The other week there was a new night guard at St. Pauls. He was a lot friendlier and didn't mind me sitting and walking around the front area. In fact after I pointed out that one of the garden hoses was leaking and a lot of water was flowing down the street, we worked together to repair the leak by bending the hose backwards and tying it off with some string. The next afternoon I fell asleep on a pew inside the Cathedral and was woken up by the caretaker as it closed at 5:30pm. As I got up he said, "You're welcome back anytime.". Wow, that's some good improvement in the welcoming attitude at the SPC. It makes me feel good about the place again.
I had just visited some friends, had a pray, and was deciding whether to go to sleep or head back into the city. I decided to head back in, mainly because I like the Sat night activities on the steps from 10 to 12, and if I headed back in I might catch the last half hour.
As I crossed the street to the Steps, Dougy was standing out in front of the choir, saw me approaching and called out to me to come over, and shook my hand. We had a chat about how he had got sunburnt again. Then I saw a good friend standing on the Steps, whom I had not seen since I started the FW. Before I could go and say hello, the evangelist from Frankston (Darren), who had suggested I carry a Bible, from a few weeks ago, came up to say hello. He enthusiastically asked me if I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, and I asked him to qualify how he would define that. Whoops; then came a ten minute talk and reading from the Bible as to what it was all about. While I didn't have a specific moment of spiritual Baptism to recount, he agreed I had been Baptized as I said I had experienced speaking in tongues.
We, the choir and some others, all gathered around in a huddle and said a few prayers, then everyone headed off home. I went to talk to my friend Scott and learned he had decided to come in with the hope to find me, so I was really glad I also made the decision to come back in tonight. This seems to be happening a lot, meetings with people looking to find me, or meetings with new people that have an interesting connection or interest in the area I am dealing/living in. We walked around a bit and had a good catch up over a couple of hours. He said after this experience, I would never be the same again. I wonder just how much as a person I have or will change? As we went back to his car and said goodbye, I mentioned that I thought I would now head off and get some sleep myself...
Walking back past HJs I bumped into Cathy, and started talking. This time she told me reason of why she was living on the streets, and it was due to a Pokie Machine addiction. Although she was a little smarter about it than others, as after she got her pension, she paid any bills she had, bought any food or items she would need for the week, and then spent the rest down at the casino. I asked her how often she won money on the pokies and she said not very often, less than once a month, and agreeing that the odds were so very low she said she might try blackjack instead next time...
I had just seen some youths try to wind up Dougy by saying a guy in McDonalds had been badmouthing him. Dougy went inside. I stood directly opposite outside, leaning with my back to a tree, watching, ready to go in and talk to Dougy in case he took the lie seriously. The youths, also watching, noticed me and one came over and started hassling me for being a Christian, and was waving his hands in front of my face in a teasing manner. This was about the most hastled I had been but I just stood there and smiled. Then he stopped and shook my hand saying he really respected me for being a Christian and wearing a cross around the city! Dougy was fine, as he was too drunk to remember what the youths had said 30 seconds after he had walked in, and I had never seen him act in a violent manner, although I did hear Goaty say he had been kicked in the head by Dougy once.
As I was leaning against the tree a guy came out of McDonalds and said hello, and asked about my cross. I chatted with him and he was really interested and then told me how God had called him to study to be a youth pastor this year at the Harvest Bible College in Dandenong. Nathan then told me his sister went to a Planet Shakers Church in Victoria St, which was ironic as I had arranged to meet a friend at the service there that afternoon. Then his friends came over and they headed off to catch the Night Rider Bus service home, which is free, by the way, for all of January, if you're out late in the city this month.
I sat with Dougy in front of the Commonwealth ATMs. It was a busy night on Swanston St. I was told things were back to normal after a quiet post Christmas / New Year period, and the cops didn't seem to be around much, but Dougy always spotted them before I could, accompanied with a sour remark. Some guys came up to Dougy and had a good go at him about being an alcoholic. He responded in a friendly manner about how he couldn't help it, it's just the way he was, and I was glad to see he was approachable on the subject without getting upset, a fact I would keep in mind for a later time.
As we sat there along came a tall thin youth with his head constantly crooked at an angle, and he stopped to talk to Dougy. He said how he had taken 16 bickys (estacy tablets), ice, and some crack. I said I was surprised he had taken so many, thinking you would normally take only one or two, but he said he had taken 64 bickys once. As we talked he noticed an older guy just down the street talking to a young girl. He got up and went over to confront the guy about leaving the girl alone. Although the guy said they were friends the 'bicky kid' tried to pick a fight with the guy (to protect the girl, whom he didn't know), but the other fellow didn't want one and defended himself verbally for a couple of minutes before walking away. Then the drugged up guy kept strolling around yelling at people looking for a fight, but no one took him on. It was interesting as although he was completely drugged up and acting violent, he still needed justification in his mind, for a fight. So while he was completely high, there still seemed to be some level of reasoning going on with his thinking. Then he came over and started talking threateningly to me about not messing with his friends, and so I decided it was time to leave.
I went to sleep.
I got up to go to the morning service at my home Church, but was too tired and went back to sleep.
I went to the Dallas Brooks Hall for the Planet Shakers Church service. I though there may be a couple of hundred people attending, but there was thousands. I stood in the entrance hoping to meet my friend Antony, from World Vision, but I was unable to see him. As I was standing there another man, Rex, came over to say hello. He had reserved some seats and asked me to join him and his friends. I still couldn't see Anthony and the music had started, so I agreed and went in.
After some more bouncy bouncy, and a good talk about handing over your 'stuff' to Jesus, the service ended and I got to chat further with Rex. Now this was interesting (remember these 'chance' meetings), Rex had a nephew that had lived on the streets and been involved in drugs and with a lot of support he had just helped his nephew get out of his situation and back on the road to recovery, just a week ago. It was good to hear a success story from the issues of despair I had seen about the streets. Rex was also interested in getting the support of the church and some financial backing to help other kids the way he had been able to help his nephew. But he didn't have much knowledge of the streets and so asked if I might be able to help, once he got things up and running. I said I had only been here a month but if I came by for another service at some point I would see how we were both progressing. Only a moment after we finished talking and he left, Anthony saw me and came up to talk.
I caught up with some friends who were gathering for the soon arrival of the food van. A 10 year old kid came up and said 'Weren't you just at the Planet Shakers thing?'. 'I was' I replied and he said 'Cool!' just as his dad came and pulled him away. As I was talking on the Steps to Goaty, we were approached by two guys who introduced themselves as the original leaders of the KK Gang. I had heard of this gang from a few other street kids talking. There was a few suggestions as to the meaning of the 'KK' but these guys said it meant 'Kambo Klowns'. They were very friendly and were asking me to take good care of the street people that live around the steps. They asked if they gave me a backpack would I fill it with food from the van and then distribute it later to people on the Steps, as there were some that didn't like going to the van and still needed food. I said I wouldn't use a backpack but would do my best to look after the people, as that was a part of why I was already there. They were happy and said if I ever needed anything then let them know and they would hook me up with any drug I wanted. They even said they were willing to spend the time to teach me how to take the drugs properly, no one else would do that, but if I took care of their friends, then they would take care of me. I let them know I don't take drugs but would still look out for the people around the area. They said that was cool and then they headed of to catch a train.
After the food van (where I got to chat with someone new) I sat and chatted further with Goaty. He was a bit repetitive and so I wanted to head off elsewhere, but it conflicted with the feeling that listening as a friend, even if it was repetitive, was a part of why I was there. So I kept thinking it was a good exercise in patience. Later we went for a walk, and I stopped to make a call on a public phone to a cousin on her birthday. There was no answer which Goaty said was good and told me to hurry along down the street. As we moved away from the area he told me just next to the phone was a well known gang of youths a few meters away, who hate Christians. He said if we had been there any longer then they would have attacked me because of the cross on my top, and beat me unconscious. He said he would have been attacked for just being with me, and as there were too many he would not have been able to do anything about it. He said not to go back near there for the rest of the night. Shortly later we found a six pack of VB stubbies broken on the ground, but two were still intact, so Goaty saw it as good Karma and picked them up and then looked for a spot to drink. I said it was time for me to head off, and separated and I re-assured him I was not heading back to the bad area.
I was walking east, up Little Flinders St, when I walked past a shop entrance area, and saw two people having sex, right there, in a very publicly visible place, only half a metre to my right. That was a surprise, I hadn't seen that sort of 'activity' on the street before. The guy looked at me as I passed. It was the 'bicky kid'.