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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Connecting through trust

Another mission with the Akron Snow Angels today and I have come away from it with a slightly different perspective on things.   All of the missions set out with the same ideals, but they all seem to have a different feel to them.   There’s an evolution that’s happening here on a lot of different levels.   It’s a good feeling.  
When you wake up to a day that is 48 degrees and raining, it’s not exactly exciting for most of us.   For those that live without a roof of their own, it is pleasant change from -5 degrees and snowing.   With this, you can see that the focus has started to change.   People are asking about waterproof boots, raincoats, and umbrellas.   Staying dry is now the priority, but that can be a tall order during this time of year in Akron, Ohio.   Why is this exciting?    It’s warmer.  The “will I freeze tonight” is becoming less and less of a question.   That is one less thing for someone to worry about.  
As I was talking with people today at our first stop, I felt a bit torn. It’s a similar feeling that I had with Rudy on the good/bad side of things.   It’s nice to see that people are safe.  It’s nice to chat with the same people and get to know them.   It’s hard to realize that they are still in the same difficult situation.   It’s tough knowing that it’s a daily struggle just to survive for some of these people that I feel connected to.   I leave happy and less concerned than I have been in weeks past, but a bit sad at the same time.
The second stop usually consists of slightly shorter interactions, but quantity increases at least 10-fold.   Even with the rapid fire interactions and the wide cross section of people, I feel that I really am still able to learn about and connect with some of them.   There is a bond, a friendship, and trust that comes when you open yourself up to talk with people.   In a situation where there is constant fear for health, belongings, and mere survival, it’s an amazing thing to see someone relax for a few minutes.   They feel good for a few minutes.   It’s wonderful to be able to deliver that also.
One of the interactions that was memorable today was with a gentleman that we had ordered boots for.   He is a tall, slender man that I remembered from our last mission as soon as I saw him.   He is very nice, but is quiet.   He has a unique breathing pattern that hinders his ability to speak sometimes.   He needed our patience to get the right information to us so we could find his boots.   We didn’t rush him as there was no need.   We let him do his thing.   I could tell that he really appreciated our willingness to work with him and wait for him.   With some patience, I found his boots buried in bags of requested items and handed them to him.   He must have thanked me 15 times and when he left, held out his hand for a fist bump.   To him, it seemed like a lot to reach out to do that.   To me, it was a connection.     
My lesson today was a reinforcement of a previous one.   Trust...Don’t expect it, work with people and make it a point to earn it.   Trust is the key in all relationships and is well worth it.   I feel that I have earned the trust of some people today.   Although these relationships may not be the ones that get me a corner office overlooking the city, they have a value that I can feel and that I treasure.   

If you haven’t had a fist bump from a homeless person make your day…maybe you should.