This final post is post is just a collection of personal anecdotes from our time in Philly.
Reggie: Walking down the street near Old St. Joseph’s Church, we ran into Reggie, a homeless man looking for a few bucks for dinner. As we began chatting with him and Andy told him his name, he shouted, “You… you Andy Reid! That ain tended to be offensive, he’s a good guy, just made the wrong calls at the wrong time, and you his son- HAHA!” We chatted with Reggie about life on the streets and prayed with him, after which he said, “Boys I’m bout to cry, give me a hug.” As I went into hug him, he held me back, looked intently at me and said, “Who are you? Look at you, them glasses make you look SMART, you… Jimmy Carter!”
Steven: After arriving at the train station late Friday night, prior to catching the bus home, T-fro, Ollie, and I stopped to grab a snack at McDonalds. As we were sitting outside, a young guy walked up to us and asked what the difference was between our church and his church (he was Baptist). I explained to him a few of the differences- exactly zero of them seemed to register as relevant. Instead, we just started talking about life. He told us about his family, which was complicated: Steven lived with his father and stepmother along with a few half-brothers and sisters. However, down the street he has three brothers and sisters from his father and mother who he rarely sees, and five more half brothers and sisters from his mom and her new husband. In the midst of this, he remained grateful. He loved his stepmom, recalling how he had been born to his mother at nearly the exact moment his stepmom had suffered a miscarriage. She tells him an angel sent him to her.
We asked Steven what he planned to do when he graduated from high school this year; he said he would be heading off to college.
Q: Where would he be going and what would he study?
A: “Anywhere and anything man, all I know is two things man: I want to be happy, and I love money. So what I do needs to make me happy and make me lots of money; opportunities are everywhere, all I know is I’m gonna be makin’ moves.”
The conversation continued enjoyably for a time, we prayed together and Steven was on his way. This was one of the moving moments of the trip for me for two reasons: What does the Church have to say to the families in Steven’s situation, already so broken and complicated? (I guess in many ways that is the question of the synod) Second- and more provoking for me- what do I say to a kid like Steven when he tells me emphatically that he loves money? I could see this getting him into trouble in the future, but I had nothing to say in the moment.
Door Lady: Mike walked in the door of the hotel where his mom and sister were; the lady at the door greeted him politely,
“Good morning, father.”
Mike responded, “Hello ma’am, you have yourself a good day!”
She responded more warmly than before, “Okay, you too baby!”
I wanted to make a comment on the cops in Philly because I loved them.
Steve Dangerfield: perfect cop name- was the father of four and a faithful Baptist. As we were praying with him he got so excited he began strait-up preaching the word, calling down the Holy Spirit in fire and calling us to mission.
Tanya: She was the cop we met immediately after being told the wrath of God was upon us by some eccentric mega-phone “evangelists.” She was joyful and lighthearted and prayed with us for some time- then directed us to the least crowded gate.
Apart from that, the cops were just plain kind, laid-back, and had great accents.
Matthew: We got off at the 8th street station and shortly thereafter met a substantial homeless population. There we met Matthew who had been on the streets four months after losing his job and eating up his savings. He proceeded to tell us of the repeated rejection he experienced from the churches around town- Catholic and non-Catholic- and even more the rejection of the people of Philly. He calculated on average he made $2 an hour begging on the streets. He claimed to be totally sober and appeared so to me. Yet, in a sad moment, he complained about how much money the disabled and permanently homeless made when begging, saying most of them had chosen their state while he was still fighting against it. This comment, like Steven’s comment about loving money, had a deep impact on me, and I didn’t know what to say.
Those are a few notable encounters from our time in Philadelphia; I don’t have time to put to text the many others.
Thank you again for all the support- whether it was prayer, financial support, or just reading and sharing our blog. Our Blessed Lord surely has more adventures planned for The Helena Boys!
Peace in Christ,