Archive for June, 2012

June 26, 2012

Never Done Learning and Never Too Careful


I was attacked.  I wasn’t hurt but it could have been serious. It reminds me that I’m not bluffing when I tell volunteers that street youth can be dangerous when those very most extreme conditions come along. It also reminded me to never become too complacent. Most of the time (99.99%), it’s not going to happen. But it IS going to happen sometimes.

 

Here’s what happened. I saw one of my clients passed out on the sidewalk. My first duty was to make sure he was breathing. He was. After thinking things through for a minute, my next duty was to VERY carefully try to wake him. Even well rested and well adjusted people sometimes wake up wrong. I nudged his foot from a distance and called his name. No response. I shook his foot, carefully out of range of any likely response. No response. I gently shook his shoulder and called his name very loudly, telling him who I was. No response.

 

After some additional observation, I decided to call the police.  Someone would do it anyway, and probably better that I do it than I just walk away. I had my phone out, when a passerby not previously involved flagged down a patrol car. The same passerby also grabbed water from someone walking by and suddenly tossed it into the face of the sleeping man. I didn’t expect that and would NEVER have suggested it! It was a dangerous thing to do. The client woke up and came out swinging. I was the closest victim. Fortunately,  the “scared white man” dodged faster than the groggy man, even in his drug-crazed state. He only connected with my shoulder.

 

The police officer ran over and quickly pinned the client down. I declined to press charges. I accept responsibility for putting myself into a potentially risky situation. However, I urge everyone to NEVER throw water in the face of someone passed out who is breathing. You don’t know what sort of reaction you might trigger, but you can expect a strong one.

 

Today’s incident will not deter me.  I will put myself in this predicament again. It’s just part of what I know how to do and am called to do. However, the next time a stranger offers to help, I will advise them to step back.  I will step back also.  Even if a police officer is close enough to see the client, I think I will step back anyway. I am grateful that the officers were so helpful and prompt. They had a pretty big job subduing him.   

 

It will be interesting to see the reaction of my client when he finds out he attacked me. He knew me, but he was crazed by drugs. I anticipate a very guilty reaction. But that’s another day and perhaps another blog.

 

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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June 20, 2012

Dreaming Big


We had a wonderful prayer time recently. During it, 12 clients spent some time thinking about who God is and what’s going on in their lives and around them. They also shared what things they do that get in God’s way. Then we asked God to take action in each of their lives, in the lives of people around them, and on the Drag. We ended by talking about big dreams. Terry shared his dream of one day having a facility or partnership such that we could offer hostile-style rooms for rent or in exchange for work, drop-in services, mental and physical health care, and employment opportunities at a doggie day care for the West Campus neighborhood. The clients share their dreams. One young lady trying to get into ACC wants own a small bookstore one day. Another wants to run a veterinary clinic. Another wants a great big house with lots of rooms because she intends to adopt lots of unwanted children. Yet another dreams of a small footprint house that is part greenhouse, where he grows much of his food. 

 

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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June 18, 2012

April Story


After we covered one of my favorite heroes in our street Bible study, I found myself talking about him all week. I little expected to meet someone on the street that so reminded me of him!

Empty_tomb_ragged

The hero I describe has no name recorded in the Bible. This man lived alone, withdrawn from everyone. He lived in a way that no one understood and in a place that frightened everyone–in a graveyard. He wore no clothes and was frightening to meet. I’m sure people ignored him and hurried along whenever they had to go to the graveyard. I’m sure they wished he would just go away. Much of this man’s condition reminds me of street-dependent youth, but let me continue with the story.

 

Some people had tried to help and protect the man. For his own good, they had tied and bound him. But in some type of rage, he broke his binds and ran away. He couldn’t be controlled. So he was left outcast. No men came near him. The man continued to live alone with only the dead as his company.

 

The man had not always been this way. He had been educated, had dressed well, and had once spoken properly. He had once had family, friends, and even a home town. But all this was gone. The man had been overtaken by demons sometime in the past. Perhaps it had only been one at first,  and maybe a second came to torment him. More and more came until they numbered a thousand. They overwhelmed the man will with voices and urges. They made him destructive. They stripped him of everything, at least until the day the demons and the man met Jesus.

 

These demons were cast out by Jesus. They tried to save themselves but Jesus commanded them out of the man and into some pigs. These pigs immediately killed themselves. The Bible doesn’t say why, but I believe that the demons were trying to kill their host all along. Why didn’t they succeed in killing the man? We don’t know for sure, but I believe that the man resisted the demons with great inner strength. I believe that he lived alone in the graveyard to keep from hurting family and friends. I admire his strength so much!

 

When cured, people barely recognized him. The man dressed right and spoke well. The man loved Jesus for His help. This man asked to follow Jesus. In reply, Jesus said, “No. Go back to your family and hometown. Tell them what has happened to you.” With those words, I believe Jesus may have named his first apostle. What an honor! What an unexpected outcome!

 

Later that same week, I found myself talking with someone who reminds me of the man in many ways. He is a 20-year old plagued by an anxiety discover. He left his family and friends when his disorder became severe. He is one of the dirtiest kids I know and a loner. As I have gotten to know him, he has confided in me, “I freak out each morning when I wake up. I scream and yell. It’s ugly. So instead, I drink to quiet the voices and still the panic attack. It’s all I have found that works.” Medicines didn’t work for him. Counseling hasn’t worked for him.

 

I shared this hero’s story. In response he said, “I am so tired of this daily battle. It is so hard to keep going, but I do. I want to be that man. I want to be freed. I want to live again.” He is rethinking medical treatment. He is exploring the value of faith. He is looking for a way forward.

 

Easter is a time of resurrection. Jesus is no longer in the tomb! And because of the healing power of Jesus, both the men in this letter can be healed and restored. What a wonderful day it will be! How grateful the young man will be! What a powerful beacon he will be to others. I pray that all those living in isolation and torment will be freed. I admire their strength and courage to continue until that day arrives. May it be soon! Amen.

 

 

June 13, 2012

Summer 2012 Get unBored Booklet Ready!


Get "On Board" the fun express in Austin with these absolutely free and fun things to do and see in Austin! Updated for 2012!

The number one complaint of street youth (maybe all youth) is boredom and a lack of things to do. While this may not be at the heart of all problems, resolving boredom in a safe way certainly is often helpful.

We have compiled a list of free and safe things to do in Austin. It is in a fun pocket book format that you can carry with you anywhere. We have listed the days of the week and the closing time for most things. WE have listed the address and the most convenient bus round from the UT area.

Please leave your comments for new ideas of free and safe things to do in Austin. Also, please leave us any updates on things that were not good since things frequently change in Austin.

The attached PDF has two pages. The first page is the activity booklet. The second page is instructions for how to fold it into an 8-page booklet that is easy to carry in your wallet, purse, or pocket. Be sure to print the first page out using Acrobat viewer without the option to Fit to Printer Margins. If you don't remove this option, the page will be a little of center but it will still work.


"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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I'm a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
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June 13, 2012

Partnership Story


It was a long time coming. SYM sought a partnership with Fig Leaf, the clothing closet of University United Methodist Church for months. We were turned down multiple times.  We understood why… it seems like the Saturday clothing closet might be sufficient. However, as we introduced the leaders to our clients over time, they began to realize that our clients don’t like to mix with other “homeless” people. And very few

of them were coming on Saturday.

 

The leaders agreed to give it a try. We now regularly have 20 clients come to the clothing closet on Thursday. We initially  ran things just like Saturday, but we discovered that we could offer a light snack and fun games during the time, adapting the program to be more youth oriented.

 

We called this time “Lookin’ Good.” but to add additional focus on internal as well as external, we advertise it as a self-care time. Each week we try to talk about current issues of how to take better care of yourself onthe street. We have foot baths available.  In the summer, we discuss heat stroke, heat exhaustion, skin care, eye care, and good hydration. We’ve had guests come talk about AA, nutrition, wound care and more.

 

Recently, we began a tradition of spending time praying for each client in the hospital or in jail. We collect the names together and the clients take turns praying for friends.

 

Volunteers really enjoy working with our clients. What began as an uncertain partnership has turned into a real blessing for us, for UUMC, and for our clients!

 

Please reply and submit your own story of something you like about partnering with SYM! Or something that has surprised you.

 

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole

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June 9, 2012

SYM Volunteer Story


I have been volunteering with SYM for about a year and a half now, but last Friday was especially important as it took me to yet a deeper understanding of what life is like living on the street . In one square block I witnessed a dependent youth’s backpack being stolen (by someone who was not street dependent). Everything he owned was probably in that pack. I witnessed ambulances and police responding to a street fight involving two of our clients. 

 

I participated in a youth leadership project which involved dancing in the Renaissance Market on the Drag. In the end, this leadership group danced with SYM volunteers AND street dependent youth. One street youth said “I usually don’t get involved in this type of stuff, but it is important to these kids so I will do it.” I realized that life on the street is a battle every day and yet these street dependent youth still give of themselves to those that may not understand them. It is these times , good and bad, that I experience God. Bless these kids and their struggle to make it through just one day at a time. 

 

Join us as a volunteer.

 

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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Become a fan on Facebook!
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I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole

Follow SYM: Facebook LinkedIn Blog RSS Twitter Plaxo Etsy Etsy Blogger Google Buzz Tungle.me YouTube Google Plus

 

 

June 2, 2012

Recycling Bible Studies!


SYM is a green ministry. [See our green policy here:) . As I began to wonder what we should do this summer in our Bible study, I realized I had an opportunity to recycle! But not in the usual way.

 

We study books of the bible, verse by verse and chapter by chapter. We’ve done Job, Ruth, Matthew, Mark and Luke. We done topical studies on Psalms and we’ve done topical studies on parables. We just completed Matthew, and it took a long time! I wondered what to do next. After some consideration, I realized that we have been doing Bible study every week for three years this June. We have never been alone in the room and we have never failed to have hospitality, fellowship and food. Our average size is about 25 to eat and dwindles down to about 12 (either by people leaving early or napping).

 

I decided to start again with our very first study series. I have made teaching notes through the years for most of the classes. I wondered what it would be like to repeat. So I began last week. 

 

I made a big deal out of it, sharing with the street youth that we were commemorating three years of Bible study. I was going to follow along the notes from the very first Chillin’. I reviewed with them our goals. And they still fit. I reviewed with them our ground rules… and it all still works just the same. We did the same ice breaker. We read Mark 1 and then had a music interlude. We had a current discussion that still work. Then we did an inductive Bible study of the powerful and fast-paced way that John Mark chooses to reveal Jesus in his opening chapter. Mark is the Indian Jones of the Gospels. It’s an adventure movie from the opening scenes.

 

It’s so much fun to reconnect with where the ministry was. We have introduced some new things since we started. Now we bless the food before we begin. Back then, prayer wasn’t part of the street culture. However, it is just normal now. They want to bless the food and pray for it to heal their bodies, minds and hearts. It’s so awesome how the street youth have taken prayer into their culture as their own now. 

 

Another change is that we review the upcoming weekly calendar after the ice breaker. We didn’t do that three years ago! Ha ha! There would have been nothing on it but Bible Study. We’ve grown from one event to 6 events per week plus usually one on weekends. What support we have from donors, volunteers, and helpers! With many, nothing is possible. For God, nothing is impossible!

 

Another change is the integration of video into our Bible study. We always watch a word-for-word narration and illustration of the chapter we are studying. And we typically add a few videos from YouTube for humor. And we add worship videos as an interlude and also to play during our ending time. Often we play Bible trivia videos during our ending time, too.

 

So much has changed in three years, and yet it is a true blessing to go back and step alongside our footprints from three years ago. How many youth we have been privileged to know, love and serve during that time. We’ve lost some to death, we’ve lost track of much more, but we also keep in touch with hundreds each year. They continue to inspire us with their strength, courage, talent and ability to hang on when the going is tough. Here’s to many more years of recycling and reusing! 

 

 

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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Become a fan on Facebook!
Mobile? No problem: m.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole

Follow SYM: Facebook LinkedIn Blog RSS Twitter Plaxo Etsy Etsy Blogger Google Buzz Tungle.me YouTube Google Plus