Friday, June 29, 2007

Winter Weather

Yep, it's cold.

Winter, my one biggest fear when I started out in the summer, and now it is here. To me it is 'the eye of the needle', expectantly the most difficult part of the year to get through on the street, and yet I am... ok! How have I coped?

First a few months ago my mum gave me a woolen beanie, on her birthday. That night I was talking to Goaty and he suddenly said "I like that beanie, I'll swap you for my cap" and reached out his hand. I straight away traded our hats and noticed how dirty, and slightly bloodied, his cap was and lightly put it on my head (but didn't pull it down tight because it was so yucky). Later that night I felt bad that mum had given me a special gift and only hours later I had given it away, but also conflicted as I felt giving a homeless person something I had to help them keep warm was also the right thing to do.. I went back to Goaty and explained to him the beanie had been a gift from my mum and could I have it back? He was very good and said he understood how special it was and thanked me for letting him wear it for the last couple of hours. Over the course of the next two weeks the issue played on my mind and in the end I went back to Goaty and explained again how special the beanie was and gave it to him as a gift. He said he appreciated it, although I doubted it as he has short term memory problems and often completely changes his clothes from week to week. In the meantime a friend gave me a different beanie which I have been using and I explained to mum what happened and she was understanding about it. A few weeks ago I had a hair cut (No.3 all over) and boy did I notice the cold then! but with the beanie on and hood up it has kept my head warmth trapped. Also a friend said the beanie and hoodie combo was true streetie fashion! Last week I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Goaty in different clothes but still with my mums beanie on :)

The thermal underwear I got at the start of march worked well over Autumn but failed when the real cold hit and the wind was cutting through. Thankfully I was given another tshirt, woolen vest, a second set of thermal underwear and a new pair of pants. The old pair wore out and tore open all around my thighs and bum area but I was so busy it took two weeks before I found the time to go to the shops and buy a new pair with a generous financial donation from a friend. For a wile I wanted to get another pair of brown pants, to keep my appearance consistent, but unable to find any I went and got some cargo pants, which I thought looked brown in the shop but turned out to be green when I was outside. But I have been really happy with them as the extra pockets around the knees have been really helpful, especially now that I carry a notebook, pen and was given a small complete Bible, which keeping in my pocket as I walk acts as my Christian tefillin (the Jewish act of keeping your scriptural beliefs strapped to your body).

So I am wearing 6 tops and 3 pants! The cold has been blocked out. I wanted to be hard core authentic and keep wearing the sandals, and for a while my feet seemed to cope. But when the temp started dropping below 10 degrees I added socks and finally I caved and switched to an old pair of brown runners, which have been a wonderful treat, and at first I felt a bit guilty about not being challenged enough by the cold, but after one night where I lost all feeling in my hands from numbness, I bought some fingerless gloves ($2) for the day, and was donated some full gloves for the night. Winter gear complete, I can now walk around the city without being bothered by the cold anymore. While other street people have also geared up for Winter I am surprised by the number of people who stand around in light open clothing and tell me that the cold just doesn't bother them.

What about sleeping?? Well the shed is just as cold inside as it is outside. I don't do any sitting around when I get there but go straight to sleep. So I quickly get into the sleeping bag with my thermals on and it is good enough to keep me warm all night.

There was a period of adjustment over the first few weeks of July where I was really struggling with the cold, and I also wanted to take some time out from my normal routine to do some Bible study and meditation. I thought of staying at the Mother Theresa's men's refuge for a couple of weeks but they have a night curfew that conflicted with some commitments that I still wanted to be available for. I prayed hard about it and God answered by providing me with a Hotel room for two weeks! A street friend who lives with his dad has a gambling addiction which he spends all his disability pension on. For extra money he begs in the street with a sleeping bag by his side (as a prop). One night someone came by and offered to put him up in a hotel room for two weeks. My friend took up the offer but when he saw it was just a simple budget room he preferred his own bedroom. He tried to refund the booking to get the money to use for his gambling habit, but there were no refunds allowed. So he was about to tear up the voucher and throw away the room key when I sat down and he offered it to me. It was a real blessing, being in the CBD being able to rest and come and go as easily as I pleased. It was also funny as people were asking me how I was coping in the cold and I would say 'Oh, I'm in a hotel..' Actually the best thing about the room was not the warmth.. it was the light. Being able to lie there at night and read my Bible for hours before going to sleep was fantastic. I worked through Romans and both Corinthians books, and even had some good talks in the TV room with a girl who was into Scientology (you know.. the Tom Cruise Religion).

Funnily enough when I got back to using the shed this week I found it very homely and restful. I have located a candle, I got from a friends wedding a month ago, and was able to start reading Galatians ch2, in which Paul meets most of the Apostles for the first time in 14 years. The only advice they gave him in his ministry was: to remember the poor, the very thing he was eager to do.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Well things have finally slowed down a bit and it is time to return to this blog. I apologize for being away so long, but two things happened..

First, I felt God saying to me in Mid February that the daily diary nature of the blog should not continue past the first three months. the blog started out as a personal record of what would happen if you did the 'Rich man' challenge and do a Faith Walk, trusting in God's providence for everything materially and spiritually. It was also a communication tool to keep my family and close friends advised as to where I was and what I was doing. As I went along people found the blog interesting enough that they passed it on to others, and soon the readership grew beyond what I expected and felt comfortable with. I was uncomfortable that I might be discussing peoples personal stories in too public a forum (despite using pseudonyms) and it might cause people on the street concern if they found out. Perhaps it could even cause a backlash that would not make it possible to continue. A number of people who work in the 'streets' area told me they had read this blog, and so the chance of this happening was quite real. From a positive angle, I was also pleased to discover there were cultural connections with those I thought had no interest and relationship with the homeless. After praying about how to handle the situation I felt God saying to limit the daily story to the first 3 months but I intend to continue on beyond that with personal reflection and general updates.

The second thing that happened was that my routine changed and God kept me so busy that I didn''t even have the time to finish the last entry of the first three months (until yesterday), and while yes I was that busy, and yes I could have sacrificed some sleep to do an update if I really wanted to, I had a negative gut reaction to it until now.

So I am happy to let you know I am still going strong, happy and learning as much as ever; still out here and I will have an update as to what I did over Autumn very soon.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Thurs/Fri/Sat 8-10th March 07

Three months of Faith Walking were coming to a close. It had been an amazing experience of learning and growing in my relationships with God and others. This would have been the perfect time to bring it to an end and return to regular work and life, but I first had to check what God wanted..

I slept most of Thursday. When I got up I went and sat on the couch, in the back yard, and thought about the frustration of reaching out to all those guys about Alpha, and none of them turning up. When my mate came by I asked him his opinion about the different types of thermal underwear and to my surprise he said he had an extra set he didn't really need, and went and got them for me! Well my wondering about whether synthetic or wool was best was resolved, he had one of each. Some blue synthetic pants and a brown wool top. That night I headed out to hear a friend's band play at a pub, and so I put the thermals on to test them out. They worked well except the woolen top was prickly against my skin, and so I did a little switcheroo and put my t-shirt on under the woolen top, and it was fine after that. Walking back to the shed that night I found the thermals were very effective in keeping me warmer, although it wasn't winter yet..

A funny thing happened. In the morning, before I headed off into the city, each of the house mates stopped by for a chat at different times, and each one told me that I was welcome to use the shed whenever I wanted, for as long as they were there.. wow (I later checked with my mate and he confirmed they had not discussed it with each other). So I now had the warmer clothing and shelter if I needed it. I really felt God was speaking to me through this that provision had been made for me to continue on with my journey through the Winter.

Later I was back at HJs and the manager noticed me at near the counter and said "weren't you the guy I wouldn't give the water to? I have since thought about it and decided you were right, I should have given you the drink." I thanked him and said not to worry about it.

In the evening I went to my friends place for our Friday night tv catchup. He asked me if I was going to have a shower and I explained I was still on my food/washing fast until the ten days was up (tomorrow). He offered to wash my feet for me (on account they were a bit smelly) but I said that would still be breaking the rules of the fast I had set myself. Over the next couple of minutes I thought about it some more and decided that the purpose of the fast had been to receive guidance from God as to whether to continue the Faith walk beyond the three month period, and I felt that I had received that answer in the recent provisions. So I felt comfortable about ending it a day early and went and had a shower, followed by a hot dinner :)

I visited my family for my Dad and brothers combined birthday get together, and relaxed. I thought about what God would have in store for me as I continued on. Since the first 3 months had now come to and end, and I had decided to continue on through Winter, I thought it most likely that I wouldn't need to rethink my direction until probably December 07, a year later from when the Journey began..