Christmas eve came and because we were flexing around a captain's schedule, it gave those grown kids of ours the day to spend with their other families. I so looked forward to the next day and didn't feel one bit pitiful for having some time alone. We spent the eve of Christmas eve together at a local theater company's "Family Christmas Show" where the Deeds passed out candy canes to the guests around us.
We got such a kick out of him as he included a warning with the peppermint treats. To the 6 elderly people just in front of us, our own little 3 year old blond elf offered "Would you like a candy cane? They are a widdle bit thpicy (spicy)". They giggled so in relief, to have gotten that disclaimer.
Anyway, here I was caught on the day between two memorable days and couldn't shake the thought of William and what on earth he would be doing for Christmas. I am not generally a regifter, but we are always the recipients of such amazing homemade treats and sweets during the holidays, I decided I would package up a few and head down to the Kingdom Center to see if I could find him.
When we talked on Thanksgiving and he told me he had been in town for only a few days and hadn't found a place to sleep yet, I suggested he look to help at the Kingdom Center. This is a local motel that is being renovated and converted into a transitional living center for the homeless. I wish this was just another in a succession of similar places in our beach town, but truthfully it is the first and only one of its kind and is clearly God doing a work, growing faith, and will be an opportunity for a second chance for many who want to become independent and need help. Complete owned and supported by Christians, churches and without any government money or dependence. AMEN.
William told me he had been a maintenance man, so I knew his many skills would give him a place to keep busy and feel productive if he chose it. All the labor is volunteer so there would be no paycheck for him, but the owners and visionaries of the project are all believers, and each room is sponsored by a different church so the opportunity to meet and be surrounded by good people was there. His other choice was to set up camp in the river bottom with so many other homeless people.
The river bottom is a tough area. D's station covers that area, and with their own culture and community, there has been a lot of trouble, crime and violence there. When we left him on Thanksgiving we did warn him of that and prayed he would choose working, even for nothing, over the trouble in the river bottom.
Several weeks later, one of the owner's at the Kingdom Center posted a video update on his facebook, and when I clicked on the link, there was WILLIAM! He was in several different shots doing different parts of the project and I was so thrilled. Grateful he had chosen that environment where I knew God's people would be in and out and surround him. That is where he was spending his days, but I worried about where he spent his nights.
So goodies in hand, I headed there on Christmas Eve. Empty, the whole place. I should have known. There was a van in the parking lot with someone inside so I asked that someone if he knew William. "Yes, I am waiting for him and another guy to take them to Christmas dinner, he should be here in about 20 minutes". The Harbor, what a great ministry.
Jackpot! So I waited.
I don't know if he remembered me right away, but we talked for a minute and he said "I didn't think I'd ever see you again". Cause don't you know that is what happens. If someone does take a minute to show some kindness, they aren't usually attempting any kind of relationship. A one time gesture is much easier, appreciated to be sure, but fleeting.
"I can't get you off of my mind. I think about you all the time." DANG! As soon as I heard myself say it, I was reminded he is a man and I am a woman and dang I hope he doesn't get the wrong idea. But judging from his expression and response, he was more amazed and grateful someone remembered him than flattered in any kind of "is she stalking me?" way. I told him he looked good (dang again) and he said he really liked hanging around the Kingdom Center. Of course you do, who doesn't like hanging around a place God spends some quality time? Only I said that to myself and not out loud, though I wanted to scream it and dance just a little at what was beginning. I handed him the goodies and warned him to share them, so he didn't get sick from too much chocolate because Lord knows if I am willing to stalk him, I'd also be likely to cause an overdose of sugar on Christmas. I handed him a small gift and gave him a big hug.
"You better start thinking about how you're gonna tell your story, William of the Kingdom Center, because God is gonna give you one, I'm sure of it." With that, the question of my sanity was sealed for him...not just a stalker...a crazy stalker.
Merry Christmas, William. I won't forget you.
Two decades later
12 hours ago