Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Unless a seed falls

I spent today at Jacob's Well, like every Wednesday this year. I'm getting paid now! I'm on staff! After two and a half years of volunteering. I will be working there full-time this summer. Here's a taste of today, a taste of the Well... (check out our website if you want)

I took the bus for 40 minutes to arrive at Jacob's Well, on Main and Cordova.

I spent the morning tackling the problem of how to reconcile Quickbooks with our bank statements for 2008. I rejoiced when the numbers added up!

I cut up half a pineapple to share at Colleagues' lunch. Every Wednesday, we invite other people who minister in the downtown eastside to come eat lunch with us. Usually we have between 5-10 guests. It's great - a lot of us bring food to share, and we share stories and prayer requests and pray together and drink tea.

I wrote a cheque to Telus. I wrote a cheque to the Receiver General.

Someone came in to use our bathroom. They asked if we were trying to fix doors. Berto explained that those are our tables. (Our tables are made of old doors.)

I headed out to the Farm. We have two community gardens in the downtown eastside, and we call them collectively "Red Clover Farm." Today, I got to plant onions, parsnips and lettuce. I also transplanted two trees with Berto. We have too many for the farm, so we put them outside the garden, near the street, on city property. An elderly Chinese lady came by and encouraged us, although she couldn't speak English. She used her fingers to show us that she is 78 years old. She laughed when I tried to repeat after her in Mandarin, and gave me a thumbs-up sign. Maybe I should try to learn Mandarin.

At 5:00, I walked to the bus stop with very dirty hands. On the way, a lady tried to sell me a flower. My heart sank. It was our friend J., the flower lady, for whom we had tried to find temporary housing in January. I had spent a whole afternoon with her that month - she had been off drugs for a while, and we tried to set up an interview for her at a drug-free housing unit, so that she could stay clean. She had been very kind and articulate that day. But today, I could hardly recognize her, and she definitely didn't recognize me either. It was like she was a different person, disheveled, bent over, scowling and shuffling along with her flowers, getting angry at me because I didn't want one, yelling and complaining to everyone who passed. Another attempt to stay clean, foiled. This was the first time I'd seen this kind of "before and after" change in a friend of ours... my co-workers, Joyce, Jane, Dawn, Berto, Tom and Dave, see this all the time. I'm starting to realize how discouraging ministry on the downtown eastside can be. Watching friends make good choices, and then turn around back down the same destructive path again.

I rode the bus home, another 40 minutes. Tried not to think about the flower lady. Tried to think about those seeds I planted... thinking how crazy it is to put something that tiny into the dead ground, and to expect life to burst from it.