She had been homeless for years, camping in the woods just outside of town. (Have you ever gone camping in January? I don't know how she did it!) She used to come to Outreach for food and blankets. We gave her what we could, and secretly prayed for her throughout the weeks and months.
Right from the beginning, God gave me an adoration for her. Each time she came in, it would be a surprise. I never knew which version of her I would meet. Would she smile and chat, or would she grunt and avoid eye contact? It took months for her to risk even telling me her name. Giving to her was not rewarded with gushing gratitude or even acknowledgment. It made no sense that my heart swelled with adoration for her. None at all. That's how I know it was God giving me his love for her. I was so filled with joy when I would see her, it would nearly bring me to tears. God really loves her a lot.
Then, as summer ended, her circumstances became even more difficult. She would not be able to live in the bush any more. Something had to change. She called Irene, who had been encouraging her from day one to leave homelessness behind, and said those four life changing words.
"Okay Irene, I'm ready."
She was immediately helped into a job and home. I hadn't seen her since.... until last week.
Volunteers bunched around a table tossing ideas around when she called. She needed work boots.
"Absolutely!" Irene spoke into the phone, "Come on over - we're here"
Minutes later, when she came in, that familiar joy welled up again. She showed Irene her tattered work boots, and searched for replacements. There were none, so she and Irene arranged to buy her brand new boots. And then she was gone.
The funny thing about helping people at Outreach is that you're glad to not see them anymore.
New life, new boots. Keep walking girl. You're doing great.