Archive for April, 2011

April 29, 2011

Hannah Renata Roescher, April 25 2011


We know that many who would want to be present were prevented from doing so, because they couldn't travel, because they had to work, and even because they haven't heard about her passing yet. Hannah was know by so many across the country. However, we stood today in Austin as representatives from the street youth and traveling community in their stead. We were joined by SYM volunteers, friends, and representatives from the UT student body as well.

We began with a welcome and a prayer asking God to set aside this particular time and place to be safe for everyone to remember Hannah and to share their grief together for a time. 

We listened to a happy song called "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show about happy times of traveling the country. We ready Psalm 150 outside under the trees with the wind blowing. Then we shared good time had with Hannah:
  • She could hold her liquor well!
  • She was one of the few women I really enjoyed having a few beers with.
  • She was a great listener. I talked about the loss of my grandmother with her and my boy fried. That's it!
  • She had a mean right hook! And used it on me once!
  • She had a great sense of humor and could make anyone laugh.
  • She was so sweet. She used to quietly tell me, "It's OK. That guy is a jerk to me too sometimes" after a bad encounter with a street guy who was usually very angry.
  • I'm just so happy that she make my road dog so happy. I never saw him so happy and I just am grateful for that.
After we talked about all the ways we celebrate Hannah's life, we began to share the incredible loss of her life. We listened to a song called "Free and Alone" by Pat the Bunny of the Wingnut Dishwashers Union. We read John 11:41 and Romans 12:15. Then we shared things we are missing about her and Zach:
  • I will miss her smile.
  • I will miss telling jokes and laughing with her.
  • I'll miss drinking a beer with her.
  • It is such a grief to me that she never set eyes on her son.
The group mourned the loss of Hannah and expressed great compassion to the family and to her fiance. The group talked about how troubling it is to be reminded that none of has a guarantee on tomorrow. The group also talked about how Hannah inspires them and gives them hope. Even though she lived a short life, she was able to do the right thing at the right time, turning her life around when she decided it was time. Many at the gathering expressed how that they can do the same.

After talking about the loss, we turned back to celebration. We listed to a song by Flogging Molly called "If I Ever Leave This World Alive." We read 1 Corinthians 13:12-13. And then we shared thoughts on what endures of Hannah and Zach:
  • Both their souls are in a better place now. They are still with us.
  • I will carry her memories with me all my life.
  • Her fiancées life is forever changed by knowing Hannah and Zach. That will last forever.
  • I am hopeful because of Hannah. I'm trying to change my life and it gives me hope to know she did it, too.
  • There are hundreds of travelers around the country who knew Hannah. Their love and friendship will endure.
We closed in prayer, focusing especially on Hannah's fiancée and family. We asked God to give them strength and comfort, to keep them safe, and to give them encouragement in the days ahead as they continue to grieve for this tragic loss. Amen.

"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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April 8, 2011

What Am I Supposed To Do Part 2


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Last week's article described the desperate plea from an emotional street youth, "What am I supposed to do?", along with a key question, "What are we supposed to do?". The article has sparked a lot of comments and feedback. Good!

We've had insightful and open responses from street youth, former street youth, and followers. Suggestions and comments have come on both questions of "What is a desparate street youth to do?" and "What are we to do?".

On the issue of the street youth, some had said the street youth must be patient. Some have said the youth must work harder. Some have said the youth must want to get better. Some have said there is a big danger of the youth becoming dependent on handouts and getting even more stuck on the street. Many have said the youth needs help from loving compassionate people. All insightful answers and all with truth in them. Here are a few excerpts from comments. None are intended to be out of context, but you can read the entire comments on FaceBook and the blog:

  • I loved the open and loving famly of the street. I had more trust in street people that normal people.
  • God gives us the opportunity to change and if we want to.
  • I was a street kid. I have to say that a majority of street youth just want things done for them. Prayer is one of the best hopes our until we are ready to make a change.

I can tell you what the particular youth who uttered these words to me is doing.  The youth has decided to take things one day at a time. The youth has reduced drinking. The youth has found a friend with a house willing to share a couch and a bathroom. The youth feels a bit torn between the old lifestyle, hanging out with real street family every day, and being with new friends. But the youth is taking it day by day.

On the issue of what should we do in response to street youth needs, we've had a variety of answers, as well. We have heard from street youth who say we need to be much attentive, treating them with much more dignity and respect and being much more generous. We've heard from former street youth that we need to take great care and not enable the street youth with too much care for too long. That their discomfort and lack needs to be a signal for them to think about, plan, and begin to make changes in their life. And we have heard from followers who express a real sense of helplessness in not knowing how to respond. They offer to pray but don't know what else would be of real, significant and lasting value. Here are some comments in no particular order and from all the above groups of people:

  • Even years later I still need reassurance that people accept some of my eccentricities.
  • Sometimes all you can do is say, "Here I am. I accept you." Be the stability they need.
  • Hold a street youth without pressure. Like a wet bar of soap. If you squeeze too tightly, it will slip away.
  • You need to do more than pray. When we're in need of something you can give and all you do is pray, it's not helping.
  • Prayer is good but there is also a certain amount of action needed on both parts (street youth and others).
  • Do nothing blindly but don't be numb.
  • There is a testing of the spirits that has to be done so we know that [help] is not in vain.
  • I believe that anyone who holds on to trivial posessions while there are hungry people in the world is falling short of the mark. I'm not saying everyone should go out and sell all they own, but I believe the person we should all be striving to do would… and did.

In the next part of this article we will explore what Christ would do… or at least what the Bible suggests on the whole that Jesus would do today. What would Jesus do? What am I supposed to do? Great questions with which to keep wrestling! "What are we supposed to do?" Please share your response to this series.

— Terry

"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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