I dragged Michelle to the library so that we could perhaps find some homeless people that we could invite to eat dinner with us. On the way, I fielded such questions as, “What is your plan? How are you going to do this? Where are we going to take them to eat? What if they take out a knife and stab you?” After arguing about the statistical improbability of us getting hurt, I comforted her by saying that I had no plan or clue as to what to do and that we would just have to figure it out as we went along. I was just happy to have her with me and that she was supportive in this idea. It helped that I was so excited to do this, that it would have been harder to say no to me than to a hungry little boy that wanted a happy meal.
We walked through the library for about 30 minutes identifying people that we could possibly invite to dinner and in our minds debating whether certain people were homeless or not. I was too chicken to just walk up and talk to people, and so we just kept walking around.
Finally we walked by a man and a lady that looked like they were doing something interesting and so I asked the lady what she was doing. “Well, I am making cigarettes.” I was kind of taken back that this lady had made the library her laboratory or better said, manufacturing plant for cigarettes, and so I quickly inquired, “How do you do that?” The man decided to show me how it was done and pulled out one of these
and explained, “you see here we have the cigarette maker, it costs $4, and here we have the tobacco, and it costs $1.60 for a whole pack, and this pack of tobacco comes with the papers that we roll the tobacco in, so let me show you how we do this, we take this $4 device and we roll it like this, and then we add the tobacco and then we take this little piece of paper and twist it in here like this, and then we lick it and it seals it and we have ourselves a cigarette, and this pack of $1.60 makes 27 of them and a pack at the store costs $5, and they only come with 20 and so we are saving a bunch of money because this $4 device will last a long time, so it is a lot cheaper to make our own, but there aren’t any filters and it is a lot less healthy, but smoking isn’t healthy anyway and I am trying to quit, but I haven’t yet, I am down to 12 a day when she is around (points to where his wife was sitting because she had left for a bathroom break), and so that is how it is done, do you want one.”
“no thanks, can I take a picture?”
“Sure, as long as you don’t get my face in it”
I introduced myself and Michelle and then he asked if we were going to school, I told him I try and sell computers and then I asked him what he did. He said he was a cook and then he pulled out 4 papers that had 4 different places that he applied to for jobs and was waiting to hear back from. I asked him what I can cook for dinner that doesn’t take much time and he told me that I could cook a Shephards Pie quickly and explained in great detail how I can do it.
I asked them where they lived and they said they live in the homeless shelter. I asked them what it was like and they said it was scary and not a good place, but that they go to Murray into a warehouse and have a cot to sleep on, so they are taken care of.
I asked them a lot of questions, What do you do during the day? How long have you been homeless? Do you have plans to get into a home? He replied, “I try to find work, about 1 year now, and we do have plans to get into a home.”
We found out that the lady, works at the Energy solutions arena 2 times per week and that when the Jazz win, then you get a free Big Mac for each ticket, so she explained how she had picked up 10 tickets and given them all away. The man turned to her and said, “don’t we have one more ticket that we can give them, have you guys eaten?” He then rummaged through his pocket and found a folded ticket and handed it over to me with a big grin on his face that revealed a missing tooth, “Here you go, you can go get a free Big Mac now.” I was taken back and very thankful, “We will go do that, we haven’t eaten and would like that, thank you very much.”
In that brief exchange I learned more deeply what Jesus taught his disciples long ago as he pointed out how “the poor widow threw in two mites….and in her want did cast in all that she had,” (Mark 12:41-44), and that we will be judged by how sincere and charitable we are to our brothers. As I saw my two new friends give me a meal, when they lacked a certainty of what and when their next meal was going to be, I was humbled and simultaneously given an answer to a prayer.
You see, for the last two months I have asked myself and the Lord what and how much he wants me to give, to the needy and poor, and if it would be ok to cut back on how much I give. We all know that in these tough economic times it is easy to start living with the mentality of scarcity and want to cut back on our donations to the poor and needy and save it for the rainy days that are to come. My thoughts over the last months have been; “I have given, and now economic times are really tough, and I need to save, should I cut back on how much I give, what if I cut it in half, would that be such a problem, who am I helping anyway, and will there be such a difference, but Mike, you’ll know the difference if you don’t give or increase what you are giving and deep down you’ll know that you gave less, when you should have given more, aaah, but we are in a recession!! and who knows how things will turn out?? but if we are in a recession than there is more reason to give and more people that are in serious need of your donation, so maybe you should give more, well maybe I should, but how am I going to decide that, I don’t know, I’ll just decide later.”
My new friends helped me decide what I am to do as they exemplified the scripture and the promise found in Proverbs 28:27 “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack.” I pray they’ll be blessed and will not lack. I walked out of the library with a free Big Mac and a lesson learned.