In March of this year, Swallowtail Trauma Integration Society "adopted" a homeless camp located near Island 22 in Chilliwack. We found a person who seemed trustworthy, and asked him if he would be willing to distribute food amongst his co-campers if we brought food for him to do so each Sunday. And thus, in-roads to the camp were forged.
"Frank" (pseudonym) has become a leader in the camp due to carrying the role of food distribution each week. As time passed, the other residents of the camp began treating Frank with more respect, and this in turn brought about a renewed sense of self-respect and self-worth in Frank. He now greets us each week with a handshake and a hug, expressing his gratitude for the work we are doing with him and the camp.
Others in the camp have stepped up as well, taking on additional responsibilities and roles. "Wilma" receives a box of raw ingredients for soup or stew, and each week she puts together a hot meal for all of the residents which she cooks over an open fire, and "Betty" now calls herself the "camp mom" as she monitors the behaviours of the younger men, encouraging them to make better choices each day.
We let this informal leadership team know that in partnership with St. Thomas and St. Matthew Anglican Churches, Swallowtail would be bringing water-resistant or thermal socks and other warming items for them to distribute among the residents, and they beamed with thanks. Jay and I will be celebrating Christmas with the camp on Boxing Day, bringing a supply of food as well as the socks, hats and other items the churches gathered together.
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your involvement in this initiative. As we have been working with the camp residents, they are genuinely feeling loved, and they are consistently grateful. Thank you for helping to warm the feet, hands, heads and HEARTS of this very special group of people.
If any of you would be willing to offer prayers for these members, we have some specific request: One woman's husband of 40 years died in the past couple of weeks, and she is bereft in her grief; please pray for peace and hope. Another woman was recently diagnosed for the second time with cancer; please pray for peace and healing. Finally, a man who was released from prison after serving a very long term is having difficulty re-engaging with society in appropriate ways; please pray for wisdom for this man.