Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Stories from the Mission... bit 13

For the most part, the guys in the Bible program have next to nothing, yet they can be some of the most giving people I have ever encountered. Conrad, who works down in Unshackled, had walked up to a drinking fountain on the third floor at the same time as me. I told him go ahead, I'm going to drink a lot, I need to fill up like a camel. Upon his quizzical look, I explained that I didn't have a cup yet. Sticking a finger in the air, he said wait a minute, disappeared into his dorm  and brought back a stainless steel travel mug for me! To a person with less than $50 to his name, that was huge. He gave it then was gone. Dave Ebbins is a goofy and affable guy that is on the bunk down and across from me. I mentioned how the pillow I had was hurting my neck, and he gave me his big one! He still has 5 other ones, but still, that was cool. Dave has epilepsy, so he needs the pillows to cushion himself. Amazing guy Dave, he has two kids and a wife that he misses terribly, but the disease drove him to the brink, so, somewhat like me, he ended up here. Above Dave's bunk is is Scott's place. Scott sleeps sitting up... Easter island comes to mind. He is a good guy that has a real problem with alcohol, it haunts him and changes him. It's a shame how good people can be derailed so much. I pray for them.
   One thing I really like here and have a feeling I won't find anywhere else is the singing. The first thing we do before both classes each day is sing from the hymnal. To hear 30 men in a cement walled room singing it out is cool, but it's all the flourishes not written down in the book that get me. These are added parts handed down over the Missions 133 years and came in from small Baptist churches all over the city. One of the songs is 'Leaning on Jesus' and when the main choirs comes up, 6 or 7 of the guys will belt out 'WE ARE' and the rest of the guys will sing whats in the book, 'Leaning, leaning'. It seems each song has bits like that, claps or added lyrics, beautiful and passed on down like the legends of old.
  Well, I just got back from what they call 'stage' and it was good. Stage happens 3 times a day, in the main auditorium and in the day room. It's where all the overnight guests gather to hear some songs and a sermon before breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guys from each crew, 4 to 8 total at times, join the pastor on stage to run the testimonies and lead the singing. I am not a good singer, but maybe over the next year I will get better. I recall fondly hearing my Dad sing at church when I was a kid. He wasn't a great singer, but it felt good to hear him. Tim, a rather large, ~400 pound guy, sang a hymn in his own way that was very relaxing and cool. I could picture him doing the Blues, his head cocked to one side, leaning forward, eyes closed in a soft voice. Pastor Ken Hall gave a rousing talk, and I have to admit, being behind this bombastic bulldog of a man, it was nice not being in the line of fire for a change, lol. He is a great preacher, his arms and shoulders always slightly raised or better, pushing his face upwards, at all times, jumping and pumping, moving all over the place, hardly ever looking at his notes. Wow! The man is on fire for the Lord, and he will tell you that. Heck, he will tell you all kinds of interesting street slangs and colloquialisms, he'll then bring them around to you, often ending up staring at a guy nearest to him to make sure it sank in.
   Ask anyone in prison, they will tell you they are innocent. Ask anyone in the Bible program, and they will tell you they are guilty.
   Today is a Thursday, my Saturday, my one day off from work a week. They still give you a structure in that I still have classes to attend, stage, devotion and most likely search. It's ok, sleeping in till noon is over rated and is more of a thing you need in the old life of drinking and drugs. I get by on a lot less sleep these days as my body is not trying to recover from all the damage from booze and smoke. Wow... saving money. I sat and figured it out that I used to spend around $12,000 a year between beer, booze, cigarettes and drugs. Giving up that junk save me money, helps me be more healthy and I'm better able to see myself for growth. I still make a lot of mistakes, but now I'm able to remember them the next day and try to not repeat them. Try is a big word to me.

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