I recently heard someone share this story and I love it; it's so representative of what I've been experiencing and learning here in this DTS.
I've really been able to form some cool relationships with people on the streets here in Auckland that I'd like to share with you guys. The first guy is Marco. He's a garbage man from Fiji, he doesn't live on the streets he just works them. Every morning on my way to school I see him collecting garbage. One morning I walked by and I just decided to say hello, he looked kinda sad and it's just a habit to say hello to people in passing. But the way his face lit up when I did made me want to make an effort to do it again. So the next day I did and I got to talk to him a little bit. When I went to shake his hand he couldn't because he had gloves on so he offered his elbow and so we bumped elbows; it's kinda become our handshake now. Whether or not he has gloves on I still bump his elbow and he laughs and laughs and laughs. Seeing Marco every morning has become something I look forward to and cherish. He just lights up when he sees me coming, "OH GOOD MORNING! How you are?...Nice day....etc" We talk and laugh and just have begun to enjoy each other's company every morning. Sometimes I find myself leaving early for school so that I can have more time to talk to him.
The next guy is Bob. It's actually kinda funny how I got to meet Bob. I saw another friend from the streets by my hostel and I stopped to talk to her, Bob was sitting next to her and he stretched out his hand and said, "Hey I'm Bob!" Then I just kept seeing Bob everywhere. I see him so much that he knows me and remembers things I tell him about my life. Now Bob lives on the streets and is seen either on Queen St. or K Rd unashamedly begging for money. But this guy never fails to ask me how school is going, how my week's been, what I've been up to; he just wants to talk. Sometimes he'll ask me to sit down and just chill with him as he begs. But this man who lives on the streets did something really impacting yesterday; he gave me food. He had a sealed pack of Asian crackers and tried to get me to take them. I said, "No Bob I've got plenty of food, you keep them." I had a can of baked beans in my purse and I tried to offer him those but he didn't want that. He wanted me to take his food, he wanted to bless me. He finally said, "If you don't take them I'm going to throw them away." Realizing that he needed to feel like he had something to offer, rather than always being in need, I took the crackers and thanked him. I asked him if he had enough bus fare to make it "home". He said he'd be alright. I looked and realized that he clearly would not be so I took whatever change I had and put it in there and he got upset with me. It was as if I just had breached a line. I've given him money in the past but it's not what he wants from me anymore and I think that he no longer sees me as a rubber-necker who throws change at him but as his friend and he wants my friendship not my change. I was so incredibly impacted by this, I still am.
It's changing how I relate to people on the street. Marco and Bob are showing me that what people want most is relationships. They want the love that can only come through a friendship. And for people that feel like the whole world is working against them and that they can't get ahead; to have someone who comes and sits and talks with them, it gives them hope and it gives them dignity. It encourages and strengthens them. I can see the change in their eyes. I see the change in their demeanor after we've talked. It's just incredible what a difference it makes. I think I'm finding what it means to be Jesus to people. And as much as I'd like to thing that it's changing people, all I can say for certain is that it's touching people and it's changing me.
|Karangahape Road in the 50s|