Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Showers Saga - 20: The Sign Says It All

7:00 am, Wed. April 30 2008, we opened the door and switched on the sign and got ready to welcome people on the Downtown East Side to The Lord's Rain. Danilo Estrada, who's been serving alongside me for the better part of 3 years, and Brad (don't know his last name), who's a relative newcomer to Carrall Street Church/Gospel Mission, came to help oversee the operation. George Orr, a broadcast journalism instructor at BCIT, also came along with his video camera to record this latest milestone. George's contribution to the project has been another example of people offering whatever gifts they have, to make it work. He's an experienced documentary producer, but his first offer of help was to say to me, "I'm a crummy carpenter, so if you need crummy carpenters, I'm the guy!" He showed up for one of the work parties, and after seeing what was going on, said, "Why don't I get my camera from the car?"

And so, George has been taking videos of the efforts, as he's been able to.

(This is reminiscent of my childhood and teen years, when dad produced "Klahanie" on CBC: he always packed his 16mm camera in the car, and whenever he'd see something in nature -- seagulls swooping over stormy surf, a dew-encrusted spider web in the morning sun -- he'd pull out the camera and "presto!": more stock footage for the show.)

CTV sent a cameraman, too, and Janet Dirks showed up later to do an interview.

As for the main purpose of this, it's apparent that this will do what it's supposed to: connect with The Street. A number of people, whom I'd never seen before and who probably wouldn't set foot in the church per se, looked in to see what was going on. They'd have a coffee (including one person who used so much sugar, I wanted to tell him we'd just received a call from Manitoba, saying they were running out of beets*) and chat and make a mental note that if they wanted a shower, this was the place to go.

Finally, around 8:15, we got our first showering customer, one Tim Lexator (there'll be questions on this later), who came in with his wife, Christina, found out what we were about, and decided on the spot to be bold and try it out.
Tim's comment, "cleanliness is next to godliness", is actually not a Scriptural expression. I'm grateful to my cousin, Pastor Robin Davies at Cupertino First Baptist in Cupertino CA - just outside San Jose, if you know the way - for pointing that out to me, because my lack of organization had been not just a guilt trip in my life, but a holy guilt trip, until then. So now, when someone tries to use it on me, I respond with Proverbs 14:4 Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

Around 8:50 came our next client, a young woman named Dee, and then it was closing time.

So we'll open up again on Saturday morning at 7. After that, Kathy the Towel Lady (she has a last name: Kinahan) and her son Sean will be hosting a painting party of some young people organized from Westpointe Christian Centre, and Barry will lay down the tile. We'll be back open on Wednesday morning, and probably have the first Ladies' Night -- overseen by Kathy McPhillips, Sandy Benn, Janet Klassen and Amelia Shaw (and anyone else who wants to help with towels, soap, shampoo and such) next Friday, May 9.

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