Christmas Eve night is our annual outreach to the homeless. The guys in the Casa Restauracion (Restoration House) prepare meals to give to those known or unknown who live in the streets. It's a time for the guys to reflect on how different their lives have become and the opportunity given to them to escape life in the streets. This year there were 15 of us along with 3 toddlers who ventured out on 8 triciclos to distribute meals, pray for and give encouragement to anyone we found who was alone.
Immediately, when we began our journey we encountered difficulties. We had not gone more than 1 block from the Casa when a drunk motorist stopped, got out of his vehicle and began to berate one of the drivers of the triciclo's. It got quite heated and threats were made. When someone made a statement to call the police, the driver quickly got back into his car to leave. We went a second block only to have a horrendously loud sound scare us. Nowadays we are all anxious about sounds of guns and mortars. After searching all our triciclos for possible blown tires, we discovered that it was a tire from a vehicle that we passed had blown at the same moment. Before starting on the journey, we all had prayed for safety and the individuals that would be recipients of a meal. It was now time to offer up prayers for the triciclos and any opposition.
One of our first stops was to go to a police station to pass out meals to everyone who was working the nightshift. Wilber, the director of the Casa, is well known at the station for various reasons. In years past he was a regular detainee. Now he goes to either deal with regulatory issues or rescue others that found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
The faces on the streets and in the alleys have become familiar to us. One man in particular was still in his same spot for the last three years. We found him preparing his "bed" for the night by laying out large pieces of cardboard for him to lie on.
This boy is especially dear to me, I've known him all the years I have lived in Nicaragua. Freddy was a very young boy living on the streets when I first met him. He's grown into a young man still living on the streets, but his life is deteriorating. He's smart, knows adequate English, but doesn't seem to want any type of restoration. He use to live off the money tourists would give to him, but they no longer come. Now he chooses to inhale glue to overcome his hunger and misery. I wonder how numbered his days might be.
There was one man who was quite angry and wanted NOTHING from us. There were two young boys living in the market place inhaling their glue and became so grateful for the food and touch. There was a woman who praised us for giving her food and asked if we had any additional clothing she might have. This year there were many encounters. We passed out 165 meals this season.
Normally we pass by many houses where people are celebrating in and outside of their decorated homes. The celebrations were fewer this year. The entire atmosphere of the areas we traveled through were sad. You could feel it. We all sensed a difference in the air. There is no way of knowing how many had either lost a loved one during the massacres, or maybe they are one of the 400,000 who have lost their job.
I want to speak to you about touch. In the years past, our guys would always tell me "Honey, don't touch them, they are very dirty". (Have I ever told you that Honey is what they call me?). Well, this year I didn't hear it one time because they know I ignore the warning. So many of the people we encounter never feel a touch. For me, it is important that I connect with them in this way. I hope that when they are lonely, they remember that there was a white woman who saw past the dirt to touch and hug them.
Here's a funny..... I really was looking forward to going home to take a shower; this year I felt especially dirty, dusty and soiled. I have 2 fears in my life now, both of them have to do with the shower. The first is being in the shower during an earthquake. The second is being in the shower with no water. Well the second one happened to me. I was all lathered up when the water stopped, the community tank had run dry. I was not able to wash off the dirt and grime nor remove the suds. I have white towels for a reason, they are easier to bleach and this particular towel certainly needed it after wiping me off.