I Love Lucy
This month we asked one of our new volunteers to share with you about her first experience on Search and Rescue.
I was a little nervous going out for the first time on Search and Rescue. I had volunteered with OurCalling a few times by helping to serve lunch, but I’d never gone out on the streets looking for homeless people. OurCalling started as a groups of volunteers who would serve meals to individuals living on the streets in order to share the hope and love of Jesus—that was seventeen years ago. Homeless people now come to OurCalling for help, but the original heart of those early days—to seek the lost—hasn’t changed. “OurCalling seeks out the homeless community as a shepherd goes out and looks for a lost sheep—that’s why I love Search and Rescue,” Stan said, an OurCalling staff member who leads Search and Rescue.
As the four of us piled into the van, I quietly prayed and asked God to keep us safe. Stan drove us over to Mockingbird Road. I’d often traveled the busy street on my way to catch a flight at Love Field. Stan parked the van, and we walked over to a man and woman lying on the sidewalk underpass. The woman sat up as we approached. I figured she’d feel safer if another woman initiated the conversation. I extended my hand and tried to introduce myself over the trucks that rumbled past. She laughed and introduced herself as Lucy. I laughed too (my name is Ethel.) I asked her if Stan and I could sit down. Then I smelled a strong urine odor. I wondered if Lucy struggled with incontinence. I felt compassion for her as I considered the extra burden the medical condition meant for her life on the streets.
Lucy and I agreed it had been several years since either of us had seen the TV show I Love Lucy. While we chatted, I noticed Lucy had on makeup, one earring in her left ear, and a faux pearl necklace. I complimented her red hair. She told me that her friend had dyed it for her the previous week. Despite everything, Lucy still cared about her appearance. Stan asked her for her birth date and entered it into OurCalling’s database of the homeless community. After reviewing the notes on his iPad, he asked Lucy, “Is your name Nancy*?” She laughed that he’d found out her joke and said, “yes.”
While they compared notes about the last time Stan had visited her, I silently added up the years between our birthdays. Nancy was just seven years older than me—but she looked old enough to be my grandmother. “The stress of life on the streets ages you,” Stan told me later. “Our homeless friends have the baseline health of someone 20 years older than their actual age.” We gave Nancy some water and pastries that we’d brought along to share, and Stan encouraged Nancy to visit the facilities at OurCalling which provided clean clothes, a shower, and a meal.
Before we left, Stan asked me to pray for Nancy and I agreed. Nancy asked me to pray for her safety—especially at night. The three of us held hands, and I prayed the same prayer of safety for Nancy that I’d prayed that morning for us—and then I realized—I really did love Lucy.
*Nancy’s name has been changed to protect her identity.