I did not write today's post. It was written by a friend of mine who lives in Arizona. It seems like a fitting ending to the last little series. I hope that the last few posts have not been too somber for you. I cannot say that I have any big solutions to the problems that I see. I don't think that way. But I have found that God leads me to broken people, or leads them to me, as the case may be. And when I find them, there is something he wants me to do. Sometimes, it is a conversation. Sometimes, it is a meal, or a ride, or a few dollars, or a prayer. Once he asked me to drive a man to the grocery store. That assignment lasted for two years. And I don't think I would have had time for two such assignments. And God knew that. And all the while, I watched other broken people pass me by. But I was not called to care for them. I often wondered why I was called to help that particular man. God only knows. But it's important. And I pray that you will find your own way. God only knows what the world might be like if we all listened.
Joel and Rottie
His girlfriend dumped him in the desert, looking for greener pastures I suppose. We found him camped with his little dog beneath a tree. He was from Pennsylvania. He didn't understand the desert, and the temperatures were rising above 110. He had a catheter, kidney stones, and a touch of dementia. Bad combination. He trekked three miles to McDonald's every day with his dog for food and soda, another mistake. Three miles out. Three miles back. Every day.
Eventually, he had to go to the emergency room. They took him by ambulance. I cared for his little dog while he was in. The dog was his lifeline to the world. Each time they were reunited the tears flowed. He was so grateful. The dog meant the world to him. But the world did its best to ignore him. He made the world uncomfortable. It was a world that wished he'd go away.
We couldn't get him a driver's license to get him a plane ticket. No birth certificate. No Social Security Card. No picture I.D. Our Church missionaries became his dearest friends. Out of desperation we found an abandoned motorhome in the desert and began to clean it out. For someone who had dodged Covid for three years, I was pretty sure I'd get the Hunta virus from all the rat droppings. We abandoned the cleaning and tried to get him into an R.V. park. Once they found out he was homeless, no one would rent to him. Another dead-end. They all had excuses. Joel was faceless, nameless. He had no voice. No advocate to plead his case. And the dementia didn't help. He got confused easily. He forgot appointments. He lost his phone a couple of times. Finally, a miracle. His sister back East sent money for a bus ticket.
The missionaries managed to get the bus company to consider Rottie a service dog. It was a light (of sorts) at the end of a long tunnel. Suitcase and guitar stowed safely on the bus he began his long journey East. But who would take him in at the end of his journey? We didn't know. But at least he was out from under that tree and away from the Arizona heat. But now he was entering an even more brutal desert: bureaucracy. And he would be alone in an unforgiving world.