Street Stories

Weblog of Seattle minister to the homeless Rick Reynolds, Operation Nightwatch

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Caring for human beings seems like the best use of my time, homeless or not.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Somali Family

Came in to a mess tonight. A homeless Somali family with five kids, one more on the way. I stuffed them into my Subaru (thank God -- no crash and no police) and took them to a north Seattle hotel.

Now, usually Operation Nightwatch can only pay for 1 night, and on occasions -- like a weekend -- we will pay for two. It isn't much time to figure out next steps. But I approved four nights, which will get the family through Sunday night. Partly I could do this because the hotel agreed to put seven people in a regular room (two kings) for a reasonable cost.

We pulled into the hotel parking lot and poured out of the car. The kids each took a share of the baggage and grocery sacks, I carried the three year old boy who had fallen asleep in the 20 minute car ride from downtown. The wife said something to the husband who translated. "She say, 'Whatever you want in the next life, God should give you.'" I thanked her.

Now the hotel clerk saw this huge family and took it all in stride. The sign in procedure was accomplished, and then the most amazing thing happened. It isn't the fanciest hotel in the world -- lots of poor folk getting by here. So we went to the room, and the clerk actually helped to carry the baggage, just like the best hotel in the world. It was truly amazing and heart warming.

As we said our goodbye's, the wife had one more really nice thing to say to me. She had a large heavy duty plastic shopping bag with her. "This bag was given to me by a European in the refugee camp in Kenya. I keep it with me and I never will forget that person who gave it to me. And I will never forget you either."

I think she'll name the baby after me.



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