Room in the Inn
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
I met Anthony last night. He writes poems in his notebook and recites them with passion for the words. He can feel the weight and the blessing of his gift.
I had dinner with old Larry. Larry served in the military between 1971 and 1983, but he doesn’t like war stories. So we talked about his days driving a truck across Texas. And about his brothers. He has lots of them. They were all musicians and played together when they were younger. His oldest brother died recently, but he didn’t receive the word in time and so he missed the funeral. He hopes his family will forgive him.
Later, I put my hand on Efrains back and prayed out loud for him. He doesn’t speak “good” English, but he understood the words Father and Son and Love. He nodded at me and smiled afterwards. I don’t pray out loud much. But I know my new Mexican friend appreciated it.
Jonathan is from Alaska. He’s a big eskimo kid. Good natured, slightly clumsy, with a lost look in his eyes. I found him a pair of boots that fit. He mumbled thank you thank you and then went to lay on his bed where he wrote in his notebook the rest of the night. I wondered how many miles from home he is.
Michael’s praying for an apartment. He’s been on the list for awhile. He told me with a huge smile on his face that he knows God will provide when it’s his time. I got him a pair of Steve Madden shoes. He asked who Steve Madden is, so I told him he’s John Madden’s brother.
“Really?!” he said.
“No, man. Not really.” I said. “I don’t know who Steve Madden is.”
We both laughed and he hugged me.
Clarence was quiet most of the night. But when we asked for prayer requests he simply said “Thank you. Thank you for taking us in. I’m just so grateful.” In the clothing closet he only wanted what he needed. I gave him more. Wool socks, clean underwear, a hat, a heavy coat, and a scarf. He has scars on his brows and around his eyes. Life must have been hard.
I didn’t care much for the two youngest men, Bryan and Noel. At first. Both seem disengaged. Happy to be there, but not interested in participating or interacting much. I sat beside Bryan during the praise and worship. I’m not a singer, but I sang loud, so that he could hear me. So that he would hear the words.
I helped Bryan find long underwear and some new boots in the closet. He works outside. In the bunkroom I sat beside him on his bed as he pulled out a small tv monitor, a laptop, and an Xbox and connected it. He played Modern Warfare and we made jokes about him being a video game “gangsta”. No place to live, but a sweet Xbox hookup. I was puzzled at first, but he came from somewhere. And an Xbox doesn’t change his living situation. It’s keeps him “out of trouble.” He’s a good kid. He thanked me for hanging out with him.
Noel looks like he may be Filipino, though I didn’t ask him. He wore pajama pants tucked into combat boots and a fedora hat. During praise and worship he sat in the back, on the floor, and pretended not to notice what was happening around him. Afterwards I talked him into coming to get some new warm clothes from the closet. He needed wool socks and gloves. He likes pajamas, so I found a pair of flannel ones in dark blue and black. His eyes lit up.
“Oh yeah, that’s my style bro. I’ll wear those!” he said.
“They’re yours brother. Pajama man!”
Later that night he thanked me for providing a place for him to sleep. He let me know that he has been “stomping around” middle Tennessee since 2011. The night before he slept under the bridge downtown where the flood had been. He’s just a kid.
I like Bryan and Noel.
I like them all.
I stayed until lights out. Then I drove to Kroger, bought milk and Starbucks coffee, swiped my debit card without a thought. I zipped up my expensive Carhartt coat against the cold as I walked back to my car.
I didn’t reflect much on myself. On my feelings or what I had just received. I thought about the guys and where they’d go in the morning.
I slept in my warm bed last night. Grateful for what we have. I’m grateful that these men came. I’m grateful that God will bless them someday. And we’ll talk again one day about the night we spent together at the little church 50 miles south of the Rescue Mission.
I don’t want anything from God in return for helping someone. I’ve already been blessed.
Deuteronomy 15:11 ESV /
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Leviticus 25:35-36 ESV /
“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.”
There are over 4000 homeless in Nashville, TN alone. Many of them women and children. Metro schools reports over 2000 homeless children in the city school system.
I love you,
ps. This weekend is my 112 mile triathlon for Preemies. I’m honoring National Prematurity Awareness Day. The plan:
Run 9 miles
Bike 40 miles
Run 3 miles
Bike 49.3 miles
Run 8.7 miles