Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Week of June 15th

It was a tough weekend.

I was at a local Mennonite conference, hanging with people I knew.  The conference minister asked me to teach a workshop which explains two biblical views of homosexuality.  That put me in the center of the whole controversy that every denomination seems to be caught up in,  I expected some anger and hurt during the workshop.  But after that, there were people yelling at me, spreading gossip about me, lots of drama and people who think I'm on their side saying "thank you."  Emails telling me that I don't understand logic.

I wasn't on anybody's side.  I was teaching about staying together.

I didn't expect the drama, I guess.  I should have.

Meanwhile, in Anawim, they are working through stuff without me for the first time since we closed down and opened up again.  No problem, I thought, we've been through this before.

Yes problem.

Chaos reigned and a couple people lost it and started screaming and threatening.  It started just a few hours after I left, and continued to all the next day.  That was really frustrating.  Not expected, and there's a bunch of people I need to talk to now.

But what I really didn't expect was my reaction to all this drama.  I plunged into the deepest depression I had experienced in ten years.  A day and a half of feeling pointless, feeling that nothing I do is any good, that everything falls apart.  This is really unlike me.  I'm the super confident guy, finding the silver lining around every bad circumstance.  But I couldn't escape the depressed, self-rejecting thoughts.  They rolled in my head and picked up where they left off after sleep.

I slept and slept and slept.  That was good.  By Monday morning I felt a lot better.  But I still needed more sleep.  Same on Tuesday (today).  I had too much to do to get the sleep my body needed, but tonight is the first time I've been ready to write since last Thursday.

Today I went through the exercise of explaining why what we do actually works and why it's not pointless. I also spoke of my personal weakness, and how everyone looks to me to keep things together, but I'm a weak human being.

I hope I'm ready to get really working again tomorrow

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Week of June 8, part 2

I feel myself being dragged back into a life of violence.  Violence is actually the bread-and-butter of a peacemaker, for if there is no conflict, what has the peacemaker to do?

There was tension in the air as I drove onto the campus on Friday.  Raechel and Aaron are all nervous about Josh who says they stole his clothes.  Raechel allowed me to be there when she opened her bags, and there were men's clothes, which Aubry later thought was hers.  But there was so much tension between R and A and J and Josh was acting so hostile, that I told him to get off the property.

I left and came back and then HooDang got into it.  I guess he confronted Diver, and brought out a machete, and threatened, but did nothing.  He came on the property, confronted John Denver but I told him to back off.  So he laid into me.  "You know that they are selling drugs here, right?  And you do nothing."  He rages and I stand there, just answering him, so he turns away.  Then I laugh at something someone else said, and he turns back and attacks me, punching me in the jaw.  I just took it, didn't do more than flinch and stood there.  He picked up his machete and left.

Everyone was asking me if I was okay and I said I was.  I was okay.  My throat was a bit sore, but I was fine.  But no one had seen me hit like that before (I had been, but that was a more private affair).  Everyone got on HooDang after that. He won't live down hitting the preacher, unprovoked.

David the cook was angry and scared.  But he was spreading gossip about Travis. He could have talked to Travis himself, but he was too scared-- or he was spreading rumors because Travis yelled at him last week.  I don't know which.  But after confronting me (and me confronting him for spreading rumors that might damage the ministry), he left and said he wouldn't come back.

Last night I met with a group of neighbors and gave them a summary of homelessness in Gresham.  Then three people decided to attack me and my work personally and tell me what I'm doing wrong.  Of course.  They are afraid and don't like the noise and they fear retaliation, and it is mostly made up in their minds.  I invited them to the next BBQ to meet some of the folks.

You gotta step into it to get any growth.  But I'm pretty tired.

Week of June 1, 2015

Well, we got started up again.  The schedule is shallower than it was when Anawim shut down at the beginning of March, but we are up and going.  St. Johns is shut down for now.  Even Nick and Rebecca closed Mercy Table because they are going to China for the summer to adopt an adorable child.  Gilbert is in the hospital with terminal liver cancer.  He said he's happy to go.  I don't blame him, at least his suffering would be over.

I finished my training this week, the final sessions of the Peacemaking Among the Homeless sessions.  It went well.  So much information, but it's great to have people willing and excited to receive it.

Our first day open again had almost a hundred people there for the BBQ and for just supporting.  I've seen most of the homeless at work days or just hanging out at our place while we were closed.  But there were so many people I haven't seen for a while, and they have returned to visit, clean and sober and housed and doing well.  So many children!

I wish that we could retain these folks when they are doing well, but I understand that we are on the edge, meeting people's needs so they can make positive decisions in their lives.  This means they are still making the bad decisions and the "graduates" need to not hang with them, lest they start making bad decisions again.

What a strange church we are.  As soon as we have success, our people leave.  We are some sort of homeless high school, I guess.

I can't believe how tired I am.  I shouldn't have opened this week.  Someone had asked Travis "Why are you opening now?" as if we weren't needed yet.  Perhaps he's right.  I need to rest more, recover from the training I've done over the last two months.  But no, the workaholic must press on.

I don't know if I can start up yet.  But I guess we'll see.  I guess I'll do what I always do.  Press on.  Pray for strength.  Press on.  Pray for patience, pray for peace.  Press on.  That's what I do.

Really, though, it's been a peaceful first week, even with all the people there.  Everyone was happy, quiet, satisfied.  So quiet.  Spooky quiet.

Week of June 8, 2015

The van started sounding pretty bad.  Like a horrible knocking, ticking as if the engine were on a time limit.  I heard a number of different opinions: "spark plug" "isilabat" (I don't know, it's all nonsense to me).  "Thrown rod".  What IS a thrown rod anyway? I always think of a staff of Moses being thrown into an engine.  I took it to a Jiffy Lube and they said that they wouldn't take my money, and that whatever it was it needed to be fixed immediately.

I took it to a mechanic, and they looked at it after 12 hours.  They said the engine is dangerous.  Drive it around and it might explode, and that wouldn't be good for anyone.  "If you move it, tow it.  Don't drive it."  They said that the only solution is to put a new engine in it.  For how much?  2500 dollars.  Oh yeah, like I have that.  I didn't even bother looking at my account.  I knew that I had less than a thousand and I owed a thousand for rent, as well as utilities.  Bleh.

I sent word out on Facebook and Filmspotting of my situation.  Good places to whine.  My FB friends told me to crowdfund.  One local FS friend offered me a van to borrow.  After three days of crowdfunding, we met the whole amount we needed.  Of course, the van won't be ready for another two weeks, but I can borrow my FS friend's van on Thursday night, so we are set.

Eric and I were talking last night after I took another opportunity to be yelled at by my neighbors.  He just got a home and a job after living in his van, jobless for two years.  He said that he is mystified by how God works, but God always provides.  Always in the last minute, but he always provides.  Yeah, I said, it's that last minute part I can't stand.