I haven't really given much thought to my birthday this week. I have been busy with taxes, church, getting ready for Easter. Besides, a birthday isn't the same when a person isn't a kid or doesn't have kids around. Still, I had a good day and a good week. For the day, I took our dog on a long run through Arcata Community Forest. I love the trails up there. After that, I went and played some disc golf with some friends. It was a good time! I spoke to my children, my parents, my brothers and hung out with my wife. Now, I'm at Starbucks enjoying some coffee before going to church to preach -- It's good to be doing something I believe I was born to do.
On Thursday I visited the "homeless camps" of Eureka with a group from the church. It was a great experience. We handed out Bibles, food, can openers (P38's), blankets and prayed for a lot of people. The living conditions in those places was deplorable -- as bad as any slum in the world. The people living there didn't fit any particular "mold". I didn't see too many choosing this as their lifestyle. Yes, there were a few who were obviously chemically dependant, but there was an elderly couple, a young couple living in their car, a single man in his mid 50's with a spotless tent, a pet cat and a motor scooter (I think he was just looking for an apartment), a "gypsy", and a variety of other characters. The group who led this outreach included a few people who had been there once in their life -- they knew these people by name. They were walking proof that one's life could change.
The day before I had been having lunch at the Ingomar Club, within eyesight of some of the homeless camps. I saw that in a day, I had experienced both ends of the spectrum of life in this community. I could see the Lord working in both places. I felt like it was good for me, as a pastor, to see the extremes of life in our city. I believe every pastor needs to know the poor in their community -- the Gospel is clear about the priority of ministering to the poor and the hungry.
I am looking forward to seeing our son perform with his jazz choir tomorrow night in San Francisco. I think we can get there by 7:30 p.m., even with 101 blocked by a mud slide. At the end of next week, my older brother is getting married and I"ll see our daughter and my parents at the wedding.
Now it's back to "church". Looking forward to it. I am thankful for the past year. I am hopeful for what the Lord has in store during the coming year.