How Y’all Doing,
Sweets and I had been in Sanctuary close to four months when we had quite the experience at the local liquor store. To lead up to that part of the story I need to first set the scene so that you have a better understanding of why it happened.
Sweets and I moved out to Sanctuary about mid Autumn, our site was off in another part of the forest. From the moment we moved out there we had found the people there to be interesting. The outside world viewed the homeless people as degenerates, alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, etc. Well, I am none of those, nor is Sweets. We first met Matchstick and Jose as they were arguing over campsites. Matchstick had had his site for five years and Jose wanted it. Matchstick stands six feet six inches and was a carpenter before he moved to Sanctuary. Jose was scrawny, at five feet, and mostly all mouth. I ended the argument by saying “hi”. Jose wheeled around and lost his train of thought. Matchstick returned to his tent to pee, the argument was over. By the end of the day we had met another dozen residents. And our first night we were constantly offered something strong to drink. We graciously declined. They kept insisting they had to do something for us since we shared our meal with them. We were content with our coffee which they found they liked the way we made it.
The next day Moon showed up Morgan and Claus. And we were invited back to the encampments common area for a community fire. As we sat and chatted we got to know Butch, Quincy, Princess, Bon Bon, and the others that were there that night. The conversation drifted around to the spiritual side of life and Matchstick asked us what we believe and they shared what they believe and that will be in a future post about Romans chapter six. We shared with them that God had showed us in scripture where he repeatedly told His people to “Go”, and they went. Well we had prayed about what we were supposed to do and where we were supposed to go. As we waited on the Lord, a couple of friends of mine were killed in Sanctuary due to a fire at their site. After speaking with our pastor we went to Sanctuary. When we first arrived it was weird getting to know these people, people that we had a bit in common with but didn’t know.
After we had been out there a couple of months we had the opportunity to tithe all we had which after a rough week of not making much money we found three pennies laying on the ground as we were heading to church. We tithed those three pennies and within the first month, people from all walks of life started showing up and donating supplies to our site that they had asked us to hand out to those in our encampment and to any others that we knew about in the Greater Lansing area. Those three pennies became six thousand dollars in clothing, bedding, tents, clothing, food, and other items that we were able to hand out to people. We had gone to a community fire again after all that began and Jose called us, “homeless missionaries”. The name stuck. And as word spread that there was people there, in Sanctuary, willing to help we started receiving visits from the local police wanting to know if we could put up a site for people they had found under the freeway over passes, behind dumpsters, or anywhere else. We said “yes”.
We had become quite busy as the police had began informing us where other communities may be, we went searching for them and shared what supplies they needed. In the course of two months we had located a total of thirty one other encampments or sites. Then an associate pastor from a local church saw a newspaper article about Gnome and came looking for him. Gnome had started off staying at a local shelter and ended up out there with us. The pastor started having Bible studies. And then we started having even more activities going on. Those in our encampment invited us to move into the central part of the encampment, so we moved and built a wigwam. From the Wigwam we offered a hot meal, clothing, shelter, bedding, food, utensils, camping gear, and a Bible if they wanted it. We were sought out because we offered everything and didn’t expect someone to listen to a sermon before they received help. Some took the Bible, some didn’t. We never forced it on anyone. We chatted about Jesus every night. We had communion with crackers and previously frozen boxed wine about once a week (that’s probably why we will NOT touch wine now).
Even with all of the donations we even had people offering services to our community, bus passes were handed out, firewood was dropped off, bicycle repair began getting offered, meals were prepared by a few different groups, pallets were dropped off for building materials, rides were offered for people to visit their families, get to doctor’s appointments, phone calls were allowed to be made on cell phones, the efforts of so many people was truly amazing.
It was just after the annual Point In Time Count and Sweets and I decided to go for a walk to get some fresh air and to plan out our day. We ended up at a local liquor store wanting a couple sodas. We hadn’t even made it to the soda cooler when a voice from the front hollered, “We don’t serve your kind here. Get out.” We headed towards the voice to find out what our kind was. Our pictures were up on the wall behind the register, pictures that were taken at a distance but were clearly us. We asked what was going on. Well it turns out that since we had moved out to Sanctuary sales of alcohol and tobacco products had dropped to the point that someone actually took our pictures without us knowing it and hung them like Wanted Posters on the liquor store wall. They had been losing two to three hundred dollars a week in sales and the store owners were blaming us. At no point did we push our beliefs on others we just did what we do and didn’t use alcohol or tobacco products.
Our examples, all of us, Sweets, myself, you the reader of this post influence people everyday.
How are you influencing people is it for the good or the bad?
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Yours faithfully, Sweets & Elroy