Here are a few questions and responses from several of my friends who are currently or have recently been houseless.
This interview was included in our Winter ’09 paper newsletter. Please sign up for future newsletters HERE.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY….
Plague: I’d be in the mountains on a sunny day with no people and no problems. Or I’d be on a boat in the middle of the ocean.
Robyn: No police contact and good panhandling.
Crystal: Carton of cigs, 12 pack of Corona, watching Wrestle-Mania.
Mystika: Wake up in the morning – I’d be married, have kids, cook breakfast (blueberry pancakes and bacon). Pack kid’s lunches and send them to school and work. Cook treats all day. Work in my backyard garden that I designed myself. Take pictures of my kids when they come home. Have family time. Do homework together. Just a bunch of stuff a family does. Put them to sleep. Read them a book. Watch them sleep.
Nacho: Waking up, going to work, having cigs, and having no debt. Relaxing at the end of the evening and then going to bed.
Keri: Spending time with kids; paradise; no war; no poverty; no starvation; no death.
Richie: Waking up next to a beautiful woman. Being at the right place at the right time. Working and then enjoying an evening after work with friends and family.
Roberta: Getting up, making breakfast for the kids, sending them to school, going to work, coming home, cooking dinner, family time, putting kids to bed.
DESCRIBE WINTER ON THE STREETS IN A COUPLE OF WORDS…
Plague: Not copasetic.
Robyn: Loneliness, harsh, unforgiving.
Zillionaire: Drink as much water as you can to stay alive, wear as many layers as you have or else you’ll freeze, and they get dirty.
Tino: Cold and uncaring.
Crystal: Very, very cold and no sleep – hard to sleep when you are that cold.
Nacho: Long, cold, lonely.
Keri: Hell, straight up hell. Cold, lonely, harassed, “Move you’re a**!”, “Get away from that heater!”
Mystika: Freezing, scared, shelterless, always on the move, cuddle with people to keep warm.
Richie: Cold, insecure, doubtful, suicidal, alone, wishful, ambivalent, unaccepted.
Roberta: I don’t remember anymore. Ha – I must have been crazy!
WHERE’S THE MOST INTERESTING PLACE YOU’VE EVER SLEPT?
Roberta: In the basement of the old abandoned Silos. Me and John drug a couch down there. Urban Peak heard that we were down there and came to check on us.
LaDawn: (laughs) Outside.
Keri: On the heater grates on Stout Street by the Convention Center.
DO YOU SEE OR EXPERIENCE GOD ON THE STREETS?
Plague: Yeah, everyday
Robyn: All the feedings and help for the homeless is sponsored by churches/people who help. I’m not as violent as I use to be since I’ve become a Christian.
Tino: A smile and an encouraging word.
Crystal: The other night when I got stranded, friends helped me out and I got to stay at a church.
Nacho: Every day, whenever I see people getting along. I experience God whenever I go somewhere and I get this feeling that I shouldn’t go and then I find out something bad happened where I almost went. I experience God when I see people getting along.
Keri: I asked God, “Where are you?” and He was there for me. He directed me where to go. He sent me to the police department.
Mystika: I’ve noticed that in my bad times, I have more strength than before I knew God. When I’m down I ask His guidance, and I feel myself getting stronger, and I feel warmth within my body.
Richie: I think that God is looking after me because after everything I’ve been through, He hasn’t necessarily provided me with a security blanket, but he’s provided me with the resources I need to survive.
Roberta: I met this guy downtown once. When he found out we were sleeping in the Silos, he took us to Biggs and bought us sleeping bags, lights, food, and warm cloths. He even gave me a job. I worked for him for months.
LaDawn: When I attempted suicide, He brought me out, and now I appreciate life more. I was 17.
WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES YOU OPEN TO TALK ABOUT GOD TO SOME PEOPLE, BUT NOT OTHERS?
Robyn: It takes a personal relationship.
Zillionaire: Anyone that’s intelligent and not condemning.
Tino: Dry Bones or Scum of the Earth Church because they have taken the time, energy, and effort to build a relationship with me and not just condemn, criticize, and judge me.
Crystal: If it’s a conversation where I don’t feel targeted.
Nacho: People who actually want to talk about God and don’t want just to argue their point. Someone who’s open to God, not just their concept of God. I don’t want to argue about your concept of God! I want to talk about how God loves us.
Keri: Body language. I won’t talk to people who resent us the whole time they are trying to help us.
Mystika: The approach that they take, like with Dry Bones, they let you know God in your own way, at your own pace. You give us time to find God. Other people just throw Him at you. You are always there to answer questions and help us to know more about God.
Richie: I’m open to talk about God with people, but I have a problem with people who try to argue a point of view and are ignorant and aren’t open-minded.
WHAT DOES THE WORD “CHRISTIAN” MEAN TO YOU?
Roberta: I don’t know exactly. The word “Christian” used to scare me. You guys really opened my eyes to a new way of looking at Christians. Now it’s what I strive to be.
Keri: Christ-like; a loving lifestyle.
THIS IS GOING OUT TO PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT DRY BONES AND WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT GOES ON HERE IN DENVER. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY TO THE PEOPLE READING THIS INTERVIEW?
Robyn: The immenseness of their love is amazing. Keep up the good work.
Plague: Thanks for all your help!
Tino: Thank you so much for supporting an amazing ministry.
Crystal: This is a great place to hang out and if you ever need help, you guys are the ones to go to.
Nacho: Dry Bones does a lot of good for a lot of people. Dry Bones is a good place to start to get help. People shouldn’t take advantage of these guys.
Keri: Thank you! You are REAL Christians. You are not Rice-Christians. You guys really care about us. You are like family to us! [Rice-Christians, according to Keri, are, “…those who just serve you a bowl rice and say, ‘God bless.’ They aren’t willing to be your friend on a deeper level.”]
Mystika: In the beginning, when I first came to Dry Bones, I was a wreck. I was depressed, alone, angry, enraged, withdrawn, and addicted. After coming around the people of Dry Bones, I started little by little to love myself. By loving myself, I was able to open myself up to trust people and let myself be helped. I was able to come back to God after I had doubted Him for so long. Without you guys, I wouldn’t have made it this far…I really mean that.”
You guys are loving and caring. You are God’s angels to bring His lost ones home.