Location: Oregon, United States

Friday, January 05, 2007

Work Adventures. William

Item 1. Love. Every week at HomePlate, a different group comes in to prepare and serve the meal. The groups vary between church groups, people from different places of work, or random volunteers found over the internet via a service like Craigslist. One week a while back, there was a group from an Alaskan Airlines susidiary that came. I ended up sitting down with a few of them at one point and discussing the various reasons youth become homeless. It was an awesome discussion and I came away from it feeling like they had really grasped the plight that many of these youth face. One woman in particular was very touched and promised to approach another group she was involved in to see if they would like to come and prepare a meal as well.

Last week was the week her group came. They are a Buddist non-profit organization that provides relief worldwide and most of the members from this chapter are immigrants from Taiwan. When I arrived, they had set the tables using beautiful blue tablecloths with a small vase of flowers on each one. The food they had made smelled wonderful and tasted even better - vegetarian Chinese dishes - and the youth were very appreciative. In addition, they had brought some basic supplies like socks and underwear and to top it all off: hand knit scarves (representing over a year's worth of work).

This was an utterly overwhelming experience for me. I had to leave the room a couple of times just to weep. I'm still trying to place what is was that moved me so. Was it that everyone there was of Chinese descent? (In case you don't know me, I love China and had planned to move there at one point.) Was it the way they expressed their sincere love for these kids? It was palpable. Could it be that where there is love, there is God's presence and that was what was so moving? In any case, the youth knew they were loved, they felt it and it was beautiful.

Item 2. Close call. My co-worker (Lisa) and I went to check on one of our clients who lives under a bridge next to a river. When we got there, the first thing I noticed was that his bike was there. Then, as I got further down the hill, I noticed that the water had risen quite a bit and that his chair was now in about 6 - 8 inches of water. In addition, there were several tarps stacked up near the water's edge that were about to be swamped as well. This fellow usually leaves his site in good order, putting everything away before he leaves, so this was unsettling. I called his name several times but there was no answer so we presumed he was gone. Then we debated about whether to move his chair and tarps for him. I went further under the bridge and looked up to where his sleeping bag was and nearly jumped out of my skin - he was still in there, not moving (dead?)! No, wait - was he? I couldn't see very well as it was very dim. But as I backed out, I realized that what I had thought was his head was really a canvas bag. I know in a very theoretical sense that in this line of work, some of my clients will die. But I just don't want to be the one that finds them. Slightly reminiscent of the time we found the dead guy up in the Boundary Waters... but that's another story...

Item 3. Closer call. After HomePlate the other night, we were putting the trash out in the bin at the back of the church when a man came walking along in the alley/parking lot. He confronted us, thinking that we were "ruffians", and asked us to move away from the door of the church, saying that he is the self-appointed guardian of the church. Then he began to quote the scripture "Choose you this day whether you will live or die" and put his hand in his pocket. At that moment, I thought for sure he had a weapon. Then I wondered what the right answer was to his question - if we chose "life", did that mean eternal life? As in death? And if we chose "death" did that mean actual, physical death, or spiritual death, which could mean life? So I began to unlock my cellphone in my pocket, just in case I needed to dial 911. Fortunately, this guy was only crazy, not violent, and after he was done with his sermonette and conspiracy theory linkages of the Hebrew language to numerology, we were free to go. Yikes.

William had his last dose of prednisone (steroids) today. This is worthy of a celebration. We have tried to wean him off twice already, but he would begin to feel awful again within just a couple days. This time, the medicine that he is receiving intravenously is working. He is chubby again, which looks great on him, especially since I know he will need some extra pounds to burn if/when he has another bout of illness. So celebrate with us!


Blogger ~kelemira of gondor said...

Yay for William! (and tell everybody i say hi!)

u found a dead guy in the boundry waters?! creepy!


cant wait for summer!

4:07 PM  

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