Helping The Homeless

January 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

Following up on my previous Helping The Homeless post

This afternoon I stopped by to spend some time with my newest acquaintance, J-Man (as our mutual friend has nicknamed him).  I delivered a couple more propane bottles and instructed J-Man not to worry about conserving them — because he was going to need it this week.  I watched the expression on his face change from joy (from receiving more propane) to disappointment as I delivered the weather report for the week.

I figured two bottles of propane would last his Little Buddy Heater two nights as I intended on seeing him again Wednesday to deliver two more bottles.  J-Man welcomed that news but I quietly loathed the idea of him spending several nights in sub-freezing temperatures.  I knew that others were looking to find housing for him during the cold (based on his conversation) but I didn’t know what they would come up with, since I’m not aware of any shelters in the immediate area.

I asked J-Man if he’d eaten today and he acknowledged he had — but it had been a while and he was hungry.  I offered to buy him dinner, to which he agreed, but he seemed uncomfortable when I asked if he’d like to come with me to get it.  He somewhat reluctantly agreed and we hopped in my vehicle and headed to a local restaurant he selected.

J-Man has this timid demeanor when interacting with other people — an obvious lack of confidence about himself that makes him appear shy and talk softly.  The cashier had trouble understanding him (for no other reason than he spoke very softly) and he had to repeat his order a couple of times.  When she asked him if that was all, he gave me this inquisitive look to which I replied, “Whatever you want, man.”  He ordered exactly what I would have, and nothing more.  Although I was fully prepared to buy two, ten or who-knows-how-many times more should he have wanted it.

As soon as he received his meal, he headed for the door.  I questioned if he wanted to stay inside and his answer relayed that he wasn’t comfortable eating here.  So we headed back to his tent, where it was not quite as warm and didn’t smell nearly as nice.  I sat with him while he ate and we talked.  (I would have eaten with him, but I’m on this crazy diet I’ll blog about at a later date…)

J-Man earnestly asked me how my day was, specifically work.  I paused as I opened my mouth, stopped and just laughed.  He wanted to know what I thought was funny.  I told him, “You honestly asked me how my day (at work) went and here I am about to complain about this, that or the other thing and you’re where you are now because you lost your job and haven’t had one since.  Clearly I’m not thankful for what I’ve been blessed with.”  He paused eating while I said that and when I finished simply replied with an audible “Hrrmm” sound.

I felt awful.  I’m sure the look on my face showed it.

It was quiet for a moment before J-Man changed the subject and continued to tell me about being hopeful and knowing God was was blessing him with the company of people he didn’t know bringing just what he needed.  He told me again about knowing that that “something big” was going to happen soon — he could just feel it.  All I could do was smile; Amazed that someone in his situation has a seemingly unlimited amount of hope.

I could use some of that hope.

As I was leaving, I thought about that and how oddly familiar my efforts to make a difference in helping someone in need has, in turn, helped me.  I remembered a couple of different mission trips I had taken in years past and how I felt I was on this great humanitarian crusade to help change lives when in the end, I believe it was my life that was changed most.  And maybe, that’s what’s happening here.

UPDATE 2014-01-22:
Because I’m lazy and this is a back-dated post, I’ve got a bit more information to share.  The friend that originally told me about J-Man texted to let me know he found a not-so-local church that had opened its doors to those in need of shelter and they committed to allowing J-Man to stay for the next five nights!

Aaron Melton

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