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As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Today was payday. God’s Timing is Perfect.

Today was payday.  Sadly, I had an unexpected bill that absolutely had to be paid today.  The total of it was 77% of my paycheck.  Ouch!

If I allowed it to do so, this financial frustration could have caused me to stay home and lay around on the thin mattress of my remaining funds.  I chose instead to make a trip to Kensington.  What better way to cheer myself up than come alongside men and women whose struggles are more than you and I will ever understand. 

I’m glad I did.

I’m glad I did, not so I could compare my frustration with their suffering but rather so I could receive the awesome blessings that come from people who have nothing more to give than a smile and a sparkle in their Faith-filled eyes, or the genuine nature of their handshake, fist bump or hug.  

My first stop was Prevention Point to look for two people I’ve not seen in a while.  Neither one was there.  I try not to be worried when I don’t see someone who has shared so much of their story with me over these couple of years but I do…

From there, I drove to the “Last Stop” very near the intersection of Kensington and Summerset.  Men and women who I’ve known for various lengths of time greeted me as I shared bananas, water, and song sheets.  

Whenever someone asks for two or more bananas, I always ask if they are asking for more because they find them ‘appealing.’  We laugh and then I point out that to the best of my knowledge, that’s the only banana joke out there…

Sometimes they laugh and say “Yes.”  Other times they say “No. I’m pregnant” Or “No. I need them for my children at home.”

It’s in a moment like that when the 23% that remains available from my current paycheck for the next two weeks gets put into quick perspective.

God’s Timing is Perfect

If I had not stopped at Prevention Point when I did and if I had not done each little thing leading up to my next story in these following paragraphs, what I'm about to tell you might not have happened…   

I was chatting with a couple of men who I’ve met before.  They were sharing with me their latest news on possible housing.  I glanced up the steps that lead to “The El” there at Summerset Station.  Of all the people to be walking down them and using crutches to do so, is the man I’d been talking to just before the shooting that occurred a bit to close to me a couple weeks ago.  He was just returning from a few days in the hospital.  He looked relatively great having gotten cleaned up and tended to for what had been ailing him increasingly so for weeks.
As I mentioned before, this man likes to call a particular member of "Angels In Motion" a wonderful outreach group that visits on a regular basis.  We made that phone call while this man sat in the front seat of my car while I continued to share bananas, water, and song sheets.  It wasn’t long before the pieces were coming together for this man to be taken by the person he called for a trip to “The Net” a place where people go to be screened and processed for admission to any one of several detox/rehabs scattered throughout the city primarily for people reliant on Medicaid.

I saw this man making his way down “The El’s” steps on his crutches about 1:00 pm.  It’s now 9:15 pm and I have just learned in the middle of this sentence that he has just now been approved and cleared for placement somewhere in The City of Brotherly Love “sometime in the next 72 hours.”  That is three days!!!  Three days of waiting!!!

Between now and then, he’s in a holding pattern, something like a plane circling a foggy airport, waiting for the fog to clear and hoping not to run out of fuel (determination to stick with his plan).  The plane running out of fuel in this analogy and this man running out of determination to see his plan through will lead to the same result, a crashed plane and a postponed hope for a new future being right around the corner.

In the midst of all of this, 

There was the moment when a street bound daughter asked me to text her Mom and tell her that she loves her very much and may have an injury that needs medical attention.  Her plan was to go to the nearby hospital after she earns[1] $10.00 to buy and inject her medicine.

There was the couple who wanted me to know that they were moving to their Pathways to Housing apartment next week.  They promised to let me know where and when so that I can visit.

There was the group of men who would intimidate a suburbanite as they clustered around me asking for bananas in multiples…  “Why?  Do you ALL find them appealing."  They laughed.


My blogs don’t always have a conclusion.  There’s a reason for that... 

As you read these last words, these stories from the streets continue whether I’m there to witness them or not.  

Each person mentioned is still there, ‘earning” funds to support their medicinal needs, trying to figure out how to feed their children, feeling desperately lonely, wondering if their arm is broken, being rained on with no way to dry off, being told to move from where they had hoped to lay for the rest of the night, wondering if they will see the next sunrise, missing their family, wondering why and “How will I…” and…….

[1] Please read between the lines to realize what "earns" means here.

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