It’s been two months since my last post but it’s because we’ve had our nose to the grindstone. A good bit of what we’ve been doing is all of the behind the scenes planning and strategizing which wouldn’t make for a very exciting blog post, but boy has it sure been a lot of work. Board development, fundraising, hiring, and more. We are tilling the metaphorical soil and can’t wait for the fruit. It is coming!
In the meantime, we are doing everything that we can for our homeless friends. It has been such a hard summer on them. So many have ended up in the hospital for heat related injury among other health issues. It is so hard to see them suffering while we await the day when we can welcome them home. I had the opportunity to go out on the Breaking Bread breakfast truck yesterday morning and it was so good to catch up with everyone, but gosh some of our friends are just wasting away, and it’s so hard not to think about them becoming ever nearer to the same heartbreaking end as our sweet Lois, dying alone on the street.
The days have been long for me lately, but mostly spent in the office by myself; trying to build out this organization and becoming more disconnected from the pulse of the streets than I would like. To be transparent, for various reasons its been one of the hardest seasons of my life. We’ve been burning the candle at both ends for a couple of years and it finally caught up with me. Anxiety and depression crept in with the pressure, lack of sleep, and poor diet and they have become pretty constant companions. I’m working to address it and I am hopeful. It’s been tough, but in real life outside the filters of Instagram, this stuff happens to people. If and when it happens to you its ok to not be ok. If you’re ever struggling, there’s no shame in telling someone and asking for help. Right now, someone you know is having a hard time so just know that your friendship and encouragement really matter to those around you. My family and community have been such a grace to me.
As I’ve been in this season, I’ve often considered what it would feel like for some of my homeless friends to feel anxious or depressed while they’re out on the street, which honestly is inevitable in that environment. What insurmountable despair they must feel when there seems to be no hope, and nobody who cares. It’s no wonder the suicide rate among the homeless is up to 6 times higher than that of those who are housed. If I put myself in their shoes, I can see how easy it would be to become part of that statistic. Just a few short years ago one of our homeless friends succumbed to the despair and stepped in front of a train. Our mission as much as anything is to be bearers of hope.
It makes me grateful all the more for my home, but more importantly for the numerous people who deeply care for me. It really proves the point that we as part of this movement stress so much; that “housing will never solve homelessness, but community will”-Alan Graham. By God’s grace I’m getting respite and relief, but with that comes an even stronger sense of urgency to help those in suffering find it too.
In the coming weeks, even though we haven’t started building our village, we will have the opportunity to do just that. Just yesterday we got to celebrate with our friend D., now formerly homeless and recently came to my rescue when my car was dead, as she purchased her first vehicle in over 5 years. Our other friend P. was denied housing through a program she was in and was facing unsheltered on-the-street homelessness by the end of August. P. is a kind woman, small in stature, gentle and soft spoken. I absolutely could not imagine her out on the mean hot streets of this city. P. is part of the recovery community and they have proven to deeply care about her. She is being given an RV and The Field’s Edge has the privilege to step in and help. The Lord has provided us with someone to deeply impact, and to pilot our application process. The goal is to lift her off the streets and walk her through our process so that eventually she will move out with us at the village into a tiny home of her own. She has had a steady job for over a year and a vehicle, so God has really blessed us with some great advantages that make it so natural for us to step in and help. She is so excited for her new place. She was showing me pictures and grinning from ear to ear but more than anything she is relieved that she will not be out on the street alone.
That said there are approximately 100 other unsheltered homeless folks who have been suffering in this August heat. I can’t even manage to keep from complaining when I walk between my air-conditioned office, to my air-conditioned vehicle, and back into my air-conditioned home. Our mission is so urgent, yet we are quite a ways out and its painful to have to wait. There are two people in particular who are in dire straits, and we as a board are in overdrive trying to figure out housing for them. I’ve known both of them since 2012, and they’re tough folks. They’ve slept the vast majority of their nights outside over the last decade. Heat, ice, rain, wind and all, but this is the first time in 7 years that they themselves have said to me that they are scared that they won’t make it through the winter. I know that if they are admitting to that, it’s serious.
When we talk about homelessness, it’s like we understand that it’s happening, but it’s this amorphous thing that is somewhere out there in the ether. Unless we know someone experiencing it, it’s just hard to imagine. And I don’t want to fault anyone for not intimately knowing the struggle of homelessness, because I know that I’ve been given a unique opportunity to give my life to it, but from me to you, these are real people. People created in the image of God, just like you and me. If you only take one thing from this post, let it be that the homeless are valuable, they have dignity, and they matter. Let me challenge you that when you’re outside today in the 100+ degree heat and the sweat is rolling down your back, to stop and pray for the people in our city who are sitting out there, hopefully in some kind of shade, feeling less than human and that nobody would care if they died.
The two I mentioned above who I would consider the most vulnerable homeless people in Midland need our help. I’m so thankful to say that we are going to do everything in our power to see to it that they do not have to spend another winter outside, and that the nights of being afraid to go to sleep for fear of not waking up will come to an end for them. It’s a small dent in the overall problem, but an immeasurable impact on two eternally valuable human lives. Please pray that we would be able to find a way to lift them off the street and to come around them and be their family while we wait for the construction of our village.
To give you a timeline, our goal is to raise the remaining funds for Phase I by year end 2019 which would have us breaking ground about June of 2020. Construction is estimated to take approximately 1 year, so it is our hope to be moving in to our beautiful master planned permanent supportive tiny home community by June of 2021. In the meantime, we are working to ease the suffering and lift up everyone that we can. We have some really exciting news coming about an incredible new program that is in the works so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks.
Despite the suffering that we are in the middle of every day, there is such hope. Not in houses, or better circumstances, but hope in a future inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and kept in heaven for us. This hope purchased by Christ is what drives us and keeps our heads lifted and working to see His will carried out here on earth as it is in heaven. There will be a day when homelessness is no more and we long for that. This work is hard, but it is worth it, and we couldn’t do it without the help and support of our community. So, to all of you who are behind us praying and giving, we are so very grateful. Thank you for helping us to cultivate home.