About a month ago, the Revolution Hawaii team did random acts of kindness at the mall. A few people held doors for people and greeted them when they entered and a few gave out free hugs. If you know me at all, you know that I love hugs so I was on the free hugs team. We started in the food court and held up our free hugs sign. We weren’t very successful and even got a talk from a security guard telling us that we couldn’t do this here. So, we decided we would do it at the bottom of the escalator in the mall. Some people would smile and laugh at us, some would completely ignore us, but some would go in for the hug. We were able to give a lot of hugs. Unfortunately another security guard told us that if they had to tell us that we weren’t allowed to do it there again, we would be kicked out of the mall. So, we stopped giving hugs at the mall, but went across the street to the beach to give hugs before it was time to go.
Now that you know that, I can move on with my story. A few weeks ago, on Sabbath I was supposed to go with a few teammates to meet up with one of the guys that was about to graduate from the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC). But, last minute I decided not to. While I was sitting there reading, John and I started to talk a bit, and then we’d go back to what we were doing. We were listening to Jesus Culture while we were sitting there doing our work, sometimes between writing and reading we would just start singing. During one of our talks, John started to talk to me about how his grandpa just lost his best friend of over 50 years. It made him think about if he would’ve lost his grandpa, which made me think about if I would’ve lost mine. We sat there and cried realizing how much we take our families for granted. I’ve always been grateful for a wonderful family, but it really hit me hard at this time. After we finished what we needed to do, I called my mom and John called his. When I was done talking to her, I went into the apartment to ask John if he still wanted to go to the ARC. To be honest, I thought he’d think it was too late and not want to go…but I asked anyway and he said yes. So, at about 4:30pm we took the bus to the ARC.
As soon as we got close to the ARC, we saw a beneficiary from the center. He had all his bags with him, and he told us that he got kicked out. We stood there and prayed for him, helped him bring his bags to the bus stop, and let him use my phone to get someone to pick him up. After he made arrangements, John and I went back to the ARC. We hung out with the guys there for a bit, and then we decided to head back home. We saw our bus about to get to the stop that we were going to get on, so we started to run down and catch it. We missed it, so we just stood there smiling. A man on the bench by the bus stop asked us why we were smiling. We were able to tell him we were smiling because we had Jesus. After we said that, he told us that he could use some Jesus. So, we sat there at the bus stop with him for the next hour or more. He shared with us about his life and struggles. It was getting super late so we decided we should catch a bus to get home. We said goodbye as we were getting on the bus.
The bus we got on was packed full. It was fuller than a bus going to Wrigley Field on game day. It was crazy. While we were standing there John started talking to a man on the bus about politics. While they were talking a woman behind me told me that my bag was unzipped. I took the bag off because it wasn’t unzipped, it was just ripped and I didn’t want anything to fall out of it. It was from her saying that, we started talking. She told me how she was feeling really claustrophobic and tired. It was about 9:00pm and she told me she had been working since the day before at 4:00am. I asked her where she worked and she told me that she worked for security dispatch at the mall. I asked her if she remembered when there were people giving free hugs and she said yes. I told her how John and I were the ones that were giving out free hugs. She told me that she thought the rule was silly, but it was something they had to enforce.
I’m not exactly sure how the conversation got there, but we found out that she went to New Hope Church. We told her how we went there one time with some of our friends from the ARC. When we got off to transfer, she got off with us. Out of all of the people on the full bus she was the only one that was getting on the same bus as us. As we were waiting for the bus, we continued to talk to each other. She told us that she works so much because she has a daughter back home with no father to support her. She also supports her mother and her father. Her dad has a job, but his job isn’t enough to support all of them. Her stop came up, and we thought it was our stop too so we got off with her. As we were saying goodbye to her, I gave her my phone number and told her that if she ever wanted to do anything or someone to pray with to call me. Then, at the same time as I said that both John and Andrea said at the same time, “Let’s pray right now!” I was thinking the same thing, but I didn’t vocalize it. We stood there and prayed with her. While we were praying she began to weep. I rubbed her back as we continued to pray. When we were done we gave her hugs and started to say goodbye again. As soon as we finished hugging her, she asked if she could have another hug. We were like “heck yes” you can have a hug. We shared with her how funny it was that she ran into John and me as, out of everyone on our team, we are probably the people that love hugs the most. So we stood there for a little while more in a group hug.
After we split ways we realized that we had gotten off at the wrong stop. But, it was completely worth it!
So this week the team has decided to go and live with the people! The Kauluwela boys (Michael and Steven) are sleeping on the streets of China Town and the Waianae crew are sleeping at Keaau beach park. We’ve kind of got in mind that it will be for two weeks (we started on Wednesday night) but it could be longer depending on how we’re feeling. So far it’s been a challenge! There’s been a lot of rain all over the island, and last night we were flooded! We got back to camp after worship practice to find that out tent was getting filled with water, so the boys had to rotate it in the downpour! We had leaks in every corner and I pretty much slept in a puddle of water! I woke up, felt freezing cold and wet but didn’t know why, so I felt my pillow and doona and sure enough they were saturated! But there was nothing I could do so I just went back to sleep. We’re all a little delirious, tired and definitely sore from sleeping on the ground… Steven is like a zombie! But we are still so lucky and privileged that there is an “end date” to our homelessness, so really there’s nothing to complain about.
We’re hopefully going to get some excellent quality time with the people and families that are living in the beach park over the next week or so. We’re taking out pancake mix, bacon and eggs to have breakfast with them tomorrow – we’re only getting enough money to buy staples and using what we already have so that we can share food with the people out there. We’ve already gotten food donations and a cooler and lantern from Angel (she goes to The Salvation Army “The Rock” church) and lots of invitations to go and have dinner with our congregation members… But we mostly want to spend our free time with the Keaau residents.
Apparently there were gun shots over in the bush area (next to where we’re sleeping) over the past week or so, but “nothing that we should worry about” according to Uncle Bert (he’s lived at Keaau for 3 years) and there are psycho dogs near us that were chasing some guy down as he road past on his bike…So Bridgette and I decided it was safer to drive to the toilet block rather than get eaten There is only one toilet that works in the bathroom, and you don’t really want to touch anything in there! The showers are taps outside (like what surfers use to rinse off) so were probably going to shower when we get back to the dorms in the mornings because all of us girls are already sick and we don’t want to get worse by having freezing showers in the rain!
At the moment, we’re all kind of smelly, sleep deprived and hungry… but surprisingly in good spirits! It’s all an adventure and I honestly feel lucky to be doing it!
It’s definitely going to be an exciting and challenging experience and we would all really appreciate your prayers! But God is good and so faithful, we know that He’ll provide and we’ll be safe
by Emily Mayor
Imagine a place where caring for your brothers and sisters is a daily chore. A place where school is not encouraged. A place where there is barely enough to go around. A place where love is hard to find.
Loved starved children are plentiful in the community where I serve. These children that live in the low income housing project near the corps have a hard life. We see and feel it first hand. Walking through this run down neighborhood broken glass litters the ground while barefoot kids run and play. They are so full of endless imagination. Our attention and time are like life water to them.
While sitting on the steps at the foot of one of the small aprtments, six tiny, grubby faced urchins run up to Sarah and I, wrapping their little arms around us, each one fighting for a spot on our laps. So we stay. The kids play games with nothing but each other. I take a sip of water. They notice. Now they want a drink. Their smiles widen as each one tastes the icy life giving liquid. A line forms and soon my bottle is empty.
Every time we visit our desire is to water these little flowers with the hope that they will grow and blossom. We water them with the love of Jesus - His grace we hope to show.
by Jeff Walters
Wake from your sleep.
I’m drying all your tears, today. Today, we escape.
(Radiohead – Exit Music)
Tom was hard to find. He always is. But we found him as a product of our back-and-forth efforts, being torched by the sun and questioned by Honululu citizens baffled by our aimlessness here in rugged downtown China Town. I would have never thought my break-days would consist of spending time with broken people.
Three of us stand casting shadows onto his hungover body sprawled out the length of the bus stop bench. I kneel, becoming prepared to make level eye contact with a man who definitely doesn’t want to wake up right now. Last night he was drunk, as always, and that probably kept him up all night as it does every night. Still, I promised him this would happen. And I know he will love me in the end – though I don’t deserve the credit. So I nudge him once, twice, thrice. Finally his eyes crack open and pretend to see light for the first time in forever. Drool spills through and onto his shirt. But he sees me and I see him, finally, and I smile while a black duffel bag sits at my side. Blake holds a vibrant red blanket.
“Tom, you remember what I told you last night?”
“It’s you!” He sits up, using every last inch of energy.
“We brought you a bag of goodies.” As I unzip the bag I show him every item, from the first aid kit to the Bible, to the soap, and socks, etc.
Tom cries. He always cries, drunk or not drunk. “You brought this here? I needed a bag. And socks…”
Blake hands him the red blanket. I give him a hug. Before you know it, Tom places the bag to his right with the blanket on top and crashes into it. Asleep again. The ongoing effort to help him for a moment seems pointless, considering he’ll probably lose the bag or it’ll be stolen. And who wants to carry around a bright red blanket in the hardest area of the island? But I’m quick to reflect on the many times he’s cried and hugged me tight. What a good guy – spoiled by society. By alcohol. It’s unfortunate, and that’s how homelessness goes.
I stand and we walk away. Just another day. But this day will hopefully mean more than the previous days for Tom. He has no choice but to wake up sober, this time to find a handful of gifts at his disposal. And I pray that he reads that note that I wrote, stuffed between the two t-shirts, consisting of everything I feel and how God truly loves him.
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