Cold is not the right word to describe Friday. I went out wearing three layers of clothes plus an overcoat and that didn’t keep the chill from slicing through all the layers as if they weren’t even there. Still, there were people waiting for us when we arrived downtown on Friday.
We got the heater set up quickly and began to serve the hot cappuccino. Jerred prayed and the bowls of hot food were passed out the window to the people at the window. It wasn’t too long before we opened the back of the truck to hand out thermal underwear, socks, gloves, hats, coats, blankets, pants, and long sleeve shirts.
After everyone had what they needed, Jerred gathered everyone around the heater and led the group in a prayer.
People were venturing off to find warmth as we packed up our table, chairs and heater. As soon as everything was packed away on the truck, we went to the C-store.
Our first stop of the night was to the bus station. There were people lined up to board a bus but an employee of the bus station made an announcement that the people in line could come out to the food truck to get food and then return. A line of grateful, hungry people flooded out of the doors where they had been waiting. As they came to the window of the food truck, we heard exclamations that we were an answer to their prayers and others saying that we came at the perfect time. I know that those people saw the goodness of God on this frigidly cold Friday night.
When we had fed everyone who wanted food at the bus station, we drove over to the bridge where we usually find people staying. There were four people there and we took the bowls of food and hot cappuccino out to them so that they could stay under their piles of blankets.
Our next stop was at a bar downtown. People came out from the bar and also from the apartments situated above the bar. We served bowl after bowl until we were scraping the last little bits from the inside of the food container.
Two of our team members were able to minister to the man in the orange hat outside the bar.
As always, the food is our gauge to tell when the night is over. We had served the last bowl of food and so we headed back to the C-store. I prayed to close the night and our team members went to their cars to go home.
The night wasn’t over yet for Jerred and me. We were taking Andy (a homeless young man) to a motel because he was getting married the next day. First, we drove him over to his camp so that he could put his bicycle up where a friend could watch it for him. After that, we got on the expressway to go to the motel where Andy’s future father-in-law would pick him up for the wedding the next day.
As we were checking Andy into the motel, Jerred started a conversation with the desk clerk. She mentioned that she would like to have our contact information because she had some friends who were homeless and currently staying with her and they had a dog. I asked if she needed some dog food and then went and got a gallon bag from the truck. She was blessed and so thankful for that dog food.
We took Andy over to his room and he tried the key but the door wouldn’t open. I got out to see if the key would work for me. As we tried the key again and again, a man came out to the walkway above Andy’s room and started yelling, “We don’t want to be found!” (The truck has the Search & Rescue logo on it)
Jerred yelled back, “You better hide behind your pillow then.” They both chuckled. I told Andy that we better go to the office to get his key fixed and we started to walk that way.
The man on the walkway asked Jerred if we had any food and Jerred told him that we were out. Next the man asked if we had any clothes. I sent Andy to the office to take care of the key and went back to the truck to pull clothes for the man as Jerred told him to come down to the truck and tell us his sizes.
Two men came down to the truck and a woman stayed up in the room. They called out sizes and I pulled out the things that they asked for. Each man got socks, a pair of jeans, a long sleeve shirt and a jacket. The woman got a pair of jeans, a long sleeve shirt, socks, and a pair of boots. One of the men went back up to their room and the other stayed and talked to Jerred. He had just gotten out of jail and pronounced that he used to be addicted to meth but he was done with that now. He told Jerred that he knew that God had things for him to do. Before the man went back up to his room, he let Jerred pray with him and he got Jerred’s phone number.
I chuckled to myself about how I had thought our night of ministry was over 45 minutes ago. I’m glad I was wrong.