Mr. Pete and Mr. Darrin

#21, Pete @ I17 and Peoria, Phoenix.

As I drove down the exit ramp heading south to turn east, I noticed Mr. Pete from the corner of my eye, sitting on the curb on the opposite corner. With him he had a backpack and a small sign that I never got to read.

After making a couple of U-turns and parking a quarter of a mile away, I walked down to the corner he was tucked away at.

He accepted my lunch, then put it on the ground and pushed it away from him.

Perhaps he will eat it later.

Kinda felt it wasn’t food he was looking for, but that’s OK. There will be those people.

Interestingly enough, after waking back to my car and driving across the street to a QT to use the bathroom and write my note about Mr. Pete, I look up to find someone else who I noticed working the median at a different corner.

He was holding his sign, along with a couple of bags of groceries that he had just recently purchased from inside the store. In his hands were a couple of boxes of cereal, a Monster, a fountain drink and a coffee cup.

I observed him conversing with another gentleman who was struggling with something on his bike.

Shortly thereafter, an employee came out and had something to say to him. It seemed that the employee was not happy, while the gentleman with his groceries and sign, looked confused.

I was confused as well.

I watched him being told to leave the property from the comfort of my car. My car that was parked in front of one of their entrances and I, who only used their bathroom and did not purchase anything was not approached at all or asked to leave.

Interesting.

#22, Darrin @ 7th street and Dunlap, Phoenix.

Mr. Darrin’s sign read, “Homeless and Hungry”.

I find it interesting that people have confronted me about using the term “Homeless” and accuse me of giving them a derogatory label, when in fact, it appears, it is what they call themselves.

For the record, Deaf people who are deaf, consider the term “Hearing Impaired”, to be derogatory, even though those who can hear feel it is more politically correct. Just saying.

Maybe there’s a difference, maybe there’s not.

Having already giving my extra lunch away, I pulled over to give him a coat that was donated to me; he was after all, wearing a sleeveless shirt.

After approaching him and offering the coat, I realized he already had one that he was not wearing.

Awkward moment when I feel he accepts my offer to not hurt my feelings.

Ugh….

I don’t even know what to say about that, except there was a time when I was single and struggling to clothe my four children.

I would never turn down anything that was given to me. Even if I had plenty, I never knew if I was going to run out.

I figured it was a gift that I didn’t know I was going to need. I felt it was God’s provision.

If he doesn’t need it, I hope he gives it to someone who does.

Lord, please look after Mr. Pete and Mr. Darrin. I pray that what they seek is what they need. In your Son’s name. Amen.

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Mr. Ramon

Ramon is #20 of the 365 names I want to collect.

I collect my names through extra lunches, but it’s not about the lunches. It’s not even really about the names. It’s about the people.

My goal is to match 365 faces with a name. If I can get a story too, well that would be icing!

What I hope to do is to inspire others to show more compassion.

We are all called to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37). One way I do that is by searching for those who are hungry.

#20 Ramon @ a field on Grand Ave, north of Indian School, Phoenix.

Mr Ramon was sitting in the middle of an empty field surrounded by his treasures.

I hollered out a hello as I approached, just so I wouldn’t spook him.

He seemed to be intently working on something, but by scanning the ground around where he sat, I couldn’t figure out exactly what. His hands were wet, soapy even, I think.

I told him I had made an extra lunch today, and wondered if he was hungry.

He looked away from me.

I thought for a moment he was going to say no.

He gazed back.

“Well.” He paused, “I’m always hungry.”

His voice was soft. He sounded gentle. He spoke as if he was in no hurry, and pondered the words he wanted to speak. “Thank you.”

He reached out to grab my sack as I extended it to him.

“I hope you have a great day, Ramon.” I turn to leave when I heard him call out.

“Kim?” I turn to face him. “I think I’ve seen you before. You and your husband. You were walking.”

I assured him it wasn’t me. I was a little disappointed it wasn’t.

“Oh.” He started to sit back down.

“God bless,” I told him as I started heading back to my car again.

I had wished we weren’t standing alone in the middle of a field.

I wished I wasn’t a woman who had to be mindful of her safety.

He seemed lonely.

I hope his meal brought him comfort.

What’s Next?

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Finished my last job early today at 11:30, so headed from Paradise Valley to my office in Phoenix. Driving down 32nd street I spot Miss Norma sitting on a curb in a city park parking lot.

As I drive up to her, taking out a curb in my car myself, she stands up to walk away. Can’t say that I blame her considering my relationships with curbs and all, but I call out to her.

“Excuse me.”

Even as fumbling with trying to turn my gps off on my phone, she walks over to me.

“I made an extra lunch today. I was wondering if you would like it?”

Immediately I feel her heart swell.

“Thank you,” she says. “They cut my assistance. They cut my food stamps. I’m living off of $630 a month for rent and that’s about it, but God is still providing.”

She is nothing but skin and bones. I can’t tell how old she is. Life has certainly taken her youth, but she’s still praising God.

“Thank you,” she adds. “What a nice way to start my day off.”

I shake her hand and introduce myself.

Miss Norma, I pray you have a blessed day.

“I already am. Thank you, again.”

One down.

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I drive about a thousand feet from the city park, and I spot an older gentleman wearing a couple of shirts, and a large floppy hat, like what you would see a gardner wear. He’s going through a large trash bin from a trailer park, pulling out plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

Having past the turn in, I circle around the block and head back. I pull up close to the wall so as not to spook him. He doesn’t notice me approach until I’m right in front of him.

Holding up the lunch bag I tell him I made an extra lunch and ask if he would like it. He smiles and nods as he puts his hand out for it.

“Thank you,” he says softly, a whisper really, and high pitch voice that is almost childlike.

At this point I’m wondering if he even understand me because now he is just nodding at me with a gentle grin.

I put my hand up to shake his hand. He extends his arm, and showing me how dirty his gloves are. I squeeze his forearm.

“Thank you,” he says once again.

I get back in my car and proceed to continue driving around the drive to get back out.

Within ten feet I pass two gentlemen who are talking next to their car and then suddenly notice I’m driving the wrong way.

Feeling like a dumb white girl, I stop, make a U-turn and wave back at the two men as I drive pass them once again.

Two down.

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Knowing I have one more lunch to hand out, I take 32nd street all the way down to Washington, instead of going on the freeway. As I’m going under the overpass I notice Mr. Kurt.

Only problem is there is no place for me to pull over. I drive a quarter of a mile to the light and question if I should really pull over now knowing I’d have to walk a quarter of a mile back to him.

I turn right and park in front of the line of cars that have parked along the street to walk into the eatery across the road. I start trekking back to the freeway exit.

As I walk, I notice a makeshift shack tucked closely behind a dirt pile in the open field, with two people moving about.

This must be his home I think, wishing I had another two lunches with me.

As I approach his curb I see he’s holding his sign up to the exiting drivers.

He waves to me.

He is wearing a heavy, black, worn leather jacket and jeans. He has grey, scraggly hair that falls at about his shoulders. He’s rather quite handsome.

As he realizes I’m about to talk to him, he pulls an ear bud out of his left ear.

“How are you?” I ask as I extend my hand.

He takes his cigarette out of his mouth and shakes my hand with his free hand.

“Good, thank you. But very hungry.”

I explain that I was driving down the road and noticed him. Being that I had made an extra lunch today, I thought I would pull over and bring it to him.

“Oh God bless you,” he says.

“He already has,” I reply. “Have a good day.”

I walk back a quarter of a mile to my car.

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As I walk I think to myself, God sees this. He sees where Mr. Kurt lives. He sees how hard some will work to earn a little bit of cash collecting trash. He sees Miss. Norma struggles.

They are his children and he loves them just as much as he loves me. And I’m his favorite, so that’s a whole lot! I’m glad I got to meet them today. I’d like to meet more of them.

So what I’ve learned…

– Pack bananas, not apples. The whole bad teeth thing is real.
– Transcribe my note in Spanish too.
– Get out of my car to interact.
– If they want to talk, listen. If they don’t, don’t take it personally and just walk away.
– This took almost no time to do.

And finally,
– Today I saw the face of God. He’s beautiful and I want to see him again soon and quite often.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat” – Matthew 25:35

What If?

Tonight I went to my Mat Group. It’s a group where we get together to make sleeping mats, like what we gave out for Christmas, to the homeless. We meet every other Wednesday at a local coffee shop.

There are three of us.

Yes, many people have said they want to come. Several have come every once in awhile. But for the most part it’s just the three of us.

I love this group!

It is more than just a time to do something nice for someone else. Honestly, that’s just the excuse I use for us to get together.

Because it is while we pull out balls of plarn and crochet down one side of a chain, turn and crochet back over it again, we talk.

We talk about the past two weeks. We celebrate our accomplishments. Cry over our disappoints. We fume over our frustrations.

And tonight we talked about our WHAT IFs. What if we did more? What if there is something else we should be doing? What if we could be doing something for someone? And what if we’re not?

What are we suppose to be doing? What is our purpose?

I shared that I’ve been having this idea about packing a lunch to give away to someone on the street. Most of my day is spent in my car and I see these people daily. They just wander. I don’t know where they are going or what they are going to do.

It’s funny because I told them I haven’t yet because I wasn’t sure what I’m suppose to do.

I thought about making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But WHAT IF it’s not eaten right away? It could get soggy or the bread could go stale.

I could pack an apple. But WHAT IF they have bad teeth and can’t bite into it?

WHAT IF….?

I stopped myself.

WHAT IF I just did it instead of thinking so much about it?

If I make a sandwich, then it means I can’t come home until I’ve given it away. I will make sure I slice the apples.

In fact, I went home tonight and scrounged around in my kitchen looking for what I had.

I packed a snack size baggie with some cinnamon toast crunch. I grabbed a water bottle from the fridge. I made just a peanut butter sandwich because I was out of jelly, but I cut it diagonally down the center, because that’s how I like my sandwiches. I had a jolly rancher in my car and a piece of gum on my bathroom counter. I neatly folded a paper towel, since I’m out of napkins, and placed it gently inside, with a note, I hand wrote giving a little bit of hope.

That’s what came out of tonight’s Mat Group, other than the three sleeping mats that are currently in production. In fact, I went ahead and made three.

One for each one of us.

Someone, well, three someones, will be having lunch on God’s dime, tomorrow.

And WHAT IF I didn’t get to see it? WHAT IF it never happened? I’ll write tomorrow to let you know what I might have missed!

Until then, what is your, WHAT IF?

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My Morning Issue

I am seriously, overwhelmed, by the role God has placed me in.

It started with just a pin I found on Pinterest. A pin I discarded because I didn’t think I could really make any impact.

It was to make a sleeping mat for someone who is homeless. Five hundred to seven hundred grocery bags to make one. ONE!

Where would I come up with five to seven hundred bags? To make just one? Really?

Why would I do that?

Who would I really be helping? Sure, ONE person.

I kinda wish I knew the name of that one person, now.

Because I am learning with God’s economy, ONE can multiply into MANY!

Seriously with God, what’s up is down, what’s down is up. One soul is priceless while many good deeds are worthless.

So please don’t say what I do is great. There is only One who is great, and that One is not me. I am only obedient.

Jesus says to do two things, love God and love others. That is all that I am doing. Not only can anyone do that, but everyone should be doing that.

Doing what I am told does not make me great. It makes me faithful.

Faithfulness grows from obedience.

And that one mat has turned into a ministry that is so much bigger than myself. In its year of existence, not I, but my friends and I have made and donated 53 mats. That is more than one mat a week!

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How is that possible? I don’t know! Did I mention it takes five to seven hundred bags FOR ONE? Do you know how long it takes to make just one? It could take awhile, and I promise you, I have not been crocheting a mat a week… for a year!

From the mat ministry, our hat ministry formed.

We donated nearly 400 hats to a shelter in Flagstaff this Thanksgiving, with just a handful of friends and a box full of yarn.

In my garage now, I have enough yarn to make at least another 400, and I didn’t buy any of it!

This is crazy!

Yesterday, I got a call asking if the church we’re donating our mats to, could use the clothes, jackets, food and hygiene products her church has been collecting for a year.

WELL, YEAH!

And now, here I am trying to figure out how I’m gonna fit all our mats in the back of my Expedition with all their stuff?!?

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What a stinkin’ cool problem to have to deal with this morning!

My heart is full and my mind is blown.

What I have learned is loving on one person is enough to grow my faith. I don’t have to feel I need to help many people, just the one God puts in front of me.

The rest will come and my faith will grow.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart  and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31