Monday, July 22, 2013

Homeless But Not Hopeless

Blog written by Zach Pierce (Senior at Northwood High School, Irvine)

Last night we went out to feed some of the homeless people that were wandering the streets of El Salvador. None of us knew what to expect but we knew that this night was going to have an impact on our lives. We were right.  Here’s how the night went: to start out, we formed the most efficient sandwich making assembly line in the history of El Salvador mission trips, with each person having their own task that that they were in charge of. On any other day, I would consider making 100 to 200 sandwiches as a rather tedious task, but it ended up being a great time together. By the time we packed the last bag, about thirty minutes had passed. The meals consisted of a bologna sandwich, chips, cookies, a juice box, a handsome supply of napkins, and an apple.

At about 9:30, we hit the streets. About twelve members of the team, along with two translators, crammed into the back of the truck. It was a tight squeeze. Before we took off, the translators informed us on what specifically our job was on this little trip. They explained to us that we are here only to give and the only time we mention God will be after we give them when we say “Dios te bendiga” (God bless you). Personally, I knew there were a lot of homeless people on the streets but I really didn’t know exactly how many to expect. We didn’t have to drive far to find our first person. We yelled “comida” (food) and he sprinted right over. I was expecting the whole night to have similar encounters throughout the night and I was actually starting to wonder if we would even give out the food. Then we stopped by some more populated homeless areas and we even saw people running from hundreds of feet away just for a meal. We fed everyone regardless of his or her situation. They could be young, old, a drug addict, an alcoholic, or handicapped. Everyone was equal in the eyes of God and therefore everyone got to eat.

There was one moment that touched the team and me more than the others. We drove past one of the business districts and saw three homeless people sleeping in front of a row of stores. It rained sporadically throughout the night so they were just trying to get some sleep in a dry space. As we got closer, it was apparent that one of the people was not a middle-aged man or woman similar to most of the people we had seen. He was a young boy who looked about 12 or 13. When our translator woke him up, he seemed disoriented and really out of it. He looked nothing like the smiling kids we had played with early that day at the orphanage. He looked broken. Apparently, Kurt knew this boy. He had been in and out of homes because he would always run away. He would brag to his friends about how great life outside the homes was. It didn’t seem like this was a life to brag about. Personally, I began to think about what this kid does during the day and what motivates him to get up in the morning. It was a depressing image to say the least. 

People in the meeting afterwards described what they saw as hopeless and I agreed. I am sure it was a great blessing to most of those people, but it was just one meal. The most important thing I hope the homeless realize through the meals is that there is hope because God loves everyone. I hope that the people understand that we are giving them food in the name of the Lord and that even though their situation seems inescapable, the Lord has a plan for them. It might be easy for these people to hate God and therefore it was admirable and somewhat comforting that a lot of them said “God bless you” with such passion when they received the food. Those were the type of people that inspired hope in the community. It was an eye opening experience for everyone and I am very thankful I got to be a part of it. 

1 comment:

  1. Zach, your articulately written account of last nights events touched me personally. May you never forget your experience and may it make you a person who is focused on other people who are less fortunate for the rest of your life. And remember, it's Jesus who is the model for what you are experiencing. Just read the Bible in the book of James chapter 1 verse 27 for proof!