I think we had four people in the new house for only a few days...in a three day period it filled up so quick. Sixteen people there now, and Naomi has twelve here. Both houses are four bedrooms with bunk-beds in all of them 'cept one room, and that is the one kept for family ( Mom, Dad, kids). So impor-tant to keep family together so the kids will feel secure with parents right there.
Last week we sent off our last "family" to their own apartment, and the last two single Moms who moved in together with their three kids. They got the added help they needed from the Baptist Church who kinda adopted them. It was so beautiful to watch this story unfold more each day, to see God's hand in all of it. One of the girls is named Maria Rosa who is 19 and has a one year old daughter. She is a former gang member, has tattoos all over her body. Naomi and I were sitting with a group of people we had taken food and warm clothing to one night. Lol, yep its true what you see on TV.....those giant barrels are filled with wood and fired up to keep warm, and its like having your own personal Franklin stove to keep you warm....also to warm food up. This group I am talking about was mostly teens, thirteen to some in their early twenties. Most were black, the rest were Mexicans. Some were sharing their stories with us on why they were living on the streets and what its been like for them out there. They are sad, angry, and confused kids, most with no hope at all, all accepting this is what the rest of their life was going to be. Maria was sitting quietly saying nothing, her baby asleep in her arms. She never looked up once while everyone was talking. As I looked at her I saw Mary holding Baby Jesus, remembering how there was no room for her in the inn. I thought of Candi bringing the twins home after birth, and how all of us fussed over her and the babies, how much love she had surrounding her whole person, and Maria had no one, she was living on the streets with a little baby, no diapers, no baby food, no bottles or diaper bag carrying all these things. It broke my heart.
I asked the group if they wanted a better life then what they had now. They laughed. One asked, " you asking us to go home?" Nope! Just asking you guys to allow me to give you the gift God wants each of you to have. Its free, won't cost you anything because Jesus already paid the price for each of you, for Naomi, for me, the whole world " God already filled your stomachs tonight, He has given you warm clothing and even the fire we are all using to warm ourselves.... so I am asking if you will give HIM a little bit of your time in return and listen to what He wants me to tell you?" Agree! ( lol where else were they going to go to stay warm?) :)
Naomi and I shared the Gospel News with them, we passed four Bible Studies to each one, and we stayed for four hours more answering questions and just talking about the Lord. God's timing was perfect, it was a very cold night, the wee hours of the morning, a bit foggy, quieter then usual and the sound of sirens far off in the distance. It was like we were the only people awake. The sharing from so many set a softer tone for the whole group. No one was using bad language anymore nor taunting each other, their hearts were softer. Most were receptive wanting to know more, but in the beginning they were looking for "right now" answers, those only the flesh was needing to hear. But after a few hours they understood the difference between the flesh and the Spirit. ( Maria never asked one question nor opened her mouth to say anything)
Out of the seventeen in the group, nine received the Lord that night. In the following three weeks we got those nine into churches.... five in the same church... and of the nine, seven were taken in by church members, the other two remained on the streets, and I visit them every chance I get.
When we left the group that night, I went over and sat down by Maria. I did not say anything to her, just felt the need to hug her, so I put my arms around her, told her she was loved and that God had sent Naomi and I to bring her and her baby home with us. She never said a word, just leaned into my arms and cried, oh Dad how she cried. This hard-core tattooed sister was a replica of me long ago, no trust, no hope, but longing for better for her baby. I helped her up, she did not pull away, just followed me....the group watching, broke into shouts and hi-fives, calling out to Maria to take care, you go babe, and God wants you home! Some hugged, some simply touched her shoulder, some said " come back and see us Weda".
It was like 4am when we got to Naomi's. Oh Dad, the baby was crying and scared, she was so filthy as was Maria, and Maria seemed like she was in a daze, but later I realize she was exhausted and totally worn down physically. Naomi got a bath going for Maria and I bathed the baby in the kitchen sink where it was warmest. The baby had on a blanket sleeper and her diaper was a dirty shirt. Her hair had lice not the nits, and she had a bad diaper rash. She did not fight me bathing her, she got very calm as soon as she was in the warm water. She only cried a little bit when I put the lice stuff in her hair. We have a prescription for "Quell" (misspelled) as very often many on the streets do get lice.
We got the baby powdered up and in warm pj's as well as Maria. After getting tucked into bed both fell asleep almost as soon as their heads touched the pillow. God Bless them!
The very next evening Maria was with us, right after dinner, everybody got up from the table and left the room... few minutes later they all came back setting baby items on the table in front of Maria. Clothes, diapers, shoes, baby shampoo, lotion, powder etc.... Maria sat there, tears streaming down her face. She looked up at everybody but every time she tried to say thank you she would start crying again. Most cried with her. She was very touched as I was at the love all were giving her.
A week after Maria came home with us, I wanted to go down to the South side where I heard there was a family living in a small group of trees by the freeway... but its a really rough area and I knew better then to go alone. I have a very close friend, a black man they call " Bruiser," who often goes with me to the rougher areas. He knew where the place was I wanted to go so he went with me. There was no "family" there when we were there, but there was a twenty year old black girl living there with her two kids, a one year old and a two year old. They had been living there for several months. After visiting with her an hour or so, I talked her into coming home with me where she and the kids would be safe. We put her in the same room with Maria, they hit it off right away, both having kids, both from the streets etc. They helped Naomi in the house, they did the cleaning and helped with all the cooking, dishes etc. The three kids were such a joy to have around, always getting into everything, so full of energy. Everybody just fell in love with them, everybody baby-sat and changed diapers. :)
Maria and Dodie ( the black girl) came to the Bible studies and prayer times. I think living in a house where most are Christians living a Christian life, was the beginning for them to see there are people we can trust, and the more they studied Bible the more they dared "hope." It was exactly seven weeks after Maria came home to Naomi's that she received the Lord along with Dodie. It was like watching a sleeping flower come alive in the light of the sun, and of course our Jesus IS that light shining on His own.
After her salvation, Dodie starting looking for a church...she found a black Baptist church which she attends regularly and is now active in it. Maria only remembers being told she was baptized a Catholic but never went to church. She started attending church with Dodie and goes regular.
Dodies church helped both girls find jobs. Dodie works at a Dry Cleaners and Rachel works at ( believe it or not) a Car Window Tinting place. Seems she did a lot of that as well as Painting on Car Designing. So they pooled their money, found a two bedroom apartment, and moved in together. Members of their church donated furniture and other necessitates to help them set up house.
For the many people, men and woman, who have come and went with us, each has their story. I wish I had time to tell it all to you because there is so much inspiration in each story. I look back to each who has been here living with us and left, and I see of course, God's hand moving always. My cup for sure runneth over, and I am blessed by the Lord who has allowed my eyes to witness the daily miracles He performs for His children.
My friend Bruiser who has gone with me to many dangerous places and protected me, is not a Christian. We speak of the Lord often, but he feels he has done things God will not forgive him for. I have asked him to share with me some of those things, but he tells me my ears would explode if I knew and he is unwilling for this to happen. I pray so hard for Bruiser that he will hear God's voice and open his heart. He is a wonderful man, so kind and gentle to everyone, so ready to help any who need it. How I met him is a miracle in itself.
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