Blessings Flowing Out Of The Mundane
On Thursday I went to the dentist in the western suburbs! After my appointment and while nursing my numb mouth, I hopped into my vehicle and started heading back to CCO. I was expecting a long, tedious and boring traffic ridden drive back to the Northside. It was into this mundane scenerio that I was hit by 5 pleasant surprises! These surprises blessed me, but more importantly, they would ultimately bless many others in big and powerful ways!
I love it when the mundane is overwhelmed and overtaken by surprises; of course, surprises can be downright horrendous and terrifying, but on this particular day, these surprises were most certainly pleasant and were amazing blessings for some of Uptown's poorest and most marginalized people...
1. I'd bearly left Melrose Park when I received a phone call from David. (don't worry y'all, I was wearing headphones) He told me that Greg had been accepted into permanent housing for seniors. This made me very happy because he'd been homeless for a few months and had successfully saved up a decent amount of money. Greg desperately wanted to move into Friendly Towers and had been bugging me about his status every day for about a week!
2. As I was cruising through downtown, I received another phone call. This time it had to do with Dan, a homeless Vietnam Veteran I'd been helping. She told me that Dan was moving onto the next stage of his procedure, so we needed to set up an appointment and she needed one more document for him to qualify. I gave Dan a quick phone call and he told me he was in the park by Weiss Hospital; and that's where we met just 5 minutes later. All this to say; an appointment was finalized, he went to the VA the next day to get the vital document and he'll hopefully (I pray) be living in his own apartment sometime next month!
3. As I pulled over to assist Dan, I also offered him a plastic bag mat (see photo below), which he gladly accepted. He asked if he could grab one for Kevin, another guy who was sleeping outside with him! Of course, I gave him an extra one. Within seconds, many people came out of the shadows, requesting mats to try and make their lives a little more comfortable. I had about 20 of them in the van, and within minutes, I'd given all these amazing mats away! I handed them out to a very diverse crowd; there were all homeless, but there were both men and women, who were black, white, African, Cuban, Korean and Puerto Rican! They all wandered back into the Park, happy and blessed by these gifts they'd just received.
These mats sum up what I'm trying to illustrate with this blogpost; even though plastic bags are everywhere and can be somewhat useful, they are wasteful, mundane and boring. "New Life For Old Bags" surprised us all, because this group of wonderful people have taken these mundane boring bags and have created products that bless others! They've taken wasteful and harmful things and have surprisingly produced these mats that give a little dignity and hope to those experiencing homelessness! Not only do these NLFOB mats bless the recipients, I've witnessed how they bless those making them, and finally, I personally know how blessed I feel when I'm able give to them out and see how they produce smiles!
4. The fourth blessing came as I was giving out these mats. I bumped into a homeless family I'd been trying to locate for a little while; I wanted to get them out of the park and into CCO. During this brief stop, I was able to hear their story and convince them to come inside. Today, they're all residing in our shelter. Hopefully, prayerfully, we'll be able to get them into safe and permanent housing as quickly as possible.
5. As I returned to CCO, I went immediately to find Greg and give him the good news! It's very hard to put into words the happiness and excitement homeless people have when they successfully move into housing. Their faces simultaneously express (in different ways) relief, contentment and blessing. Their eyes say "yay, I've done it!" When I gave Greg the good news; he had that look! One day later, he took his saved money, paid a few months rent and happily moved into his new apartment.
A few days have now passed since that mundane 45 minute drive became an hour of surprising blessings! And all I can say is; I'm glad and honored to have been surprised and blessed by it, I'm glad and honored other people were surprised and blessed by it also.