So far on this journey I have not been threatened, hurt, sick or injured. In fact it's been a long time since I felt so confident and happy. It's tough going but equally rewarding. The only discomforts I've had are: dealing with the cold, getting used to sleeping on stone and a small wound on the back of my heel (where the skin has dried out an cracked a bit) but that has easily been patched with a band aid [something you can't apply to a soul] :)
In the morning I was sitting with the crew and the Bikky Kid and his cousin came by and sat down next to me. I was more formally introduced to them and the cousin happily told how I had helped him find the bottle shop last night. Then the conversation changed and I listened as the cousin told the Bikky Kid how later on last night he had rolled a couple of dealers and got a couple hundred dollars and about ten caps (drugs). So here I was, having been wary of walking around near the drug dealers uptown, sitting with a guy who mugged drug dealers!
As we sat there a group of cops came over to check us out. One of them was a cop I'd met a couple of times before, the first of which I had explained myself as a Church outreach person who was from Christ Church Hawthorn. He took me to be a 'kind of social worker'. I was not happy that I had not fully explained who I was and so I took the opportunity to set the record straight. When he asked for my name and address I also explained how I was not connected to any specific organization but was here as a Christian to love and serve the poor, like St.Francis ect... When I finished explaining he looked at me blankly and said "I've spoken to you before, you're a kind of social worker.." I nodded and he moved on to another person (well I had tried to give a proper explanation, so my conscience was now clear).
Now I must apologize to the Salvos. Later that morning I met Dougy outside the Life Center (the Salvos drop in center) and he was pretty sober and talking with the staff and a few others. Actually the more I interact with the Salvos the more I am impressed with them. The key thing from them is what they have and give out is always top quality (a Plasma tv in the Life Center [donated of course], fresh food [not expired stuff] and even an outreach bus [with DVD lounge and 10 computer terminals for internet and networked games inside!]). What this means is that you feel like you're treated as a 'first class' citizen, a great change from how you feel treated on the street, and they also take great interest and care in you as well.
As it was Tuesday we headed off upstairs for the weekly 3 course lunch. Dougy wanted to go but he had a wine skin with him (for drinking later). He asked if he could stash it in my bucket during lunch, and I agreed (thinking better that I hold on to it and he come to lunch with everyone, than he head off on his own to drink). After soup Dougy and another bloke came over and asked for my bucket (they wanted a drink) and I told them to take it outside, and they agreed. They headed off but I soon spied them coming back with cups full of wine and wandering around happily talking with everyone. I sighed. These weren't the craftiest criminals around and I felt guilty being party to them drinking wine up in a Church hall where the AA meetings are held.. A moment later the head Salvos guy caught on to the situation and confiscated the bucket and wine. He left it by the wall where I later picked it up on my way out and (having learnt my lesson) vowed not to let that happen again (sorry Salvos). I thought about Jesus's first miracle of changing water to wine at a party where a lot of drunkenness was definitely going on. Was Jesus feeding the addictions of the alcoholics of his time? Besides the spiritual symbolism of the act of 'saving the best to last' I really wonder what he was thinking about supplying the wine in that situation, from a practical perspective..
I visited my Dad for the day and went to Small Group in the evening. And that's the end of Feb :)