Saturday, September 24, 2011

Montreal: Je Me Souviens

North by Northeast

My friend Jameson is moving to Boston. He asked me if I would like to go with him. I said yes!

Night one was spend in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with James parents. Cedar Rapids is famous for having five seasons, the fifth season of course being fun! 

Day two was spend with Curtis, his wife Ellen, and Kaylea in Toledo, Ohio. If Toledo had a fifth season it would be crime. Toledo is infamous for being the third largest city for sex trafficking and slavery in the United States.

The third evening was spend in Toronto, Ontario stuck in traffic! While listening to the radio I learned that “some people have a sweet tooth but everyone has a meat tooth.”  I also learned that ten percent of Canadians smoke pot. The signs in Ontario are English but they make no sense, i.e. “ the collector is open ahead.”  What does that mean? Am I on a toll road?

This morning we arrived in Montreal, Quebec.

Canada depending on it relationship with the United States is either [ed. Note:  Dylan had to shower for church and the following was written by James] invaluable or worthless.  Their women are beautiful and their food is delicious.  But Toronto’s traffic jams inspire one to take up bicycling.   Their road signs, printed in French, are impossible to understand—particularly for the two of us, who speak no French.  Hmm…maybe that was the problem.

Upon arriving at Brittany’s apartment at 1:45 AM, we felt certain we’d be shanked on the sidewalk and left to die.  Random people wandered through the streets and alleys.  Trash littered the parking spaces.  Thankfully, Brittany quickly let us in and showed us where to sleep.  Her apartment is fantastic!  Very clean and comfortable.  We were pleasantly surprised to sleep in a 100% cockroach-free environment.  Thank you, Brittany (and Tammy and Murielle) for your hospitality!

It goes to show, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Can’t wait to explore the city now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life & Death

Life and death are knotted together. You cannot have death without first having life.

Last Thursday, my little sister Allison gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Tessa. Holding her in the hospital brought excitement to my soul that I had never felt before. I have held plenty of babies before but this one was different because it is my sisters.  I can only begin to imagine the enthusiasm that Allison and Azuri have.

When they checked out of the hospital it felt kind of like Christmas to me. One year, I got an electric train set from my grandparents. I was thrilled! I remember my dad giving me instruction on how to operate my new trains before playing with them. It was kind of like that. The nurse educated Al on how to care for a new born. I think Allison knew most everything the nurse told her. But after that we got to take Tessa home for Sabbath lunch! This was a beautiful celebration of life.

Today was nothing like Sabbath. Today one of guys at the mission was murdered. He was stabbed to death.  Some of his friends from the Mission witnessed it.  Thankfully this didn’t happen at the Mission.  

One of his friends came in crying with the news, covered in blood. There were pictures of the paramedics taking him out of the house posted on the Internet and live footage broadcasted on TV from the crime scene.

Just the day before, I helped this man; Pete cut the lock off his locker because he had lost his key. I remember talking to him. I had worked with Pete before. That day Pete turned in his last chore ticket.  He was only 29 years old; he had no idea that tomorrow he would die. Scarier still, the perpetrator had stayed at the mission before. This is only the fourth homicide to happen in Lincoln this year. 

“Lately death and life get so confusing
I can’t tell the difference here tonight”

Jon Foreman 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Badlands & Not So Badlands

"This broken country has been called always, by Indians, French voyagers, and American trappers alike, the Bad Lands." - Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

People's City Mission

I sit here, weary and drained, wondering if I even have the energy to write. Today was exhausting, day two of three 12-hour shifts.  Ad hominem arguments consumed the day.  The assortment of claims included me being a motherfucker, that I wasn’t a Christian, and that I was a little bitch.

Some men at the mission only have respect left to give, while others sadly never learned how to give respect at all. 

 Shattered homes, shattered careers, shattered dreams, and shattered lives are the central stories for the men that live at the Peoples City Mission.  For some men, a lifetime’s possessions have been abandoned. While other men have never even aspired far enough in life to have had the opportunity to abandoned their possessions.  Some men have failed tremendously at being fathers and the only thing they shall give their children is sorrow and insecurity, that will haut them for the rest of their lives.   Other men have been poor lovers and have ruined marriages.  They have been abusive both verbally and physical with women. These men have been reckless in their pursuits.

Many of these men have done nothing honorable with their lives and for that I am sometimes tempted to despise them. 

All of these men have mothers. Some mothers will call the mission looking for their sons. Other mothers don’t have to go far to see their sons because they are only divided by a wall that separates the women’s and family side from the men’s shelter.  A few mothers send their sons money. One mother brought her son McDonalds.  Sadly many of the mothers have given up on their sons and wish to have nothing to do with their lives.

Despair has took root and flourished in these men’s lives and rightfully so. I am overwhelmed by their dysfunction and inability to stay sober, get a job, be responsible, and respect others. And I am equally terrified by their determinations to roll cigarettes all day, watch TV, abuse alcohol, and use violence.     

I can’t fix these men! I can only attempt to express to them respect and dignity, which they deserve, contrary to what the world may say. They too are sons of God and they too can be citizens of Heaven if they choose. God is able to give them a new ideal and a new optimum, when they have failed, just as he is able to do the exact same thing for us.

Marvelous expressions of resilience, creativity, and new idealism are possible among these men who have seen their old world destroyed and are now being forced to imagine a new one. And there are men like this too at the mission! Men who are determined to pay their child support and be involved in their children’s lives.  Men who are resolute to make right their lives with God and with the people they have hurt. Men who are fearful to look at a beer should they turn back to alcoholism. These men, though few, are turning their lives around and they are becoming beautiful and responsible citizens.