Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One Thing After Another

I know at times I admit that I get frustrated with people who seem to stop living and ultimately quit with life. We have gone downtown during the summer every week to hand out cold bottled water. Seldom do I ever see the same person and only once has someone actually called me to follow through. Much in the same sense this last week I was around a couple of different individuals who gave up on living. I can’t fathom want it would be like to want to take your own life but on the same weekend I was around people who were at the end of their ropes.

I understand in my own life the sense of having too much to do, little time and little resources. I have gotten involved with being my dad’s caretaker and it pushes me to my limits. I assume too much, have to be the ‘bad guy’ at times and then there is always something that needs to be done.

I had never met Ricardo until last Wednesday when he went to the pool with a group from New City/Barrio Nuevo. I had been told by a few that he had just been beaten up and needed some help and maybe even a place to stay. We talked a little bit and he didn’t seem to far out but then who can tell a person’s real heart.

We went out for dinner with some great friends on Friday night at an Ethiopian Restaurant. I got a few calls from one of my kids and finally got the message that Ricardo was in the hospital. So I called and got the impression that he wasn’t there or he had a different name. After I realized that he was in the Behavioral Unit I got through. We talked a little. It ended up that a group of us went to see him on Sunday night after church. We were fortunate to be allowed to have a group of 8 visit with him, especially when most of them were minors.

I talked a little with him by himself and shared the gospel and asked his permission to talk more and bring some of the kids in to see him. He seemed like he was doing better but obviously had just attempted to overdose on meds a few days ago. We went by his apartment that night only to discover that someone had kicked down his door and ransacked his place.

I returned the following day to bring him his clean clothes, a Bible and a couple of books to read. We talked a little and I again prayed with him to help him get his focus on God. Now he is in a waiting pattern until the Hospital decides the best treatment.

We do live in a broken world where many are out to harm those who are different or that they just don’t like the way you look. I am learning that God values all life, especially those of the forgotten, orphan and widow. As I finished an e-mail to a friend that I had to cancel lunch he said, “Yeap, it is always one thing after another!”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

D___N Dog

It has been a crazy couple of weeks with great things happening but also unfortunate things taking place. My purpose in writing this blog is to talk briefly about how anger issues and tempers out of control cause sooo much drama and trouble.

Everyday as I drive around in my larger neighborhood there are always stray dogs and cats. My wife has the gift of picking up and caring for strays. It is never convenient and seldom do we find their owners. Sad to say many have been abandoned and left out on the street. As the summer temps begin to rise it is sad to see dogs literally dying from dehydration.

I always seem to find myself in the middle of a fight between different parties that I have been doing things with over the last couple of years. This last month there has been a dogfight between a couple of families that is truly sad. I know that it is easy for one family to loose a dog or cat then for another family to literally adopt the lost pet not knowing that a nearby neighbor is missing their beloved pooch. About eight months ago there was a stray little terrier that we found during the tutoring club. We ended up giving it to one of our families who has lots of dogs. The older teen in the house became very attached to it. The little pooch actually had puppies which were given to a good home of someone that lives in California. I really hadn’t thought much about the original owner of this little fluff ball.

Now the drama begins. The little mom runs away and is gone. We end up painting the house of another family in our group. As I am doing prep for this house I see a little pooch in their backyard that could be a twin of this other dog. We do a big volunteer push and have 70 plus people helping with this house and another and do a lunch in the adjacent park. It is during this time that the other family notices the dog and issues start to happen. It is only a few weeks after the house painting that the little pooch runs away and ends back at the other families’ house.

As the story unfolds we have a July 4th celebration with lots of people, waterslide, Phoenix Fire department and a barbecue lunch. I have a family emergency that day; my dad had broken his hip and is being taken into surgery at the last minute so I leave the party in the park in the capable hands of some great volunteers. After I get back that night I ask one of my board members how everything went. It was almost is if this was normal fare for the day he mentions that a fight erupted between two older ladies over a dog. The police were called but the crowd at the park didn’t seem to react.

It turns out that one of the families I am in the process of helping significantly and know that I am going to have to talk with them about the dog incident. Much like the other family is also involved in everything we do. So I end up talking with everyone amidst tears and screams. If all of this wasn’t enough, the dog escapes again and ends back up at the other family, who had cared for the dog and helped with its puppies. We are having a group from LA help with doing urban missions and it is during a lunch at this one house that a lady police officer knocks at the door and asks to talk with me. This other individual was now accusing someone of leaping her fence to take the dog. Ouch! What do I do I am in the middle of this and seriously don’t believe that anyone would do this. So because there is no evidence of anything the Police Officer leaves. The moment after she leaves I realize that the dog had run back to this house early in the morning. The dad of the house now takes charge and takes the dog back to the other house and attempts to explain the situation.

I know that forgiveness and reconciliation don’t happen easily and especially without God’s help. No I am assuming this other family won’t ever talk to me again but I end up helping them in a crisis and this person admits to their anger issues and overreacting in the situation. My hope now is to get everyone together to continue the process of reconciliation.

Yes, living in the hood has its moments where I want to scream and say God why can’t anyone be normal. Yet, if someone took my puppies or my big dog I wouldn’t be any different. I would fight to get them back and also be very emotional. The real issue at hand is why don’t we get just as worked up about the mess around us that we cause by our selfish and sinful actions. I think of Jesus’ response to Simon the expert in the law and the prostitute that the one who has been forgiven much can love much. So ergo the one who doesn’t admit to having an anger issue is less likely to understand and practice grace and mercy.

Grace and Peace - Dave