived there until he was 8, at some point during that time dad skipped town and at 8 years old his older brothers pressured Marvin to leave the home and take pressure off of his single mom.  When he talked about his mom he cried.  He believes her to still be in Guatamala but has no way of contacting her or knowing where she is.  He truly is a lost little boy that feels completely alone in the world.  At this point Marvin is still clean but that can change overnight in a community where huffing and drinking are as natural as breathing.  I’ve promised to try and find Marvin a job so that hopefully he can get on his feet if he promises to stay away from the glue.  God can change lives and I pray that this life is spared the misery of addiction that the streets so often lead to.  On the drive home I looked over at my boys and my heart just melted.  They could so easily be in Marvin’s shoes.  It is heartbreaking to imagine them in that position but for the grace of God we could all be stadium kids. 

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