Day 12 & 13: “Cough & Rent”:

These next few days were typical nights of my journey. I was still getting used to the sounds (like constant coughing) from those living in the shelter. I vividly remember the senses and the feeling I had during those long nights. It was not easy and those memories remind me about the holistic needs of those living on the streets. Medical care and rental assistance programs help keep people healthy and off the streets so they can make positive decisions to move forward at a fairer advantage. Those memories also remind me of the good work of so many agencies in San Antonio.

I am grateful for groups like Yanawana Herbolarios, Corazon Clinic, and the SA Street Medicine Team who provide medical care for clients all over San Antonio and downtown. Free Medical care helps prevent many common illnesses and diseases in the unhoused community and helps treats common ailments with wound care, derm care, mental health care, pharmaceutical care, and holistic care. All forms are needed and work together to offer healing on the streets!

I am grateful for places like Christian Assistance Ministries, SA Hope Center, SAMM, SARAH and others who help people find homes or rental assistance. Without them people such as Derek would have a harder time getting back on their feet as they start a new job.

Below are my reflections from Day 12 & 13 in 2012:

Cough: March 5, 2012

The first night I mentioned the noises you hear when you sleep outside in the city.  The trains, sirens, traffic, talking, laughing, screaming, fighting…etc.  However, there is one more sound that has made the top of the list…

The Cough.
Like in cough, cough…I have a cold.

Coughing due to sickness, the weather, and/or the cigarette smoke.  It’s all around.  And very concerning….morning, day and night.

In the outdoor shelter there are hundreds of homeless citizens living within the gates.  People of all different ages, races, and gender.  They get sick just like the rest of us.  But many of the homeless don’t have the common medical resources many of us receive at home or our doctor’s office.   Now, there are medical clinics that reach out to the homeless but I don’t know all the regulations or if these clinics are fully utilized by all the people….I guess I need to find out.

It is fair to say that at any given moment someone is always coughing…it’s a constant sound.  Some of the coughs seem really bad, long, and chronic.  It makes me cringe every time I hear the sound.

I know this is a strange topic to be blogging about but I feel I need to be writing about all angles of my experience and the topic has been on my mind lately because just 2 days ago…I started to cough.  And it’s not a good feeling at all.   Even though I now feel a small connection to the other people who are suffering with a cough.

I am not looking for pity…I knew it was part of the deal when I signed up for this kind of experience.  (And I have friends looking out for me!) However, it has made me realize how many people on the streets are really sick and need major medical help.

In the end, I know that I will be okay…because I have health insurance from my work.  If something bad happens here…I am covered.  This is only a Lenten journey and simulation.  I have a fall back.

It just bothers me that in 34 days my cough will be gone but the coughing will still continue for many all around the city streets after Easter morning.

Rent: March 6, 2012

There is one man I sleep near during the night named Derek.  He is in his early 20’s and seems like a moral and upright man.  He’s been there every night since I began sleeping there regularly. After he charges his go-phone at one of the few electrical outlets he then lays out his mat near our section at 9:30pm on the dot.

Derek works at a coffee shop in Northwest San Antonio and goes to work everyday before I even wake up at 6am.  Why is Derek living here at the outdoor shelter?

Was it drugs?
Was it alcohol?
Was it medical?
Was it bad investments?
I don’t want to believe it was any of these…but I am not sure yet.

Why is this guy homeless?

Derek is a very quiet man.  Always listening to music and never really bothering anyone around him. Georgia and I like to sleep near him because he is quiet and respectful.  He’s a good “roommate” in the outdoor shelter.

It took me a while to get to know Derek but he has started to open up to the new guy in town.  Come to find out he is new to the area himself.  Derek has been living in the outdoor shelter for just a few weeks, not much longer than I have. He was evicted from his apartment because he had trouble paying rent on a regular basis.  He began to stay here because he needs to save enough money to pay more than just 1 month…he wants to save enough so he never has to come back to this place again.  He’s saving all the money he can.  The outdoor shelter is a good place to start.   

Where was his family?
Where were his friends?
Where was his church, temple, or community center?
Where was the love?

“I only will be here for 1 month or so…then I will get my own place” he said.  That’s all I really know about his future plans.  (Many people living here don’t open up all at once…its a work in progress when it comes to learning someone’s story.)   (See my rules for how I reveal info…)

I really hope to make it up to his coffee shop and drink a warm cup of joe sometime soon.  Then hopefully after Easter I can visit his new apartment…it would be good to see him back indoors.

Psalm 27

From The Message:
Light, space, zest— that’s God!
So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing.

When vandal hordes ride down ready to eat me alive,
Those bullies and toughs fall flat on their faces.

When besieged, I’m calm as a baby.
When all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool.

I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing:
To live with him in his house my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.

That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic.

God holds me head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down.
I’m headed for his place to offer anthems that will raise the roof!
Already I’m singing God-songs; I’m making music to God.

Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs: “Be good to me! Answer me!”
When my heart whispered, “Seek God,” my whole being replied,
“I’m seeking him!” Don’t hide from me now!

You’ve always been right there for me; don’t turn your back on me now.
Don’t throw me out, don’t abandon me; you’ve always kept the door open.
My father and mother walked out and left me, but God took me in.

Point me down your highway, God; direct me along a well-lighted street;
show my enemies whose side you’re on.
Don’t throw me to the dogs, those liars who are out to get me,
filling the air with their threats.

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
Stay with God.

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