Yesterday, I wrote of the mistake of taking God out of God's plans. I had been talking about the plans I made, when the reality is I can make all the plans I want to, even for the right reasons, but they may not always coincide with what He has in mind.
If plans change, it is not necessarily because of human error, nor is it because God changed his mind. For me, I believe God is in effect saying "Thank you so much for what you have done, but I think I'll take it from here."
I can not see the whole scope of what God will do here from beginning to end. I only know that I move forward one step at a time knowing that God is in charge of those steps. The path I start on may not be the path that God wants me to go on, so He guides my feet in another direction.
This excursion began with beautiful rural farms, spring blossoming in every nook and cranny. Each step of the 112 miles we have already traveled was a sight to behold. But when I got past the beauty of what I was seeing, I realized what I wasn't seeing. I wasn't seeing homeless people. It did not meant that they didn't exist. It meant that there were no shelters for them and they had found other places to go. If you'll be patient with me for just a moment, I will explain that.
"Okay God. This is your baby. Put in my path the people you mean for me to talk to. Guide my steps along the path you want me walk on, not the one I chose." It was a simple prayer. It was all it needed to be. I said the words and God absolutely took it from there.
As you know we have been staying at a rest stop in the town of Marysville, Washington. Yesterday morning I began a conversation with a woman who was putting on her make-up. I am not sure how it came about that she told me this, I only know the conversation turned to the homeless.
She happened to be from Vancouver, B.C. and was traveling for the weekend. "My husband and I had to get away. Sometimes I think we shouldn't go back but then where would we go. It's the same everywhere I think. We had the Olympics so we aren't as bad as it is here in America, but it's coming. The government made a change in medical care. Now so many of the mentally ill, who are Schizophrenic and bi-polar and others, are now being denied the meds they need so badly. The government raised the bar so if you can cope at this many milligrams, you don;t need the meds. Then they are loose on the street."
"On Wednesday, we came home to our neighbors house having burned down to the ground. The old lady burned to death. Her son who was one of those who needed the meds, didn't get them. He went crazy. He barricaded his mom in the house and then set it on fire. He admitted he stood there watching her pounding on the windows to get out. He just stood there and did nothing. The thing is, it could have been prevented. He needed the meds and the government said no you don't. You're fine without them."
I eventually got around to asking her about the lack of homeless. "I know they are there. I have been through the city many times and seen them. Why are there only a handful now? You guys must be doing something right up there." I really wanted to know. I felt we could learn from them. Her answer was not what I expected.
"Oh we have them alright. We have hundreds, probably more. I work across the street from a homeless shelter. It used to be that I could walk out my office door and there they'd be. Some of them shooting up. Some of them already drunk. Some of them looking a bit lost."
"Then we had the Olympics, and I guess the government sent them away. They put them up in a few townhouses for the duration. I guess they didn't want the public to know that we had homeless people here. But that failed. There are the hardcore homeless. Do you know what I mean?"
"I do." I told here what I was doing and finished by saying, "I know we will never end homelessness. There will always be the hardcore's, but even the hardcore's need to eat. They need medical care, clothes, even food for their animals."
"I suppose your right, but it bothers me that they live off of us, off of the government."
"You know this can be said about any race, any religion, including Christianity, even the homeless, but there are the select few, that give the rest a bad name. But do we not help any because of the few? There are those who living in the streets that genuinely don't want to be there. Do we give up on them because of the minority that do want to be there?"
"But what can we do if the government won't help?" she asked me.
I gave her a flyer which led her to the website and this blog. "There's plenty we can do. 85% of all homeless shelters are donation based. Because of the recession, donations are down. I'm not saying don't give to the panhandlers. What I am saying is give to the shelters. The more we donate, the more homeless they can help, including the ones who need the meds and have no way of getting them."
I don't want to get preachy here. You all know by know how I feel about helping our neighbors when they need our help, and whether we want to accept them, the homeless are part of our community and therefore our neighbors. If you do nothing else...PLEASE...listen to them. Listen to their stories. There is always a story behind every face. Always.
I am just one person. I can not do it alone, but I am trusting that God will in fact lead me down the other brick road to the people I am meant to share this information with. Those are the people that will share this with their friends who will share it with their friends. The domino effect only instead of knocking this over, we will knock homeless out of the ball park.