Thursday, September 25, 2008
Shaky. They call him Shaky because he has Parkinson's disease and often has seizures. The other night he had four seizures before dawn. Usually, Shaky gets around by dragging himself on the ground with his arms, last night was the first time I saw him standing up. He's six four. He has a bag that he carries everywhere and last night he was going through it getting rid of things he felt he didn't need. It's strange to think of a homeless man being interested in getting rid of anything that might be of excess. He pulled out a brand new set of oil pastels. "Someone blessed me with this paint, but I can't paint. I shake too much." He was asking around to see if anyone wanted his paint. It was too heavy for his bag but he refused to throw it away. "I was blessed with it so now I have to bless someone else with it," he studdered.
Lewie. He's a Buddhist that's fluent in Spanish. A Mexican walked up to him and asked him if he had any spare sleeping bags because he has nothing but sand to cover himself with at night. Lewie pulled out his jacket from his bag and gave it to him.
Gator. Not sure while they call him Gator. He was jamming on the guitar that a friend let him borrow for an hour. He was singing a song he wrote about how he woke up with thoughts of suicide until an angel came to him and gave him Jesus. "Since that day, I've loved Jesus," he said.
Derek. Derek hitch-hiked all the way from Portland, Oregon. Actually he hitch-hiked until he got to California and then a cop told him it was illegal to hitch-hike in California. He obeyed and walked all the way down to Santa Barbara. His boots were falling apart until one day a man walked up to him, took off his shoes and gave them to him, then walked off in just his socks. This past week a little boy walked up to him and said, "Mister, if I had 100 dollars...I'd give it to you." A few minutes later that little boy ran back and handed him the only thing he had, a little toy car. Now Derek uses that car to keep his money from blowing away, while he begs. He said that he always sees children tugging on their parents arm saying "Daddy, give that man some money," but the parent keeps walking. "Kids are the hope for the future," he said.
Screaming Eagle. He's a full blooded Apache Indian that makes jewelry out of rocks and wire. Two weeks ago he needed to sell just one piece of jewelry so that he could wash his pants and be able to show up to a job interview the next day. He didn't sell anything so he couldn't wash his pants and he was too embarrassed to show up to the job interview. He's still jobless. Yesterday he handed me one of his necklaces and told me to give it to "my girl." I told him I didn't have any money but I'd bring some next week to buy it from him. His friend confronted me, "Why can't you accept a gift from a brother? Money doesn't mean sh*t to us. It's the thought that counts. It's the thought."
Money isn't the currency among their circle. It's love. It's oil pastel. It's an angel. It's a thought. It's a toy car and a tug on the arm. Not one of them would admit they're poor.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Check this out.
It kills me that I can't make it to this since I'll be traveling this day. I was a volunteer and all set to go, but had to bail. If you're able to make it to this, get some friends to go with you and have some fun!
Then tell me all about it.
Kids Klash are a great way to help younger kids connect with the lives of their global peers. Many of the kids on the surgery waiting list are between the ages of 1 and 6—the same age range that will be able to enjoy wearing Kids Klash. When a child has the chance to wear a great handmade shoe, it provides an opportunity to teach them about the wider world and the challenges of poverty and conflict faced by kids like them around the world. It’s not quite walking a kilometer in someone else’s shoes, but it’s at least a start.
Kids Klash don’t just help build perspective—they make a real difference, too. These shoes are handmade over the course of 20 hours per pair by village cooperatives, by prisoners seeking to rehabilitate their lives, and by victims of landmines seeking a living wage. Each purchase invests money in their economy. And, even more, each purchase helps to fund a heart surgery for one of the 3,000 Iraqi children waiting for the chance to live.
With a lower price (only $25!) and a more kid-friendly rubber sole (water and washing are no problem now), Kids Klash are a perfect way to change lives and save lives.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Both are going extremely well but that also means that I'm doing everything I can just to keep up! Last night I took the junior highers down to Santa Barbara to bring food to the homeless. We brought 30 sandwiches and forty hot dogs and it wasn't nearly enough! This is something I started taking them to a few weeks ago and it's something I'm hoping will rub off on these kids. One of my goals is to expose them to as much of this lifestyle as I possibly can and then once they reach high school, have them exposed to the rest of the world and give them the chance to go overseas for a few months. Basically, we're doing everything we can to mess these kids up and challenge them in ways no one's challenged them in the past 13 or 14 years. We have our work cut out for us.
It's been amazing to see the effects in just a few weeks. You can take a glance at some pictures from the park here. Our Wednesday nights are called "Mandate", if you're ever in the area and want to come, just let me know!
You can also check out Velocity, our junior high youth group here.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
It was just a few months ago that I got back from Iraq and soon after I returned, Michelle followed me back so that we could get engaged and start a life together. That said, we all knew it was coming sooner or later. Michelle had me cornered and knew that I was probably going to come out this past weekend. How'd she know? Those of you that know Michelle will laugh right about now because you'll agree that she's the most organized and "on the ball" type person we all know. Since she's always a couple steps ahead of everybody, it makes it tough to catch her by surprise. But I did...kind of.
She was confident I'd be out sometime Saturday. That assumption was fine with me. On Friday, she agreed to spend the entire day with her close friend who's getting married this upcoming weekend. They spent the day taking care of last minute preparations for her wedding. Meanwhile, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. on Friday to begin my stealthy descent into Dallas. She was learning how to bustle a wedding dress. I was boarding my plane. She was having lunch. I was running through the Phoenix airport. She was shopping. I was landing at Dallas-Ft. Worth International airport.
With the help of her parents I got from the airport to a shower then to the Dallas Arboretum. (Large botanical gardens in case you don't know what an "Arboretum" is....I didn't.) This was the place where her friend was getting married. At 3:45 I paid my seven dollars and ran to a bench waiting for me under this beautiful awning overlooking the beautiful arboretum. At 4:03, Michelle entered the gardens. Her friend was giving her a quick rundown of what the ceremony was going to look like and where the guests were going to be coming from.
Meanwhile, I was sitting on the bench just looking at the ring. I kept going through all the things I wanted to say to her but each time I did it came out different. I couldn't help smiling the whole time as I was imagining her walking around the corner and seeing me on the bench.
I walked her down the stairs and we ended up going on a stroll through the arboretum to go to a spot overlooking the lake. We found a bench and I gave her an awkward one-armed embrace while my other one nervously searched for the ring in my right pocket. I looked at her and said everything I wanted to say to her in a completely different manner in which I had practiced, got down on one knee and asked her to marry me.
We laughed a lot, smiled a lot. Then we hopped in the car and she followed directions I had printed out to our next location. We ended up right in downtown Dallas and we walked into her friend's sister's apartment building. Her friend ran down and escorted us up several flights of stairs before we came out onto a beautiful terrace overlooking the skyline. Thanks to the enormous help of another one of Michelle's friends, there was a beautiful table for two set up covered with roses and take out Chinese food, everything resembling our first date on top of a roof top in Iraq.
We enjoyed Chinese, danced to our favorite songs, laughed some more and enjoyed the sun setting on the skyline.
We're thrilled to be engaged and are even more excited to be getting married sometime in the Spring!