Monday, February 7, 2011

16th and Island - Chapter 4 - Operation Hope (Part One)

This is a true story about a homeless family Pete and I met this Christmas. Some of the names have been changed.
    We woke up early for a Saturday morning- at 8 a.m, that is. I called the shelter in Vista, “Operation Hope”, praying, Please let there be room in the inn! The lady I spoke to, Tanya, said they did have an opening, and that it was a perfect place for a mother and children as only women and families with children were allowed, and there was a school and job training. As long as she was could pass a drug test, there would be no problem in admitting them that evening. I assured her that Susan was not on drugs. She said to have Susan call the shelter’s supervisor, Russ, and ask any questions she might have.
 Thank you Lord! I started dancing around the room. Pete, who had heard the conversation on my battered cell phone which only worked on speaker phone, grabbed me and kissed me. “That is such a relief! We can go talk to them this morning, and I can drive them up there before work. I don’t have to be there until 2:30. I don’t want you to have to drive them to Vista by yourself when we’ve been having so much car trouble lately,” Pete said.
“God is so good! We should probably go now, don't you think, so there will be enough time? You don't mind not having bacon and eggs this morning like I promised, do you?"
"No, there's no time to worry about that today, my Angel. We should just grab some cereal and  go" 
 "But wait - I just thought of something – what if she doesn’t want to leave her car in downtown and go all the way to Vista? I would, if it meant somewhere for me and my little boy to sleep, but she may not feel that way.” I replied.
“Good point. We could use the money that we were going to use on a hotel to tow her car somewhere safe.”
“That’s true – we could do that! Your brilliant! But wait – I just thought of something else. What if she doesn’t trust us enough to drive her and her son all the way to Vista? I mean, she could think we were trying to kidnap her or something.”
“Yeah, good point. Well, we can make the offer – the decision will be up to her.”
“I guess we will have to try to win her over like we did the women who were going to have abortions when we used to go sidewalk counseling. I should probably be the one to talk to her – she might respond better to a woman. And we should write her a note with my cell phone number and the number of the shelter in Vista, with some change, to leave on her car in case she isn’t there.”
“Well, let’s pray.’ Pete grabbed my hands. “Dear Father, please let us be able to find Susan and Jeb, and let Susan want to go to Vista so she and Jeb can be off the street.”
“And Lord, please give us wisdom in what to say, and help me be gentle and sensitive so that I can convince her that she should take the placement in Vista and not stay living in their car. In Jesus name, Amen”.
I wrote the note explaining the shelter in Vista and wrapped some quarters in a pair of socks to leave on her dashboard so she would be able to call us and the shelter while Pete checked the oil in the car and got the number for a tow company near 16th and Island.
The drive downtown, which was only 20 minutes, seemed like 3 hours. I kept rehearsing in my head what I would say to her, praying repeatedly for God to give me the right words. When we got to the corner of 16th and Island, my heart sank. Their red suburban was gone.           
“After all this, all our fighting, and praying, and hoping, I can’t believe they aren’t even here!” I exclaimed in frustration. “Well, I hope they are ok.”
“Pretty ironic,” Pete laughed.


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