Tuesday, February 1, 2011

16th and Island – Chapter 3 - Somewhere Else at a Mandatory Party (Part 3)

This is a true story - some names have been changed. This post is a day late, but I've had bronchitus!

Mona was waiting for us out in front of the Lower Campus Chapel. She showed us our seats, and while waiting for dinner to be served, we made small talk with professors and staff members who had worked at the college when we were both students ten years ago.  I managed to accidentally (not knowing who I was talking to) complement the school’s president wife on her ballet-style shoes. Pete whispered to me who she was afterwards. So far, so good! No one can tell we had just been fighting.  
Sitting at the table with Mona and her other guests, my thoughts kept wandering to Jeb, and I tried to focus on chit-chatting with her and her interesting menagerie of friends she had invited. Mona was the type of lady who knew all her friends and neighbors, and their children and pets as well, by name.  Normally, I would have been delighted to talk to her ninety –year old neighbor who loved cats, the middle age woman whose husband couldn’t be there because he was busy running his Italian restaurant, and the older couple who used to be missionaries in Mexico City. I picked at the mashed potatoes and rosemary green beans, which were objectively quite delicious, and discretely gave Pete most of my rib-eye steak and chocolate cake roll. I wonder if Jeb and Susan have any food to eat tonight! How can we just sit here enjoying ourselves when there are starving children in our own city? But my answer to Mona’s missionary friends who asked, “Isn’t this food just wonderful?” was “Yes, the rosemary green beans are to die for”. I feel so alone in this crowded room.
After dinner, the students performed various modern worship songs along with some classical Christmas music. Vision, the school’s traveling singing group, sang the hauntingly melancholy song about Mary the mother of Jesus, “Breathe of Heaven”. I choked back tears at the lines “Breathe of Heaven, Hold me Together, Be Forever Near Me, Breathe of Heaven. Breathe of Heaven, Lighten my darkness, Pour over me your Holiness, for You are forever Holy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgVBPsYVljM. Hold me together and help me trust in You to lead Pete to make the right decision, like Steve always is trying to tell me.
            As soon as we got home, I breathed a sigh of relief from not having to pretend anymore. “Pete, what if there isn’t an opening at the shelter tomorrow? What do we do then? Can you at least pray about considering letting them stay here a few nights until we figure something out?”
            “And what would we do with them after a few days? Dump them back on the street? I still don’t think it is a good idea for them to stay with us – we don’t know why they are homeless. . .”
            “Yes we do! Susan told us – they came out here looking for work, and they were robbed, and the government is taking its sweet time to help them!” I interrupted. “Why do you have to be so cynical?” I stopped myself. “But I’ll let you make the final decision about all of this.”
            “How can I make the final decision if I know that my decision will make you really mad at me? And that we might be fighting about it until Christmas?! We haven’t disagreed so strongly about something in a really long time!” Pete sounded almost frantic.
            Which is why it is almost impossible to let you make this final decision! But I have to trust God.  “Okay, you’re right, I might be a little mad at first, just because I can’t stand the thought of them being on the streets. But I’ll get over it long before Christmas. Whatever decision you make, just make sure you really are seeking God about it, though.” Pete looked visibly relieved.
            “Thanks babe, I can actually think now. I will pray about it. You know what we could do,” Pete sounded excited, “we could pay for them to be in a hotel room for a few nights!”
            “I guess we could! You wouldn’t mind spending the money? We could afford it – it would mean putting off paying down our medical debt until February, but a little boy’s life is more important!”
            “No, I don’t mind the money at all – I thought you wouldn’t want to spend it!”
            “Oh thank God, maybe that is our answer if the shelter doesn’t have an opening!”
             I looked for several hours online trying to find a decent hotel or motel or hostel that they could stay in a few nights. Anything under 50$ a night had terrible reviews, like the Pacific Coast Motel. “Bed bugs ate me up all night – would never consider going there again.” The San Diego Hostel said, “Kids are welcome, but people are up all night partying and they may not feel comfortable.”
            “This idea is just not working Pete. We can only afford to get them off the street into a decent place for only night or two, or we can put them up in a place almost as bad as the streets for a three or four nights. I think there must be a better way we can spend our money to help them more in the long run.”
            But it was midnight, so we agreed to sleep on it and pray that the shelter from Vista had an opening.


  1. This is so well-written Andrea. I'm so glad you're getting this story out.


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