Today our team split up for a time...the majority passed out packets in a different part of town while five of us helped with a preschool activity. I was one of the five along with the two summer missionaries. We took crafts, puppets, and the guitar up (and I mean up) to Federal Hill where we simply sat in the shade and tried to capture the attention of any children and parents. There weren't that many, even though it was a beautiful morning, but there was a woman there with seven children she keeps in her home. Using the guitar case as a table, the children first played with sculpty clay. (The girl next to me made snails.) Then the puppets came out to be played with and to entertain in a very easy going way. The children were given paper bags and made their own puppets. My two daughters, our guitarist, and I led the children in several, what I call, "Sunday School" songs which they really enjoyed. Finally, some simple crafts were pulled out for the children to make. Though very laid back, it was a good morning. There were a couple other mothers with children at the park who were either too shy to join in, or just didn't want to. One of the most interesting people I met told how she got to Baltimore. She and her husband decided to move from their home in Atlanta to somewhere. To discover where, they hopped on their motorcycles and toured the country. They liked Baltimore and moved here twelve years ago. I could never picture myself riding around the country and picking out where to live without any job or security. I have to admire their courage and sense of adventure.
We basically had the afternoon free. Most of us went to the Inner Harbor to shop and look around. (Some stayed behind to play games.) My two daughters, a friend, and I meandered around the Harbor. At the mall a couple approached us asking if we knew of a shelter that would take them in. (Most shelters are either just for men or just for women.) They said no one in the mall had been helpful and no one would even give them water to drink. I say what I'm about to say not to pat myself on the back, but to confess my weaknesses....for a brief moment I wanted to give the vaguest of answers and not get involved. For a brief moment I wondered if these people were really needy or just playing on sympathies. For a brief moment I wanted to "pass by on the other side". Then I was reminded of why I was in Baltimore. How could I be excited about ministering at the Helping Up Mission, how could I be blessed by passing out ice cream and water at the homeless park and not respond Christfully to someone on the street. Can you put on and take off Christianity like a T-shirt? If you can, then you're not really a Christian. I told the couple that we were tourists in the area and didn't know of a place that took in both. But we'd be glad to buy them some water and a little something to eat. We walked together to the food court. My friend and I bought them some pizza and drinks and prayed with them before leaving. Instead of patting myself on the back and feeling good, I feel badly about my hesitation, no matter how brief. It was a lesson in humility.
If you think about it, say a prayer for Chris and Becky.