Today we did something as a family that I've wanted to do for a long time...volunteer in downtown Dallas with the homeless community. Our church goes one Sunday a month and helps with the church service in the inner city, and afterward we serve the community a hot meal. I wanted to spend a few minutes writing about our experience there, because it is something that while we plan to continue doing and getting actively involved with, this first visit is one that I won't ever forget.
When we got there, we weren't sure what to expect. There were police in the parking lot to ensure the safety of our vehicles, and we were made aware that there was a "bouncer" of sorts standing at the back of the room if anyone got too rough.
There were a couple of things I wanted to point out to myself mainly...so I won't forget. There was a woman sitting two rows in front of us. She was wearing a hoodie with it up over her head...I never saw her face...but she had some kind of affliction that caused her to scratch her head a lot. On her hands she wore the hospital socks that they give you...you know, the bright yellow and green kind with the traction on the bottoms of them? I was watching her...just trying to absorb where we were, and understand the people we had come to worship with and serve...
Eli and Norman helped serve communion. It was Eli's first time to do this, and I was super proud of him. For him to do this in an unfamiliar place with people he did not know or understand and were probably even a little scary to him was a big deal. But during the offering, in which not many people gave, because most were homeless and were there for the meal, the woman in the hoodie, with the socks on her hand gave a handful of change in the offering plate.
This may not make any sense to anyone reading this, but we usually worship in a nice building where everyone dresses nicely for service...they don't come in hungry...the kids are well dressed, and we have all had the luxuries of a morning shower, hot coffee or tea, and we slept in our warm comfy beds...all of that. On the way to service this morning, we were driving by places under the overpasses where homeless slept, and then to have them smile at us...welcome us in to their congregation...extend warmth to us when they have every reason to dislike us for the fact that our lives are "easy" and theirs are beyond hard...it's humbling. It's even more humbling when you see someone with literally hospital socks on her hands giving the last of what she probably had, when I don't do that. Who does do that? Most of us budget...try to be responsible. But she had nothing and gave what I assume is all she had. I could be wrong. But it was such a strong moment for me that I nearly burst into tears. I can't explain it. But being in the presence of that group of people made me realize that I am abundantly blessed, and that we need to donate more to this particular ministry. Norman and I have been discussing it for awhile, but today we just reaffirmed our commitment to this cause.
Eli and I will be doing this as part of his homeschooling humanities class, and we will do weekly shopping trips to try to build bags that we can give to the people when we serve next time. One man had an extra pair of shoes in his car, and he ended up giving them to a man who needed new shoes. This makes me look at shopping in a whole new light. Next time I see something super on sale that we don't need but could easily afford, I am going to buy it. I'm going to try to encourage the boys to constantly be thinking about what we can do for the people we met today.
There is so much need in our area...it can be overwhelming, and I know we can't make a difference for everybody. But we can make a difference for somebody...for a few somebody's. And that's my goal. Because today wasn't enough. Some parts of today made me feel uneasy, but that is always the case when you step out of your comfort zone. I want to do more. Eli and I need to make a plan on what we can do during the week to do more. Today was a great starting point, and I hope that we can be a blessing in the future to those whom we met today.