It's the day that I've committed to being in the office- no home visits, no meetings, just office hours. It's great for homeowners who need to get a hold of me. But it makes for a long day. Today, I'd had enough and was bolting out the door just before 4pm (yes, early, I know. But I was due back at 5:30 for dinner, followed by Lenten lecture series #2, and then a prayer meeting). On my way out, I was tired, annoyed, frustrated and just done. As I was shoving the rest of my work into the car, a man approached me and asked for help. His name was James and he was from Little Rock, Arkansas. He was a carpenter by trade and had come to Gulfport to find construction work. He came with a friend who abandoned him and worked for a boss who never paid him. Weeks and weeks went by before he finally found himself homeless and penniless. He was at CVS today when one of the volunteers staying at our church spotted him and sat to talk with him. The volunteer told him to come by the church and see if we could help.
Unfortunately, this man's story isn't so rare. Many people have come here with good intentions of working, rebuilding, and making money and instead just get screwed over. Handsboro Pres can't house all of those people. We try to feed them, and talk with them, and we encourage them to return to their hometowns and their old support systems. The Gulf Coast is just too broken-these communities can hardly support themselves; they can't take on the nation's homeless, tired, and mistreated. So we pray with these unfortunate folks, we offer a meal, and we help them buy bus tickets. Today we managed to get a man home and to give him a bit of hope for the journey.
As I drove to the bus station with James, he told me that he'd go home and work to save some money to prepare better before coming back to help again. I'm not sure if he'll make it back to the Gulf, but I'll be praying that he does.