“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” -Mother Teresa
Because Herb left his Indian reservation so suddenly years ago, he was disowned by his people. Therefore, he didn’t have a connection with either the white population or the Indian population. He told me that I was the first person whom he had talked to in weeks. During our extensive conversation, he told me something that I will never forget. Herb looked me straight in the eyes with the most sincere look and said, “Do you know where I might be able to adopt dog? I really would love to have someone who listens to me every day without judging me on the street corners.” It was in that moment that I realized how I was loving Herb; I was loving him by being available for him. I probably said an average of three or four sentence in the first hour of our conversation. I was an ear to hear his problems; I was someone who had given him time and respect.
"Listening is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur.” -Pope Francis
As the week came to a close, I realized how similar these friends experiencing homelessness were to the people I interact with every day. We are all broken and searching for love. We are all searching to trust. I came into this trip thinking I would be handing out food and telling people about Christ with words, yet I learned to evangelize Christ in my actions. People don’t always need to be preached at; people need to know they are loved and that they are worth loving. I can’t solve their problems, but I could remind them of their dignity.
I left this mission trip and I didn’t see any physical difference in Denver. There weren’t any new homes that were built, I didn’t pass out medicine or vitamins, and there weren’t any less homeless people on the streets. That was hard to comprehend at first, as I wanted to see material results of my efforts. We will never completely understand the difference we made in one week. I will never know the importance that my conversations and complete availability meant to these people. I pray that the way that we interacted with them changed their outlook on life, because they definitely changed mine.