This is a true story about a homeless family Pete and I know. Some of the names have been changed
Friday morning, I woke thinking about Jeb’s sweet brown eyes and how grateful he was for some water and a pair of woman’s gloves. I thought of the way that he was playing with that red foxish looking dog, smiling as sunnily as if he were Jeff Miller playing with his dog Lassie, not a child living in his car who happened to know a homeless man with a mutt. Tears had evaded me the night before, but they came in full force now.
“What do we do about Susan and Jeb? That child does not belong on 16th and Island!” I said aloud, partly to myself, partly to God. (Pete was already gone – he had dragged his tired, hardworking body to open Starbucks at 4 am. Besides teaching adjunct Bible classes at two different colleges, he worked thirty hour weeks at Starbucks so I could work part-time and concentrate on trying to overcome infertility.) I wiped my eyes, blew my nose and tried to start my day.
Of course the first logical thing to do was to call my best friend Beth. I told her about Susan and Jeb and how I woke up thinking about them, and her wise advice was to distract myself. So I made grand plans for the day to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer, decorate the Christmas tree, deep clean for the party we were having for Pete’s discipleship class the following Wednesday, primp for the banquet at the college that evening, and send off our remaining Christmas cards. I opened the bookmark in my Bible to my place in 2 Corinthians chapter 8, the same passage we were going through in church that Sunday. It was about the poverty-stricken Macedonian church’s sacrificial giving. “Okay God, so what are you saying? How can we afford to get them off the street? How will we meet our goal to pay off all our medical debt this year? Even if we could afford it, how do we go about it? I don’t even know where to start!” I prayed aloud.
Before Pete got home at noon, all I had managed to distract myself with was calligraphying the addresses on three Christmas cards, doing the dishes, and cooking Pete a fried-egg sandwich for lunch. I had spent the rest of the time posting on facebook asking prayer for Susan and Jeb, and imaging Susan and Jeb to be some modern day Joab family from of the Grapes of Wrath. The similarities are eerie – even down to the way they came from a small town to California looking for work, only to be cruelly let down. I’m sure they wouldn’t be sleeping in their car if they had a better option – I bet all the shelters are full. Maybe we should let them stay with us for a few days until we find them an opening somewhere. But Pete will never go for that – not after what happened with Wanda’s family. And I need to let him take a nap before bombarding him with all of this! Two months before, a schizophrenic lady Marlene who attends our church had been brainwashed by an insane homeless Jehovah Witness man. Marlene had to be hospitalized after a complete nervous breakdown. This homeless man, who was considered cultic by even mainstream Jehovah Witnesses, had been invited to live with Wanda’s family by her daughter’s boyfriend. I had been discipling Marlene, trying to undo some of the spiritual deception that this evil man had inflicted on her fragile mind. (But that is another story!)
Stay tuned next Monday for the continuation of "16th and Island- Somewhere Else at a Mandatory Party"