The morning came too fast. We were up watching the Olympics last night, taking in the diversity of this great land they call Canada through the Opening Ceremonies. It went late for us, and somehow, I imagined myself sleeping in on Saturday.
Saturday, however, was upon us. Will was stirring a huge vat of oatmeal, trying to get our older four children out of bed, eating and out the door. The three middles had music, like they do on almost every Saturday. The oldest would drive them and head over to Robotics.
I had to get my head together. We were scheduled for the "Gospel Booth" at 9:00, and it was already after 8:00. Will woke up the sleepy "who" child, sleeping on the floor, hair and body sprawled out like a spilled box of spaghetti. How do I gather this up? I can hardly get myself going. Thankfully, Will stepped in with the food-enticement. The problem is neither she nor I find food appealing in the "wee" hours of the morning like 8:15, for example.
Nevertheless, we pulled it together and got the booth and set up. The Alpine Flea Market is a unique place. Without the smells, the sounds, and rough-raggedness, it just wouldn't be same "armpit" that I remember it to be. And yet, there's something lovable about it also. I would have to work pretty hard to get in with the motorcycle gang/ homeless, hung over crowd that frequents this place, but now, all we have to do is pay a little money and set up a booth. How fun is that?
So, we do it. At first, you have to train your limbs to go through the motions. Now, set up this table. Now the chairs. Put out the Gospel literature on the tables. Set up some crafts. Get out the Bible, and sit. and wait. and pray.
I never have to worry about chasing people into the aisles. They come. God draws them in. We just sit there and smile. I pray a simple prayer.
Dear God, Is there anyone here who doesn't know you who is ready to know you. Bring them to us. Let us love them in your way. Don't let us waste time with who just want to distract us. You bring them in, and we are willing. Amen
And they come. Today, a young gal came. I won't give the details or her real name, but only 18 and severely violated. A mess. Just ripe for Jesus, and yet almost too confused to take him in.
She sat and did crafts with me. We talked a little. We made little cards with heart stickers. Will had to leave to get our kids, but I couldn't leave her. I'll call her "Melissa" but that is not her real name. The next couple came in to work, and then the next. I still couldn't leave her. I forgot to ask Will for money, and I didn't have my purse. It was beyond lunch time. Jason gave me the $20.00 bill that he had in his wallet.
I asked Melissa if she wanted to go with me to Taco Johns, right across the way. We sat in the restaurant and talked. We bought a ton of food. There was extras for her to give to her grandma. I'm counting transfats, and the number has reached oblivion. And I wonder what she must think of me--being worried about the food. If her life could be "so perfect" as to only be concerned about food! I listened to her, and my heart broke.
We returned to the booth and grabbed a few of Jason's kids to walk around with. We bought a few cheap little toys for the kids. I bought Melissa a pink unicorn. Since her incident, she has become a child again. I watched Melissa become a five year old and dive into the toy barrel with the little girls. My heart broke.
Melissa took me around to other booths. She grew up here. This armpit of a place is her home. The regulars give the regulars a better deal on their "merchandise". Could it possibly be cheaper than it already is? A lady told me her story of her husband leaving her after 20 years, and just now receiving the child support check. Selling her wares in this market is her only income. I spent $3. 00 there. My heart broke.
I had one dollar left. I wanted to give it to Dennis. Dennis had the booth kitty-corner from us, and he gave us a ton of supplies for kids to make crafts. He was so generous that I just wanted to buy some things from him, just to be friendly. Of course, he managed to "out give" me in his generosity and gave me far more than $1.00 worth of stuff. I could hardly imagine having so little and yet being so generous. These people (typically) have no one and nothing, but they have each other. each other.. sounds almost like a church.
It's a church without Jesus. And many of them like it that way, so we don't bother them.
But for those who want him, we are there, with our breaking hearts.