A while back I slept in front of the Axxa building and thought about the corporate wealth issues there. And a while back I mentioned the Salvos had a big outreach bus with computer terminals and DVD theater inside for street kids. Well guess what? They're in bed together (a pun of homelessness irony), through sponsorship, and thus the bus is known as 'the Axxa Bus'!
In the morning I was sitting back at the meeting place and a couple of teenage street kids came and sat with us. As the number of adults hanging around was dropping away Warren's authority status was rising and he saw himself as becoming a little bit more of a father/authority figure to the younger kids. He told a couple of kids to go with me to the Lazarus center for a shower and change of clothes, and when we got back he ask me to escort him there also.
Later I walked down Lt Bourke St to all the camping shops to check out the thermal clothing. There seemed two types: synthetic for about $40 a garment and wool for about $80 a garment. They both give about the same warmth but the wool lasts much longer, doesn't get as smelly and wont melt onto your skin if you're caught on fire. I wondered if it was worth trying to raise the money for the more expensive wool and just how warm was it? Could I sleep rough without a sleeping bag with thermal underwear? I also was a bit concerned with the fashion as even though it was an undergarment I would still like it to be brown to fit in with my other clothing. Perhaps being on the street I shouldn't really be thinking about these things.. I should probably use the charity clothing like everyone else although I didn't want to get some jacket that would cover over the cross on my windcheater, but I could get five or six t-shirts and wear those underneath for further warmth.
At 6pm, back on the Steps, Amy came by and gave me a Bible. It was a big NIV Study Bible, to heavy and bulky to carry around the streets, but it was all she had available and so I thanked her very much and thought it would be good to keep at a location I regularly visit and use it there. Bibles can be found at some churches around town, if you needed to check one urgently. But not all churches have Bibles available, which I find perplexing. Imagine wanting to check verse or just do a bit of quiet reading and then walking into St.Francis's or St.Pauls (and others) and not being able to find one to read, even when asking a staff member for one (as one friend was disappointed to discover). God's word not available in his church.. say what?? Well I can understand not wanting to leave lots of Bibles around to be stolen (as I had just experienced) but it would be good to have at least one available on request. Perhaps it's just not a request that comes up often enough, or there might be another issue I'm not aware of.. In any case we live in a capitalist society and so you can always head to a bookshop and buy one, or (as in my case) pick one up from the Hard Rubbish around the suburbs. I found a small green Gideon's New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs that fits nicely into my pocket. Although it is really only half a Bible it suits me for the moment as I am reading through Acts.
After Amy left I sat and waited for the guys I had invited to Alpha to rock up at 6:30pm. I had invited about six guys but would be happy if just one came along, and I hadn't done the course myself so I was interested to see what it was like. Well 6:50 passed and no one had arrived and I started feeling disappointed. Just then BJ walked by. He was with another guy who walked into the station. Excitedly I asked him if he was coming to the dinner discussion group and he said he was busy right now but he was happy to go when he got back later that night around 10pm. "But it's on right now.." my voice trailed away as he headed off into the distance. Oh well. This is a lesson I have learnt a few times since; streetys are not very good with appointments. You need to strike while the iron is hot, they are very 'now' motivated and a delay can be an opportunity for distraction and a change of focus.
I decided to head off to Alpha anyway and was glad I did. There were a few people there and we started with a dinner, which included these great big steak and potato chunky pies. I hadn't eaten for a week but had always planned to eat the dinner at the Alpha meeting as I felt it was more important to join in and share a meal with the new people gathering, so it wasn't the end of the fast but just a momentary respite. We then watched an introduction video and talked about the course outline and its scheduling. Everybody seemed happy and it seemed relaxed and accessible to anyone interested in an introduction to Christianity. At the end there was some left over food and I took two of the chunky pies back into the city with me to share with someone else.
There were not many streetys around when I got back and Wednesday is also a good night for the provision of food, and so there was no one really hungry or interested in the pies. I hung around until midnight and then I wasn't able to find anyone I knew to talk with so I decided to catch the last tram out to Clifton Hill and stay for the night in the shed there. I got on board and sat near the front, a few stops later another young guy got on and asked the tram driver if he knew of a HJs, anywhere along the route, where he could get a burger. The driver informed him there was no place open for food between the city and the of the line and the guy then came and sat on the tram steps next to my seat. I offered him one of my pies and he happily took it and started eating. He thanked me and said he hadn't eaten for a few days as he was homeless and lived in an old empty church out in the Northern suburbs. As another person walked past he said "hey this guy gave me food and he didn't even know I was homeless!" I gave him the other pie as well which he said he would have for breakfast and we talked further about homelessness and a bit about church. As I got off the tram I looked back and the homeless guy raised his arm above his head and punched his fist into the air, holding it there, as the tram pulled away into the night.