trailer park…pt 6 – the incarnational journey final


Let me tell you of the remaining people whose funeral’s we performed and the injustices they encountered.

There was Benny (not his real name). The famous Benny. A slender and emotionally broken man in his sixties. Benny was estranged from his ex-wife and children due to religion. He had not seen or talked to his children in 30 years. Religion had ruined his family.

He lived alone in a trailer the size of large tent. Benny used to be on the street so this was a step up for him the last 8 years. In fact his link to the streets often left him hosting his former street friends. We would often go by Benny’s trailer and see a band of street people camped out in tents around his trailer (sometimes for weeks or months).

Benny was an alcoholic living on the scraps of welfare. I have a vivid memory of a conversation with Benny that is seared into my imagination. Benny didn’t like God but he warmed up to us God reps.

Louise and I were sitting in Ben’s trailer one night after they were told they had to sell and move. We had already been to the city on their behalf. Benny was drunk. Benny never showed fear, just strength to us. In that moment we saw his fear. He talked to us about how they were screwed without us and had grateful he was that we would fight for them. |We could see the panic in his face that night.

He couldn’t believe we would do something like this for them, for him. No one had ever in his memory.

We tried to help him see God in that experience. We eventually moved to an apartment where he lived a year or two before getting hit by a car while on a bike. After almost dying in the critical care unit at the hospital he was eventually released to die soon after from other physical issues. Benny died alone and lived alone. Near the end he experienced the love of His maker in a way he could see it.

Tim Horton (not his real name) was another unique man. He was an army veteran from the east coast. Tim had some signs of a deteriorating mind as we got to know him. The news of the move hit him hard and disoriented him further. He eventually had taken in a street prostitute, Susan (not her real name), to live with him… both because he was lonely but also because he was scared of his future and someone was better than no one in his mind.

We tried to both help Tim & Susan.

The police eventually raided Tim’s trailer and boarded it up before we could have him moved into a new place. Unable to get into his trailer and with growing signs of dementia.

Tim disappeared.

No one could find him for two days until news came of a hit and run in the middle of the night on an obscure road on the outskirts of town.

Word came to us that it was Tim.

All that was known was he was hit while walking on the side of the road in the night. All that was on his personal hood was his medals from when he served in the war. About 25 of us, including the Legion and people from the Trailer Park, carried out a memorial service on the roadside where Tim was killed unjustly.

Finally there was Martha….

The shining light of the Trailer Park. Martha loved being prayed for and would respond to the Holy Spirit’s presence easily. We moved Martha into an apartment, after 25 years in her trailer park. Across the hallway of her new apartment she met her new good friend Stephanie (not her real name) and lived out her last years there.

We would regularly visit Martha and Stephanie and pray for them, chat with them and just be with them. Sandy spent many hours fielding calls and concerns of these two widows. She did well to love on them.

There were many God stories in that time… cool and unlikely God stories of how he cared for his two widows.

I walked in to the apartment one day when Martha announced to me that the doctor told her she had cancer. This 5 foot nothing elderly women fell into my arms weeping as she told me. We prayed for Martha several times over this news.

It was not long after that she ended up in the hospital never to return to her apartment. Sandy was able to visit her in the hospital and in January of that next year Martha passed. Sandy organized the memorial service and Donovan lead it and gave the honor that was due her… A life we won’t forget.

Every memorial service reminded us that we went from caring and loving on an individual to talking about eternal things and the Jesus story to extended families and connecting them to a context for faith and Jesus.

It was profound. A story we stumbled into, really. We were looking one way when God was looking another.

We had longed to be intentional but not predetermined. We had desired to be attentive to people but not see them as projects. We had hoped to be focused but stay authentic.

Really, we wanted to find out if relationship, love and simply listening to the promptings of the Father were enough.

We discovered it was enough!

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on October 10, 2012.

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