Bringing Shalom to the City….

stories from CityTeam International in Oakland, CA

Starting to Feel a Little Like Home…

Written by Samuel Garcia

June 28

You know that feeling when you feel like you’ve just begun to feel situated to your new surroundings?  Well, surprisingly, Oakland is starting to feel like home to me, Corrie, and Jordan.  It’s kind of weird, too. When we first came, I was pretty repelled by the residents.  Our space was cramped in what was an already antiquated building, early-morning breakfast at 5am was unthinkable, let alone hard to swallow, the rough attitudes and abrasive guys were hard to deal with, the homeless people were difficult to serve and love, but I’m starting to get used to it all, to the routine and the stories of hope that I hear from the men here at CityTeam.  After Corrie, Jordan and I came back from Jack London Square today, we felt at-home coming back to our tiny, mouse-infested room. haha.

Today there was a bomb threat around the corner from CityTeam.  There was a bomb squad and everything that came to detonate whatever was sitting right in front of Salvation Army.  Just another day in the neighborhood.  Also, there was an apparent fight right outside the kitchen where the homeless folks  were lined up before dinner. Only at CityTeam.

Yesterday as I walked out to check a store right in front of CityTeam, I was confronted by a man that that was telling me “Don’t look at me, cuz I ain’t got no cigarettes…I know that look when I see it”.

It was funny, not just because I wasn’t even looking for cigarettes, but because just for coming out the front door of the complex I was tagged as something unlikeable to society.  I can admit, I used to think that way about the guys who live here–low-lives, hopeless cases, abrasive personalities.  Now, I am marked as one of them, not just because we cook, clean, eat, do bible study, and work with them, but just for the mere fact that we walk out of the same building.  Now I’ve got to think twice before I judge anyone, because these guys are actually pretty nice to us.  We joke around, they look out for us, they’re open to sharing their stories, and even ask us about how we’re doing.  That’s crazy!!Image

June 27

So there were some church “volunteers” in the soup kitchen today, and it was humbling walking through the same line as the homeless people, extending out our trays, and getting a big slop of mystery meat, corn, and a piece of bread. I wonder if they think I’m another homeless individual, or even just another addict in the program.  I wonder what they’re thinking of me, what stereotypes, reflections, attitudes they have towards these people I now live with.  Man, it’s different seeing things from the other side of the line.  It was truly hard swallowing some humble pie tonight.

We also got put to work again in the basement today, which is now in the process of being converted into a closet for folks without clothes. The conditions are pretty bad down there, cuz there’s no ventilation, so it gets hot and humid, and, now that I think of it, it really smells like mold.  I feel mucus building up in my throat if I stay there too long. I hope they don’t put me down there too much more this summer.  It’s starting to look good, though!

Please pray for…

*the guys that live here, as they overcome their addictions

*new eyes to see people

*team dynamics

*CityTeam funding for new equipment and supplies

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