Saturday, October 20, 2007

Manna Packs in Austin

Carol and I were riding with Walter and Morgan to Macon and Kellsey's house in Austin last weekend when we came to a busy intersection and stopped for the light. There was an apparently homeless person standing just off the street, with a dog and with a sign asking for food. To my surprise, Morgan asked Walter to grab a "survival pack", which Walter then slid out from somewhere under the seat, and handed it out the window to the fellow with the dog. Carol and I were in the back seat of the car, and I looked down and saw more such packs underneath the front seat. Morgan said that people at their church pack these things to give to people like the one we saw at the intersection.

Because we have so many "homeless" in the downtown Miami area, this very much interested me. I asked Morgan if I could have a pack, and she gave me one. I took two photos, as you can see. One is of the kit all ready to hand out, packed inside the gallon size Ziploc bag. The second is of the contents of the kit unpacked so you can see them.

The kit contains, as I think you can mostly see, a bottle of water, a granola bar, a can of Vienna sausage, a pair of white socks, a big garbage bag, the kind that stretches, a tract with "Selected Bible verses from the book of Romans that leads us to new life", and a paper with a list of agencies in Austin that address the needs of these sorts of people.

My idea, maybe, is to pack a couple of these in my brief-case and have them ready to hand out. Not that, on an emotional basis, I really like those people. Because I don't. I also see hand-outs as giving them an incentive to hang around. But this is sort of a bargain that I may be interested in: I give you this kit and you, maybe, will read the tract and go to one of the local agencies. (I had thought about including a one-way bus ticket to Austin, but discarded the idea.)

UPDATE: Make that "manna pack" rather than "survival pack". (Thanks, Walt.) As in John 6: 57 and 58:

57As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.


Anonymous said...

One thing I noticed (it was a long light) was that the man immediately opened the bag and dumped it out to see what was inside. He commented that there was a pair of socks, and he seemed very happy about that. Morgan told us that homeless people are often in need of socks. His reaction, and the fact that he seemed very glad to have been given the bag, surprised me.

Anonymous said...

I need to say that I generally don't think very favorably of homeless people. Lots of them come down to winter in Miami every year. It really is a very nice place to spend the "season", if one can afford to do that. Several years ago there were a man and woman who hung out underneath a bridge over the canal between Medley and Hialeah. The intersection there, Okeechobee Road (US 27) and W 12th Avenue, is very busy, and they would "work" this intersection almost every morning during the rush hour, one on each side of Okeechobee road working the 12th Avenue traffic. They would walk up and down through the lanes of waiting cars with a hand out asking for money. Each of them had a very noticeable limp, and generally they would act as though they also had a lame arm.

Because I went through this intersection each morning on my way to catch the Metrorail in to work, I had many opportunities to observe them and learn their patterns. A couple of times I was going in later than usual, after the rush hour. I saw them walking along Okeechobee Road to the Metrorail station a couple of blocks away. Once we were riding in the same car on the train. Interesting that they then showed no sign of a limp or a lame arm. In fact, they seemed quite healthy and vigorous. Perhaps I shouldn't judge all "homeless" people by these two, but I confess that I tend to do that.

Paul Stokes said...

The man at the intersection in Austin also drank immediately about half the bottle of water, and, then, broke the half empty bottle in half and set the filled half down for his dog to lap. May God bless him and his dog.

MA said...

Our Kids in Mission at church pack those bags from time to time. They put peanut butter crackers in the package. Don't think they put socks in.

Elizabeth, our Outreach Chair, moved to Greensboro from Dallas. Must be something about those Texans!!