You can learn a lot from a person less fortunate than yourself. All you need to do is develop a relationship.
If you have been receiving these updates for a while you will remember Larry, my friend who begs on the street. I see him every week and stop to talk and have dinner sitting on the sidewalk not far from his little room at the Rosslyn Hotel.
A lot has happened in his life since I first introduced you to him. He took in a woman and her baby who were transitioning for a week so they didn’t land on the street. That week he told me he had to work longer hours on the street to pay for diapers.
We introduced him to a local church within a block of his home and steps from where he is stationed each day with his cardboard sign and plastic cup. He was selling candles and flowers at the catholic church down the way every other Sunday so he said he’d attend the following week. He did. And he liked the pastor’s message a lot. They are going through the book of revelation so he decided he won’t be selling flowers for now because he wants to go to the church every week to hear the pastor’s sermons.
Betty and I took him to lunch at a local restaurant after his first Sunday and we had a wonderful talk. He opened up quite a bit about his sordid past and many things in his life that brought him shame and regret. Just listening to him I learned lesson one: Vulnerability.
Larry had grown up an angry and ornery young man. He also shared how he came to know Christ in prison and a lot of his anger left him. Today he is slow to anger and comes across quite gentle spirited and good-natured. Life Lesson two: God can transform us through our trials.
I noticed his pants were worn and he wears the same ones every day. So we took a little walk over to the discount clothing store a few blocks away and for $7.99 got him a sweet pair of jeans he now wears every day. Life Lesson three: Travel light in this world… it reduces stress!
As we walked I asked him who he hangs out with day to day. He responded, “nobody”. I asked him who his best friend was and he surprised me by saying, “You are my best friend because you come by to talk to me on a regular basis.“ Life Lesson four: People need to be known.
By the way, I saw him this week and he had a little dog he had rescued from an abusive owner. He named him Rebel. Larry can relate to abuse and rebellion… a fitting name for his new companion.
As we were talking this week a woman came by pushing an ice cream cart. Larry said she rents it from a company then stocks it herself and sells to people along the streets of Los Angeles. It’s how she survives. She didn’t speak any English but I relied on my two years of Spanish from H.S. to ask her name. “Lily”, she responded.
Lily proceeded to put a dollar bill in Larry’s cup and gave him an ice cream sandwich for good measure. But the thing she gave him that I was most impressed with was… a smile. They couldn’t communicate with words but when she smiled, Larry lit up. Life Lesson five: A smile and a good will gesture communicate louder than any words. It’s not really that difficult to make a poor person’s day!
- Pastor Dan
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