February 26, 2010
Yesterday was quite a day. After rushing around getting dressed, doing dishes, and generally getting ready to go, I walked quickly (pulling my trusty granny cart loaded with eggs and pigs-in-blankets and a big thermos of hot water etc) to outdoor street church coffee time. It was probably around freezing (0 C) but felt warm as for once there was no wind (till the last few minutes – brrrrrr!) and the sun was actually peeking over the hilltops, drying up the world. Much warmer than the previous morning with its wet snow!
(Did I mention how much fun I had the previous morning, in the wind and wet snow, digging little channels in the dirt to drain away the big puddle beside the serving table at the outdoor breakfast? Made my inner child very happy! And one of the guys helped me! It was great!)
Anyway, yesterday after coffee/ breakfast I went to work. I was determined to finish some minutes from a meeting a week previous. Of course I had already typed up my own notes, but the meeting was important, so I had to “fill in the blanks” in my notes, from a recording that had been made… I think it could turn out to be a really positive (mostly!) landmark kind of meeting, if only people will really pay attention to what each one said. So many good – Godly! – thoughts presented… but oh my goodness, a few chaotic minutes at the end, which, if people choose to dwell on that part, could threaten to block out all the wisdom which came before. Oh Father, let them focus on the Godly words!
Well, maybe I could have finished on time if I had no interruptions. So many days I am there all alone, very quiet… but of course on a “deadline” day things got a bit crazy. Many emails, phone calls, other people coming in to also work in the office, and being asked to look through old files to find information.
About 10 a.m. a lady came in, all frantic, crying and apparently having an asthma attack, and even upchucking a bit, saying she’d been raped and her legs broken and such… I tried to phone the street pastor, but couldn’t find his number, and by the time I found it, she’d gone back out into the street…
Anyway, when 1 pm came, which is supposed to be the end of my work day, I wasn’t anywhere near finished the minutes, never mind that I also had not started the weekly bulletin which also had to be done, so another lady who was in the office with me, offered to stay for a few minutes till I finished up, and give me a ride home.
But then the street woman came back, and she was really frantic. She said she was a crack addict, and needed to talk to an addictions counselor right away. I phoned the addictions counseling office up the street, and told them I would be walking her up to their office. But then she collapsed on the floor, and apparently was having a severe asthma attack, and seemed to become unconscious. So then I phoned 9-1-1 and they sent the ambulance. By the time the ambulance arrived, the woman on the floor seemed to be back to semi-consciousness, and they were trying to help her, but when one of the ambulance attendants, a man, touched her, she totally freaked out and was yelling, rolling around, swearing. Then a lady attendant tried to help and got an even worse reaction. So then they phoned the police, and we had to step out of the office for our own safety. Finally the lady got up and stumbled out the front door just as the police arrived. The ambulance people told us to lock the door, which we did, and I went back into the office to finish the minutes and bulletin – which took till 3 pm! Meanwhile the police were outside dealing with the woman for probably close to an hour.
My friend who was in the office with me stayed, and drove me home; her car was parked right outside the office door, and she didn’t want to see me take a chance walking home in case that woman was still out on the street and recognized me. We were chatting about the incident, and remarking that incidents like this show how important it is that the church of Christ has a strong presence in the streets of our cities, especially in the downtown areas where many street people live their lives. The street pastor in our community will not let us women work alone in street ministry without a strong, trained man or men alongside us, because of these kinds of dangerous situations. But at the same time, there really is a need for Godly women also reaching out to those in the streets. The family needs to be family, working together, reaching out and bringing God’s family to the lost and lonely, bringing them into the family too.