Monday, December 17, 2007
Merry Christmas, Danny & Brenda!
Today I have a Christmas story that I just have to share!
This Christmas our church decided to 'bless' the street people of our town... rather than putting on a big production as they have in the past. On Saturday night we hosted a banquet for street people...they were picked up in vans and brought to the 'banqueting table'. The response was overwhelming, and we can only hope that this show of compassion has some impact on these lives.
Yesterday (at the Sunday morning service) we were all encouraged to think of those around us who are hurting this Christmas season and 'be the hands of Jesus' to them. Many gifts for the less fortunate had been collected, and we were asked to take them with us and give them to those in need. Broni (our daughter-in-law, who lives next door) picked up a large blanket, and immediately thought that she would like it to go to Danny and Brenda, but where would she ever find them?
Now let me tell you about Danny & Brenda. We live on a farm out in the country, where we pretty much know and trust all our neighbours. Across the road from our place is a mobile home, which was once occupied by the hired help, but is now rented out. The tenants come and go! Last year Danny and Brenda moved into the trailer...we hoped they'd be moving along real soon. They had no car and no phone...now that's a bit of a problem when you are five miles from town. They decided that our phone would do, and came on a regular basis to borrow the phone. It seemed they were more or less illiterate and I would always look up the number for them and do the dialing...and often the talking too, when they could not make themselves understood. It became quite annoying...and I didn't much feel like showing compassion! Every day they walked to town...usually twenty paces apart and often on opposite sides of the road. They would push a grocery cart the entire way...sometimes we saw abandoned grocery carts beside the road.
On several occasions the police showed up at their doorstep. One night a distraught Danny came pounding on our door, afraid for his life because someone was trying to kill him. It was several days before Christmas...he was freezing cold and rather intoxicated. We called the police who asked us to keep him at our place until they arrived. "No...we did not sign up for this! These are not our tenants...how did this become our problem?" Those were my thoughts...but then again, what would Jesus do? It took a good hour for the patrol cars to arrive, and by that time Danny was beside himself! We had given him a blanket and some coffee and tried to calm him down. Once the police arrived, they took him off our hands and the crisis was over until another day. But we knew there would always be another crisis. We brought Danny and Brenda a basket of food for Christmas...it seemed there was only enough money for booze. Jeremy and Broni also gave them rides on occasion, and had opportunities to show their girls that not everyone in this life is as privileged as we are. Danny and Brenda were always grateful for our kindness.
Last February they were evicted from their trailer and needless to say, we were happy to see them go. It's so much easier to show love to the outcasts of our society when they're not in your own back yard! Since that time they have been living on the streets of our town, and are often seen pushing their grocery carts around town. So that's how we came to know Danny and Brenda.
(Although they lived next door for over a year, I have no photos of Danny and Brenda. They would have gladly posed for me, with their mismatched clothing and uncombed hair...sometimes with socks and no shoes. I think you get the picture!)
Now, back to my story. Here's what happened with the blanket. As Broni was leaving church she met Ron, who said he often saw Danny and Brenda near his workplace. He offered to take the blanket with him and maybe he would see them sometime this week and pass it along to them. If he didn't meet them before Christmas, the blanket would go to some other street person. So Ron left the churchyard with a big warm blanket in a large gift-bag.
He drove out of the parking lot, and within a block, Ron met Danny and Brenda pushing their cart along the sidewalk. He pulled up beside them, opened the trunk and gave them their Christmas blanket. Danny started to cry...he was overwhelmed by the kindness. I can only say that blanket was meant for Danny and Brenda. We live in a town of 70,000 people...how was it that they were at that spot yesterday morning? God only knows.
We all have Danny and Brenda's in our lives. It's often easier to look the other way. Let's bless them this Christmas and be the 'hands of Jesus' in their lives.