Monday, August 9, 2010


C's Birthday

I feel there is so much to say about what I’ve seen happening in downtown Birmingham since I started going down on Sunday afternoons. I don’t know that I can actually catch you up.

But I will tell you about yesterday…. beginning with last Sunday. Last Sunday after helping serve the food I was sort of standing around awkwardly. I’m an awkward girl so that’s what I do. Since I’m also kind of a quiet girl…. That adds to the awkwardness. So I was standing around being odd when R drove up on his bike. R is one of my favorites. Is it odd or bad that I have favorite homeless men? I feel like I shouldn't but I do. R is a younger fellow. I’d guess him to be around 25. I have no idea what his story is but I like him and as soon as I saw him drive up, I was happy. I knew I’d have someone I could say hello to. He came over and gave me a hug and we talked about sunglasses, ice cream, and the weather. Then he started talking to another fella from the ministry team. So, I went over to say hello to a couple more guys from the street that seem to hang out together. Q and C. Q is probably in his 40s. I don’t know his story either. But, he is always nicely dressed. He’s dirty but his clothes are nice. So, Q tells me that next week (yesterday) was C’s birthday. At that point, C took off telling me about how he was going to walk proudly down the street on his birthday and drink a big ol’ Dr. Pepper. He went on and on about that Dr. Pepper and he seemed excited that he would get to spend his birthday with us.

So… now to yesterday. Knowing how important it was to C that it was his birthday I had gotten him a button that flashed Happy Birthday, and a small cooler with some ice and Dr. Peppers. I put it in a grocery bag with his name on it so it would blend in with other bags we had for the fellas. A coworker of mine had dropped off some cupcakes from Savages for him as well. I also kept those out of site for most of the afternoon. People get jealous of what the others get so I didn’t want to cause trouble or hurt any feelings. But as soon as we got to the overpass where we meet on Sundays I went over to give him a birthday hug and put his birthday pin on him. Immediately he started talking about his birthday Dr. Peppers. He said he had walked to the train station and paid $2.50 for a bottle of Dr. Pepper that morning only somehow he lost it. I think he said he put it down to do something and went back and it was gone. But he seemed happy to have gotten a few sips from it. Q wasn’t able to come to the overpass yesterday because earlier in the week someone who stayed in the same rundown building had beaten him up and injured him. I can’t imagine living in such a way. I worried for Q and felt sad for C because even his friend couldn’t help him celebrate his birthday. KM (a lady who heads up a lot of what the ministry does) walked over and joined us. She asked him how his birthday was going. He said it was better now but he had woken up sad because he was alone and didn’t have anyone to celebrate with. So KM told him we had something for him and we gave him the cupcakes and I told him about the Dr. Peppers. We sang Happy Birthday to him and he was so pleased and excited. We gave him so little and it meant so much to him. I think the only way I would have looked that pleased and excited is if someone had decided to pay off my mortgage.

R was also there again. He came over to me and very proudly showed me his “new” tennis shoes. These were shoes the ministry had been able to get for him from a local running shop. They were used but they looked brand new. R was so grateful for them. He told me that when he picked up his needs bag last week that he had no idea he’d have shoes in the bag and that he was so excited when he saw them. He had needed some new shoes for at least a month. I’m a little worried I didn’t respond to R as well as I should have because I was so focused on C and his birthday. I wouldn’t want to hurt R’s feelings for the world and he was so appreciative.

These men are such blessing to me… These men are homeless… and they bless me. I sort of wonder why that is. How can I be blessed by their poverty? Am I blessed because they are grateful to me for little things? That makes me feel like a bad person. But, I do care about them. I think about them all the time… When I’m outside and hot, I wonder if they’ve found a cool place to rest. Even today in the public bathroom at work when I saw toilet paper on the ground and a smudge on a door, I snarled a little at it not being perfectly clean and then I thought about my homeless friends and how they didn’t have bathrooms like I do let alone toilet paper. It’s a different world for some people. And most times we all just walk by and not even blink at it. It’s amazing.

Sweetie, I think you should blog about this topic at least once every week. Maybe that is what you are supposed to do. I love "hearing" these stories, learning about these men and their trials, and seeing how God is working.

I say again: more! You, and this ministry, are an inspiration.

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