Saturday, March 21, 2009

Remembering Homeless Kids Again

I ran into Sister Lynn today. I don’t know where she got “Sister” as an official title, but adults and homeless kids in West LA alike know her by that name. She is somewhat eccentric, and I have learned that a conversation with her will leave me longing to help. Somehow. That's her gift. She makes the chronic, terminal problems of homeless families urgent.

This woman literally spends her entire life caring for poor, hungry, neglected kids. In her battered green van that has seen too many city miles, she roams around LA, helping kids in big and small ways.

She is often seen with her cell phone, calling her random network of kind-hearted people.

"Do you know of anyone who has got a baby bed? We really need a baby bed today."

"Do you have any extra food, maybe some school clothes for these kids?"

It can be overwhelming.

She finds kids living with their parents in parks, under bridges, in transitional shelters and at over-priced, run down motels. She can’t take them home, but for a few hours she takes them places to play and enjoy childhood. She seems to know about every free childrens’ program in LA, and has her girls participating in several childrens' church programs every week.

I met Sister Lynn several years ago at an Awana’s program. I was sporadically volunteering at that time, and had the privileged of connecting with a couple of her kids then. One little girl, particularly touched my heart, a beautiful 6-year-old African American girl with huge green eyes that stared into my soul when we talked.

She was memorizing John 3:16. I read the Bible verse for her and she stared into my eyes and repeated it over and over until she had it by heart.

”God so loved the world…”

Such simple acceptance.

No questions asked.

When I saw my friend with her van today I asked about this girl. I hadn’t seen her in a couple years, and I seemed to remember there being some problems with her family at their transitional home.

The story I heard made me sick. Angry, sick, and really, really sad.

I wept when I got home, more than I have wept over injustice in a really long time.

I don’t like feeling this way. I don’t like knowing that our city of beautiful, famous people and perfect weather hides forgotten abused children. But it does.

As much as it hurts, I don’t really want to forget about it. I want my heart to be available to help in whatever way I can.

Because in the end I still believe that God loves the world.

Of these four children, three were homeless when I took the picture. One is my son. Two of the homeless kids found permanent housing with their mothers in Bakersfield. The other is my little friend whose story made me weep today.

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