I am going to confess something to all of you. Some days this job gets the best of me. Simply put, it gets heavy and I get weighed down. On one of these heavy days I was sitting in my office looking out the window watching the morning commuters drive past the collection of folks that had just eaten a delicious SUMS breakfast and were now taking naps on the boulevard. “Ugh!” is the best interjection for my emotion. My negative thoughts start and my stream of consciousness goes something like this: “Why are our guest undermining me? They know they aren’t supposed to hang out on the boulevard. Those cars going by . . . all those witnesses that SUMS does nothing but enable. Is that all we do . . . enable? Now Dale is bringing out his pipe. He is 2 meters from the road . . . ugh! . . . Why . . . now I’ll go outside only to hear ‘we have no place to go’ and all the while the surrounding community is saying ‘get them away from here’.” I jump out of my desk, lock my door behind me and exit the mission on a mission.
The weight of it all, and I am ready to unleash on everything . . .
Our guests . . .
The neighbors . . .
Our building that is too small . . .
I step off the curb…
Suddenly I am taken out of my head because I realize that someone is calling me. It is Darren, the young man who stole our garbage cart a few stories ago. He is smiling and almost laughing because he has seen my current mood. Embarrassed, I acknowledge him and he clearly wants me to come closer. I compartmentalize the frustration for a moment and approach smiling, yet thinking “I don’t have time for this.”
“I came by to see you,” he said
“It has been a while hasn’t it” I was starting to realize something bigger was going on. I started to get the feeling that Christ’s loving arms were in this situation.
“Yes, it’s been four months. I just wanted to let you know that I am doing really well, I am living with family, stopped using and I am back in contact with my wife and kid. So . . . you know . . . thanks. You wrote that story about me. It meant something.” At this point we were hugging. I told him that his timing was amazing and made sure that whether he know it or not God was using him as his messenger.
Sometimes, when days are especially difficult, and I don’t have these amazing Darren interactions, it’s easy to wonder if we’re making a difference. When thinking about writing this I asked Amber, one of our more enthusiastic employees, “What are some of the good things that are springing out of our efforts?” I thought it would take a day, but within minutes she had a list for me. These are just a few:
Our guest, Mitch, who has been living rough with muscular dystrophy as well as many other medical issues, is now in subsidized housing. We are helping him with budgeting and moving into his home.
We advocated and succeeded for Il to get into subsidized housing after years of living outside.
Don had cataract surgery, which would not have happened without support from our Community Connections Workers and the SUMS address as his residence.
We partnered with UGM to help Ron get to his Dad’s funeral in Ontario. He was able to see his son and mother after 25 years away. His son was 11 when he saw him last.
Taryna is back with her family in Ontario after surviving a deadly brain aneurysm out front of SUMS. We walked her through every step. She and her child are back with her family after being apart for 20 years.
Our guests clean the inside and outside of the building daily because it is their building and they have a place where they feel safe and loved.
We ensured that Sarah went into the hospital maybe moments before she was going to die. She went into a coma, then out of a coma, then out of the hospital and into housing and is now surrounded by a care team of wrap-around services. We were with her all the way.
Heather can hear better because we connected her with a free hearing clinic.
As I write this, a stream of great stories are starting to flow through my head. Yes this call can be frustrating, but the joy of the LORD is our strength. We are seeing His work in the daily prayers, the chapel prayers, and the daily “Amen’s”. In the “I love you too’s,” and the misguided “thank you, Pastor Mike’s.” It is truly a great place to be and I want to invite you to join us.
We would love to start a Guest Transportation Program and we need a van.
We are working on starting a Christ-centered Housing Outreach Program that will assist people in retaining housing and taking next steps to improve their quality of life.
We would love to be part of a mentor-ship program to assist individuals as they move into their new homes.
If you read these and feel that desire to get involved in any way call me. My number is (604) 788-7343