If yesterday wasn’t early enough, this morning started at 520AM.
We started the morning still in the cover of darkness as we pulled away from the building and made our way towards downtown Phoenix. The sun was just beginning to come up when we turned a corner just past the AZ State Capitol building and arrived at CASS – Central Arizona Shelter Services. The area has a couple building that have some crisis beds, as well as basic healthcare, but the big draw is an empty ashphalt parking lot that is completely fenced, and gets opened every night. Each night, literally hundreds of homeless grab whatever covers they have and sleep on the pavement of this parking lot. Every morning Dream Center has a team that shows up with breakfast and coffee. It used to be that the police would come by and by daybreak be dispersing everyone out of the area for the day, but as a direct result of PDC’s outreach – and their willingness to clean up the area every morning as well – the police have extended to allow everyone to get something for breakfast.
Which is how Dawn and I found ourselves on garbage duty. Myself on the poker stick, Dawn dutifully toting the garbage bag. Which was all great and fine, and we were getting along quite well, until I picked up what looked a dark blackish-brown piece of “garbage”. It was not until I had it over the bag that we caught the smell and put two and two together.
Dawn, bless her heart, continued to carry the bag, only occasionally complaining. We are headed back to CASS in the morning again…. I have yet to find a willing partner for garbage duty.
The kids were fantastic though. For something they were all nervous about, CASS ended up being a highlight of the day for many of them.
After we got back and had breakfast of our own, we got to do bible study with the PDC Discipleship crew again, and then I enforced a mandatory 90 minute nap before lunch. After lunch we headed out to a park, and had a chance to pray for people, hand out hygiene and food packs to those who needed them, and was a huuuuuge step outside of their comfort zone that your kids handled beautifully.
After getting back from the park, it was directly into the van to head out to another children’s outreach, this time in a run down townhouse complex. Was fun to watch our crew of students jump right in, playing games, chasing kids, and having a blast.
After that it was back to the Center for supper, and then Wednesday night church. So cool to see the community and support that is being provided here. Plus, music was led by a 60 year dude with a long silver ponytail with an Aussie cowboy hat, a bolo tie who sand a rock/gospel/country/soul mix, and whose only discernible name was “Gator”. Uh-May-Zing.
I recorded some audio. Otherwise, no one would believe me.
We had a great discussion after about God’s incredible ability to restore and bring incredible good out of our own sinfulness, and even a chance to affirm students in their own gifting, rather than simply looking at the abilities of others and feeling insecure. Fun day… now to bed and start all over again in the morning. We get to wrap up the day tomorrow heading out to a First Nations reservation for a children’s outreach, so our crew is more than excited for the morning!
To wrap up tonight, here’s a quick update form Cassie (Penner) and Karleigh (Unruh) who both wanted to share the same story… so they did it together:
We had a fantastic day where God showed us many different things. First thing in the morning we woke up bright and early to head out to a place called cast. This neighbourhood was home to many homeless people. As we drove in we were stunned to see how many people there were waiting for us on the streets. Once we settled we were given nifty clamps to pick up garbage. A big highlight of our day was taking a walk to the park and telling people about God. We met a 12 year old boy named Jay. He saw everyone with our signs and introduced himself. We were both shocked at the amount of confidence he had to come up to us and talk to complete strangers. This was one of the things that impacted us the most. The last and best part of our day was at a children’s outreach. The kids were more than willing to participate in the songs and teaching. After eating hotdogs we all were running around playing tag. We bonded with the kids in a way we didn’t think we would. It was very hard for us to say goodbye. Between these outreaches and stuffing Mitchell’s beard with flowers and throwing a ball at a ceiling fan for an hour it was truly an amazing day and we are very excited to see what God has in store for us for the rest of the week.
PS: Shout out to Mom and Dad (Gary and Maxine) and Mom and Dad (Steve and Gayle)
Playing with the kids at the park
Timeout from Freeze Tag during chidrens outreach
Townhouse unit where we did the children’s outreach
common area of townhouse unit which served as freeze tag and 500up grounds
CASS as we were getting ready to leave