Friday, February 5, 2016

The Difference a Child Can Make

                                              `A glimpse into the life of a homeless man`

For better or for worse children notice things.  They notice and they speak up.  I’m sure all parents have hilarious stories of how their children spoke up in a public place and commented loudly about something that the parent would just as soon happily ignore.  If I started giving examples from my own children we may never move on to what I actually want to share.

On Monday morning, on the way to the bus stop, I noticed something bright orange near the highway exit. As I got closer I realized it was a man sitting on the side of the road.  I could only see the back of him, but his location concerned me.  It looked like he could be easily hit if a driver were to turn the corner without paying much attention.

After I dropped off my girls that attend school Lucy and I headed home.  (Lucy is homeschooling for this semester.) As we drove home together I would have definitely been content to ignore that man sitting on the side of the road, but Lucy expressed concern for him and asked me if I had seen him. We discussed this for a bit and she said that she wanted to help him.  At home she got to work making him a sack lunch. I went to look for a bible that I thought might be homeless person friendly….not too big,  in good shape and a version that someone may be more inclined to read.  I did in fact find one that fit the bill. I also pondered what  to give the man to drink.  It was a cold morning, 52 degrees if I remember right. I thought maybe he would appreciate some hot coffee, but then I wasn’t sure if he would want creamer and sugar to go with it. So, I ended up settling on cold water in a clean water bottle. I wrote a short note of encouragement and stuck it in the bible, Lucy grabbed the sack lunch and we headed back out the door to go pass it all on to the man in the orange beanie.

As we neared the place that we had originally spotted the man we couldn’t see him.  Lucy asked where I thought he might be.  I drove through the gas station that was located across from where he had been sitting and turned around to head home. Lucy did not want to go home without finding the man, but I didn’t know what to do, because I had no idea where he went. He could have hitched a ride and been on his way to Dallas for all I knew.  To appease Lucy I turned around again and began to loop through the gas station once more. Then we spotted him again.  While we had been turning around he had been walking out the gas station door.

We pulled up next to him in the parking lot, said hello and Lucy gave him the lunch she made him.  I began to offer him the bible, but he eyed it with hesitation.  I held back and said he was welcome to it, but he didn’t have to take it if he didn’t want to. He asked me if I wanted him to speak into why he hesitated to take the bible. I said something like, “Sure, if you want to, but you don’t have to. “

And so my long conversation with Ryan began…it covered the kindness of strangers, the church, casinos, living on the streets, Obama phones, 3 hot meals a day (and why Ryan thought that needed to end), how his life used to be, the death of a friend, the signs that homeless people write and more. I also got to pray with Ryan and he did in fact want to take the bible before we parted ways.

Oh, and Ryan expressed such gratitude for Lucy making him lunch.  Also, it turns out that coffee is not his favorite and water was just right. He especially liked the water bottle.

I’m so thankful that Lucy not only noticed Ryan on the side of the road, but she was moved to action.