Denver Day 5, 2017
By: Anna, Andrew, and Bret
Hey y’all. Today started off a little rough, I was super tired after four full days of adventure and friendly conversation, so I mobbed into morning prayer a little late (at least I made it). After prayer, instead of having mass, we ate a quick breakfast and headed out for street ministry. My group went to Speer Blvd. and began our time at Father Woody’s day shelter. Woody’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to our friends experiencing homelessness and informs them about events where they can receive other services. Outside of Woody’s I had a brief conversation with Country, who showed me his sick bike he had built from the ground up with parts he had found himself, but he rode off so he could grab his friend and come back to get food. Inside I met Terry and a woman whose name I could not hear. I was jealous of the woman because she had driven trucks for years and had traveled all over the country, unlike myself, but of all the states she had seen Montana was her favorite, just like myself. After meeting with a few more folks and having a wonderful meal, our group decided to head to a nearby park.
Once we entered the park we split up. Deidre and I encountered a man named Chuck. He was new to town, had only been homeless for a few years, and was very new to the Denver area. We offered him a sack lunch we received from the people at Woody’s and the look on his face was unbelievable. It was easy to see Chuck had been drinking by the way he talked and the half empty vodka bottle sitting next to him, but something about my conversation with him was more real than any of the other friends I had met this week. I could easily see myself reflected in the stories he was telling us. Like many, Chuck had regrets and it was clear his past choices were weighing him down. He was so lost and confused about where he was and how he ended up in such a state. We told him about lunch in the park and about Woody’s; I will never forget the way his face lit up. He was to taken back that we wanted to help him out and better his situation because he was used to people walking by and not even acknowledging him. It broke my heart that a group of kids from Montana had to travel eleven hours to make this man feel like a human who mattered.
As much sadness and regret as there are in the streets of Denver, one would be surprised by the amount of joy. Many of these people have the opportunities to work and make money but value their freedom too much to follow through on their work. It is not the case with everyone, that is obvious, but many of the people I encountered on previous days especially my friend Paul believed God was on their side and had put them exactly where He thought they were needed the most.
I cannot believe today is Friday already. I would love to stay here, but I am also ready to return home (plus I paid too much to Carroll to miss too much school). I have made so many amazing bonds with other Carroll students, with people from the other groups at Christ in the City, and especially with my friends in the street. I will never forget the feelings, friendships, and good times shared on this trip. Christ in the City has truly changed my life.
Wow. What an incredible journey this week has been. Today I was doing street ministry in the Capitol Hill area. I had the pleasure of talking to so many wonderful friends on the streets. There was one friend, Brent, that I had met previously on Tuesday. He is a friend of Christ in the City. Him and his other friends hang out on the same street every day. I loved being able to see him again and talk to him even more. Today we ended up falling into discussion about God. Brent started asking me where I saw God in the world, where I saw Jesus, and what I feel I was made for. I answered these questions without thinking too hard about them, but then Brent told me his answers. He said that he finds God in his heart, that he dwells in him. He said he feels that his purpose is to make people smile and laugh (he certainly succeeds in that). As I left the streets today I had to choke back my tears. These people have become my friends.
I have been able to see my own wounds in the wounds of my friends and they have brought me immense healing. Their strength astounds me and their happiness lights up my life, but walking with them in their suffering shows me the true meaning of Christ in the City’s motto, “Love until it hurts.” This comes from a quote of Mother Teresa that says, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” This is one of the sayings that helped me define and deal with my week here. Not only did I experience this love, but if there wasn’t this quote to explain it then I would have been incredibly lost. I hate the fact that I am having to pack up and leave all of my new friends on the street tomorrow. These new friends of mine are incredibly beautiful. They have brought me to an encounter with the Crucified Lord. His people are beautiful and there is no other way that I would have rather spent my spring break then encountering his people on the streets.
One of the missionaries, Dillon, asked us where we saw Christ this week. To be honest I was beyond stumped at first. I had seen Christ everywhere and at the same time nowhere. This week was incredibly hard for me as I felt as if I had been kicked on my butt repeatedly with the outright dehumanization that my friends on the streets had experienced. I suffered with them. I loved until it hurt. I sat in adoration with this question and I realized that I saw Christ in and through the kinship of his people. I saw him through every experience I had. There is no definitive moment that I can think of where Jesus jumped out at me making his presence abundantly known. He was present throughout my encounters. He was with me as I learned how to love his people. As we head out tomorrow I am sad to leave my friends on the streets, but I know I can carry them with me and be with them through prayer.
Andrew M Roozen
So, first of all, I am sorry for making such a promising photo look so bad. Only Andrew can make a photo with two beauty’s look awful. So, I apologize to Anna and Bret. Now to the week. Since I am the last one who will be blogging for Headlights Denver I’ll try and put my week into words. When I first signed up on headlights (due to an extremely smart person I talked with about) I was dead set on Chicago, but the Lord had called me to Denver. All I have to say is the Lord knows more than I do. This week was a true blessing. It all started at 5 am on Sunday when I got out of my bed packed and left to get gas station coffee. When we left, we need gas and leave it to Andrew to mess up opening a gas tank. The trip over was beautiful. Seeing what God created not only in Montana but also in Wyoming and Colorado. When we arrive at CIC we all had one thing on our minds. FOOD!! The next day was filled with training and trying to get an idea of how to approach and talk with our future friends. That afternoon, we set out. Now, you are all probably thinking that Andrew can never shut up, I am always talking and sometime talk way too much. This may come as a shock to a lot of people that I was really hesitant to go and talk. Finally, something that has the ability to shut Andrew up. But to my parents distained that did not last long. The next day I went to a food line that has been a thing for over a hundred years at a local church. (Churches in Denver are beautiful) At this line I met Paul and his dog Belle. Paul was a true American Hero. Served in Vietnam from 1963 to 1970 on the USS Coral Sea. Paul left the Navy and entered school in California where he graduated from undergrad and graduated from Stanford graduate school in English. This was the first places where I truly saw what God was all about. Paul was 100 percent happy. He told me he does not have any bitterness because he is a part of Gods plan and he trust that God does everting for a reason. WOW. He has nothing but the stuff on his back and he is a happy with no complaints. Stop reading for a second and ask yourself if you are 100 percent happy?? With what is going on back home for me, seeing what material things can do to people this really struck me to my core. I was amazed that a vet, college grad, and grad school grad who is living on the streets can be 100 percent happy. For it show that you don’t need everything we think we need to be happy and that Gods plans will show you the way to glory.
The next day was a day full of ironies. We had lunch in the park where CIC goes and feeds anyone who is there. Another thing that amazed me was how GREATFUL these people are. So, this was the International Day of Women and there was a protest at the State Capital overlooking the park were the food was being served. Now, I don’t want to be hard or mean about this day for women but it struck me that a far greater unjust was how we as people treat the poor. My heart was torn because I feel so strongly about equality but the Lord was telling me through these people that while being informed about all this is nice the true measure of my soul is how I have treated the poor. I came into this ignoring the poor and thinking that they are lazy, drunks, and uneducated. Boy, was I wrong. These people are just as much human as you or I are. We are all created in God’s hands and sent out to do his work. I truly open my eyes about the injustice that our countries have for the poor.
After a long few days of great work we got a day off. We went for a hike with the entire squad of 30 or so people. The guy who lead the hike as awesome. He loved to talk about baseball. So, me and him jabber on about the M’s and the Rockies and games we saw and didn’t see. After the hike, we went and visits our old Carroll alumni and the Seminary. This place, you could just feel the Holy Spirit and God’s love everywhere you went. The chapel was full of color, the statues of Mary and Joseph popped with color. After about 1000 photos that I took we decided that we should invade a Mexican restaurant with our old Campus Ministry friend, the one and only Katy Murray. So, funny story that last time I saw her I told her for the second time was leaving Carrol for a second time. Turns out the good Lord had other plans. It was a blessing to see Katy again, we talked about how disappointed we were with our WSU Cougars (Go Cougs) and the many different protest that Denver had.
The last day is today and Friday. WOW a week flew by like Forrest Gump running like the wind. This is where this experience really hit me. Another man name Paul was sitting in the park when Abra Casey, Pablo and I walked up started to talk with him. We talked for 2.5 hours. We covered a lot of stuff. The most striking thing that was said that he knew for sure that there was a God. Abra, being the thinker and the smart one of the group ask “Well how do you know?” Paul replied with five or six different near death experience he had that made his see how GOD works. Since its late and this story is better told in person I want to end you with the last thing he said that made my day and I think Abra’s as well. Paul said “thank you guys for doing things. I will never forget you”. At that point, I wanted to cry because I saw how powerful God is.
Andrew M Roozen