Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stories from the Mission... bit 31

   The past two days have been a riot!I was requested this time by Mr. Fuller to help out in the mail room to help out with the flyers. Down there with me was an interesting group of guys. Yasseen that is a fun guy that can come off a hard guy at times, he is a graduate, Josh, who I used to bunk over but never got to know, and Robert, also known as mighty mouse, or as I call him, the Tasmanian angel. Josh is extremely knowledgeable about the Bible and many of the churches denominations and always sounds like he knows what he is talking about. He acts a bit like a Tony Soprano is that he is always having to get his stories straight with the guys on his crew or having shady conversations with the guys he hangs out with. he also loves to talk food. His stories about working in the prison kitchen are interesting, wheeling and dealing for things and selling squares. Robert would throw out a verse and Josh could quote it and be Biblically sound. Robert is cool, always has a great smile going, full of energy, sings with his whole body, arms bent and tucked into the body at the elbows and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible. All of this, plus his New Orleans accent, though he is not from there, makes him perfect for Office B, the new man intake, his eyes always squinty from the full of spirit smile. Since I have been at the mission I have been staying away from caffeine, but with this group, and because it was free down there, I was hitting it hard to try to keep up. The theological discussions where very educational to me, the jokes and banter almost constant between us, you really had to stay on your feet! At times it sounded like the food channel, Josh would steer it that way, being a self described fat boy. We would talk about restaurants around the city or what our moms used to make us. Discussions on slang or old TV shows (Yasseem actually liked "Mamas family", yech!). This went on for hours. At times it would fall off a bit, then someone would think of fresh meat to toss at a guy to see his reaction and we'd all have a chew on the subject. It was interesting to see the facets of thought, like a mental poker game between the four guys.
   The bunks here in the dorms have been used by many men for a long time, so the pads are pretty well worn out in the middle. I've been fixing mine up by pulling the pad off, laying a blanket down on the springs so the next layer, cardboard, wouldn't squeak after a week. By centering smallish pieces in the middle, you can counteract the general sag of the weak springs. Next came several layers of folded over blankets to add softness, and then the original pad.It's hard enough trying to sleep in that place without having old wires sticking into your hips. I never got it perfect, but if I laid just right through the valley, I got enough winks in. On occasion. If I was really wiped out.
   We got news of some new rules changes today that I like a lot. It used to be that you had to wait 6 months before you could use the computers, but Pastor Bower talked some sense into them and now it has been reduced to just 60 days!
   Things I miss from my old life: Big trees, stars, driving a car, honey naked ham, pretty women, music, pop corn, car magazines, fresh air, two days in a row off, one day with no schedule, walking barefoot, sitting by a lake, double stuffed Oreos, listening to talk radio, doing my art, being with family, carpets, color, the History channel, choosing what to eat, pistachios, steak, Italian sausage, swimming, not having to wear a tie, not having any constraints on how long I am reading, ice cream, buying new clothes (and I never thought I would ever say that) and petting pets. ~Love~
   Last nights stage was so cool! We had a guy come in and play the guitar for the hymns, his name is Ernie Hiens and he plays a bluesy kind of gospel. He did some free form solo stuff to warm up and I was in heaven.
   I get to do my testimony tonight at P and T, I've written a few things down but none of them seem right, so I might just bring a card with basic bullet points and wing it from there.
   We finally got two new guys on our work crew, so I have moved up enough to not have to clean toilets anymore. It's a tradition, new guys get the worst jobs and being I came in during the summer when the Program has the least guys, I was stuck for a while. So, basically, YAHOO! Mike is an 52 year old Italian/Irish guy without any even implied temper and Jeff, a 19 year old Black kid that is a lot more mature than Kurtis. I hope they hang in as they seem to be here for the right reasons, Jeff the more so. Don, our foreman, is really level headed, but seems like he wants to be too much of an inside man. It will be nice when he becomes the I.C. and takes over for 'Gadzookie', LOL.
   I weighed myself and I am down to 216 pounds, which is less than back when I hadn't eaten in 5 days. I was so weak back then, and now the Lord is slowly rebuilding me.
   So, last night I did my testimony on the main stage, lets see if I can remember it right. My name is Zac Lowing and I am from Englewood! Most of the audience that has been at the mission knows the traditions, and once they hear where you are from, they yell out what side of town it is, so they all shout, "SOUUUTH SIDE". I wait a few seconds, seeing guys looking at eachother that knew me in supprise, and then I go on saying "No, no no, I'm really from the suburb of Elk Grove Village, ya know, west side!", to which all the guys started laughing and hitting each-others shoulders in a knowing way. I went on, "We had a nice house, a good family and a tree house in the back yard, but I screwed up, drinking and doing drugs. In the last few years I had a good job, a condo and stuff and I got saved about 20 years ago, or so I thought, as the fruits of my life didn't show it. I was still living with a girl, I was still smoking, I was still doing drugs and I was still getting drunk. Now, I've been a mechanic all my life and I can fix all kinds of things, but I can't fix me. You know why? TOO MANY 'I's! God has to fix me! God is the ultimate artist, you can see it in his sun rises and his sun sets, but his best work I can see is right here in the mission, in the growth I see in the guys here, (pointing to the women now) in the smiles on your faces! by all rights, according to the rest of the world, we shouldn't be happy, but we are! This is an amazing place! I've been to the Art institute, and they have NOTHING on this place! (I could see all kinds of peoples cheering me on now). "Ya know, I grew up with three sisters, but now I have 80 brothers! (everybody is clapping). "Oh, by the way... I need your prayers that I don't catch pneumonia, Pastor Bower is going to baptize me in lake Michigan soon, and it is really cold!" lol. ~ I'm sure I missed a few things in retelling it now, it's all kind of a blur... I remember waving my arms around, gesturing at things and the audience yelling and cheering.
Thank you Lord!

1 comment: