A few people have expressed a concern about the use of real names on this blog. So I have gone back and changed all names to pseudo-names. I will operate on the default of pseudo-names unless you tell me it is ok to use your real name, rather than the other way round.
The interaction of interest of the day was first thing in the morning. I sat on one of the benches outside SPC opposite McDonalds, letting the cool air wake me up. Along came a young teenage street girl, about 14, who asked me to move to one of the other two 'empty' benches, so she could sleep on the one I was sitting on. I agreed and she lay down. Then over came two of her friends, another young girl and an even younger young boy. I noticed they had been hanging out at the other benches nearby, where there were some rough street men all sitting and drinking beers loudly. I realized they were socially connected to that group, and wondered about what kind of future they had?
They introduced themselves and asked a question or two, like what was I planning to do today? I just shrugged my shoulders. They started talking among themselves. They didn't care that I was there listening. The kid asked one of the girls what she had done with the tape they had made of him having sex with another of the girls, she couldn't remember. Then he said to me, "Beer and girls, there is nothing better in life, is there?" I said back, "Actually God is better." A little more chat and they went back to the other group and let Kelly go back to sleep (they had been out all night). I had actually seen them around FSS before talking to a couple of 'regular/normal' looking girls. I visualized a connecting flowchart from regular kids to street kids to 'no hope' boozing street adults, and the connections were not flowing in a good direction. Sitting there a while longer, thinking about how you could possibly go about helping the kids in this situation, Kelly woke up and asked, "What are you still doing here!?" I said, "Just thinking," but then got up and walked away, across the road.
Again it was Friday night and I went out to Shawn's place for some tv and catch up with my friends. This time it didn't feel like the end of a camp, more just a visiting stop on the journey, but a welcome distraction. Also some welcomed cheezy pizza, before heading back to JJ's, where I was welcomed again to sleep on their couch for the night. zzzzzz.
Both my sandles had broken again and so JJ gave me a lift to Clifton Hill where I got out the gaffer tape and rebound them back into service. I then walked to FSS where I sat down and read my Bible for the afternoon, and later a walk along the Yarra.
In the evening I went to the Sat night dinner at CoH. After dinner I noticed some spilt cordial on the floor and went and asked if there was a mop I could use. David said if I had the time it would be really helpful if I could mop the whole floor. I could see it hadn't been done for a long time, so I said "Sure" and went to work. After an hour I felt really good working away. I also cleaned the tables for the coming Christmas lunch, surprised that there was no regular person/duty to clean up after the meals, and everything was just left as it was used. I guess I was used to too many school and church camps where the eaters are always tasked to cleanup. This church running on the bare minimum of volunteer assistance had no such system in place. I was happy to help; another way to serve God and others.
Back at FSS and Tom was setting up his microphone for the evening carols and outreach. As he had his back turned (adjusting the amp) two girls and a guy went over and moved around a bit while the guy picked up one of Tom's bags from behind his back, and then they all rushed off into the station. I said to Tom, "Those guys just took the bag from behind you, I'll go after them" but as I went around the station I was unable to find them. I went back and Tom told me the bag had contained lots of little wrapped toys that were going to be handed out to children passing by... People stealing Christmas toys from children, it makes you angry! An hour later, wandering around the station I found the bag in a bin and the empty wrapping paper, but no gifts. We still had a good night singing carols on the steps, with about 10 others, and some street people joined in as well. We also handed out some booklets about the 'real' meaning of Christmas to passersby, and Madison, from my home Church, came over to say hi as she was passing by. It was a joyful evening and we finished up at midnight, then I sat on the steps for another hour.
I met Cathy, as she was waiting for the last train. She was a middle aged homeless woman who had been on the streets for about 3 years. She was very surprised I was sleeping rough in the city, as she was very scared of staying in the CBD at night. She said she had been raped and beaten by another street person (who I have met) and it took 3 months for her ribs to heal. I asked if she had gone to the police, but she said there was not enough evidence to take her seriously. She said everyone lies. There is no-one she has met that is trustworthy. She was unable to find accommodation and so trained out of the city each night to a safer area. Again she asked me wasn't I scared? I said I hadn't personally had any bad experiences yet, so I felt ok about being here, and perhaps that I was a man probably helped. Then she left to catch the last train out, and I headed back into the city to sleep.