Last Saturday morning, it was around 8:45 AM when we breezed into the Open Door Mission. It had snowed about 4 inches during the night, and began to fall once again as we pulled up. A group of 8 men stood outside in the cold. We could hear curse words and see cigarettes hanging from their mouths.
As we walked inside, the first thing I noticed was the smell. Probably body odor mixed with smoke, alcohol, and urine. There were about 15 men in the foyer area and 50 or so in a large room off to our right.
We waited in the dining room for our tour guide to arrive. When she did, she showed us the whole facility, telling us how one portion houses like 150 men, and another is for those who have a job and are on the verge of living on their own again. Women and children are in another area.
Meal times are separated (except for whole families) because some of the residents there have mental disabilities (story is coming on that one!) and don't act appropriately.
They have a separate warehouse that keeps all their clothing and furniture donations. We helped sort clothes (summer from winter) and take some off the racks.
At lunchtime, Tom (our coordinator) challenged us to spread out and meet some folks. The women were dining at this time, so I joined Troy who had sat down to eat with two women, one of which was deep in conversation with him.
After a moment, though, I realized something wasn't quite right. Here is a sampling of her words:
"The enemy gave me this sweater...they had to...and the enemy also gave me this ring, which has eight stones. Eight is my number, see, because eight is oxygen on the table of elements, and I am oxygen. I am also carbon monoxide. I am also carbon DIOXIDE!
On and on she went, spinning stories faster than Stephen King. Troy questioned her about the enemy, hoping to get a good answer, but all he got was "Man versus man."
After a bit, I pushed my chair back from the table and stood up. Troy shot me a look that said, "You rat fink! How could you leave me here alone with her?!" But my intentions were good. I went to get the teens and invited them to come and meet this woman.
As they sauntered over, they pulled up chairs thinking this would be a conversation with just another person off the street.
It didn't take long before they saw what was happening.
"Yeah, so I'm married. It's an arranged marriage to Jon Bon Jovi..." (Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the teens' jaws drop.)
"...who's playing at the Qwest Center, which I own. Oh, and by the way, Rosenblatt Stadium is staying in Omaha...I'll make sure of it!"
Probably the best line of the day was, "Jesus Christ came to bring division, but I came to bring love and peace, because I am...Frosty the Snowman!!!"
I laugh at that, and yet I cry at the same time. This woman's mind is so messed up because of drugs. She doesn't know what is real any more. I don't even think she can grasp concepts like sin and salavation, grace and mercy. She probably can't hold on to any friends, because who would want to listen to such tales all the time?
It's people like her that make me wonder about spiritual warfare. Does Satan have a grip on this woman? (Who claimed to be God, by the way.) Or is it just the drugs that have fried her brain?
So all we could do is listen and smile, and pray that God would be merciful to her...maybe even restore some sanity to her life.
Once she left, I just looked at the teens and burst out laughing. But my heart was breaking inside. Now, my curiosity was piqued. I really wanted to meet other people and hear other stories. But lunch was over and it was time for our next service opportunity. We said our goodbyes and dragged our feet towards the door. Our next mission effort was in South Omaha, in a part of the city known as "Little Mexico..."