So this is a little overdue, but as most of you may know, last weekend we did our 24-hour homeless project! We were dropped off in the streets of Newcastle for 24 hours with nothing about the clothes on our backs and shoe on our feet and a team backpack that had bibles, pens, and journals in it. Our leader had a phone for emergency, which is how we got to take so many pictures! :)
We walked through the Bike fest and marveled at all the different types of motorcycles, then found a great patch of grass to lay in. We layed there for a while and laughed together and watched people walk by, and tried to think of awesome things to do over the next 24 hours. After a while of laying, we decided to walk towards the shore, where there were some restaurants and a really high tower we could climb to the top of. It took a LOT of steps to get to the top, and we were out of breath when we finally made it, but it was such a cool view! The ocean in front of us and the city behind us. Here is me at the top.
Again, we sat around for awhile and talked about what we should do, and decided to eplore the city a bit more. We went to Hunter Street, which was new to me, and we spotted and old Lock-Up Museum, where they used to hold people right after they were arrested. It was FREE (homeless persons favorite word) and super cool to see. We got to go inside the cells and see what it was like to be in prison in the early 1900s! A lot of people that were help there were women, who were arrested for things like 'Indecent Language' or 'Stealing a horse' We thought that was pretty funny. There was also an art gallery. I think we loved it so much because it as fun and free!
We started walking and decided we were ready for lunch. And we had no money. So while we were walking, we went in and out of a lot of restaurants, coming out with nothing. We asked God to provide for us and we knew He would! Eventually we spotted a small local grocery store and decided to go in and ask if they had an old or expired food they were wanting to get rid of. To our delight, we came out with two hass avacados!
Jessica and Manuela with our first food of the day!
We weren't sure what to do with them yet, so we kept walking! While walking we came across a jug of raspberry cordial. It had been used just a tiny bit, but Rouyal deemed it okay and we took it! Another free thing! We were thanking God.
While walking we found some honeysickle and didn't miss out on the opportunity for more free food!
We were headed towards Fort Scratchley, which was an Australian Military base during World War II. We got some Australian history lessons from Rouyal, who is an Aussie! It was really pretty up there but also very windy! After we were done looking around, we rolled down a giant hill :) I can't think of many things that are more exhilarating than that!
We started to get really yhungry, so we began to walk again in search of more food. (We did a LOT of walking, in case you can't tell!) Along the way, we saw a bus pull up to a bus stop and realized it was a free bus! So we hopped on, not knowing where it would take us. We were SO happy we found another free thing to do!
We got off on Beaumont street, a place we were familiar with because of Guzman y Gomez, an amazing burrito place! We were reallllly hoping to find some free food there, but to our dismay, they told us to come back at 11pm for some free cornchips :( So we went in and out of a bunch of other restaurants, and always came up disappointed, or getting told to come back at closing time. We were waiting at the the free bus stop to catch the next bus, when Rouyal and Manuela decided to go into a small convenience store to ask for free food. They ended up being in there for a long time, talking to the owner, and they came out with a bag full of food and drinks! Apparently they told him what we were doing and he was really excited! He gaave Rouyal his business card and wanted to begin supporting YWAM Newcastle. He is also Muslim, and we told him we are a Christian organization, but he didn't care! It was so neat that God placed this divine appointment before us and gave us the opportunity to talk to this man, who also happened to give us about 10 meat pies and sausage rolls, 2 iced coffees, 1 strawberry milk, and 1 vanilla malt milk. Also we thought it was pretty sweet that the store was called Lucky 7! 7 is God's number... He sure provided for us :) We also happened to have a vego on our team, Jessica, so it was so cool how we picked up the avocados earlier because she was able to eat that instead of the meat pies! Another awesome thing God did here... a homeless man came up to us and asked if we had any spare change for him. We had no money, but we gladly gave him milk and meat pies! It was so cool that God gave us so much and we were able to bless another homeless person with what he gave us!
We were so excited about how God provided and by then our bellies were full! It was time for a nap. It was kinda hot out, and all the seats we saw were benches, so we decided to hop back on the free bus and take advantage of the comfy seats and AC :) We rode the free bus loop at least 3 times. We napped, we talked, and we took turns reading passages out loud from the Bible. It was awesome. One of the times at the bus stop, we were able to share more food with another homeless guy, which was awesome. We could tell he was really blessed by that!
Around 6, we got off the bus and began walking towards Brumby's, the bakery where our base gets free bread from to fill our bread bin. We decided to hijack whoever was doing bread run that night and get some free bread and pastries! We hid until we saw the people on bread bin drive up. It was Jess and Daniel Norris, a couple that is on staff. They went inside to grab all the bread, which took about 15 minutes. While they were inside we went and hid behind the van, waiting for them to come out with the bread. So they came out, and they knew what was coming. They had already prepared a small bag to give to us with a baguette, a few rolls, and chocolate muffins! I guess we weren't as sneaky as we thought!
On the walk to Brumby's, we acquired a shopping cart, which was pretty homeless of us. We started walking with our cart, and we saw some palms, so we broke off two and used them to decorate our cart (we had just watched the movie, The Soloist). We kept walking, and picked up a part of a fan. Matches. Someones homework. A golf ball. A boot. Lots of things to make us seem authentic. We didn't know what we would use them for, but we took them with us. Here are the photos of our cart and bread!
We were a little disappointed with the bread run turn out, since we walked so far and came out with a small bag, but we were still excited about how God provided, and we were also still hungry! We started back towards the other side of town, stopping in at every restaurant and cafe we saw, trying to get some more food! Eventually we ended up at McDonalds, thinking, 'why not?!' So we go in and tell them our story, and ask if they can give anything away, and we walk out with three large fries! Hallelujah for hot fries!
While at McDonalds, we spotted two other teams who wanted to meat up later for a potluck! We accepted and started off on our opposite ways and my team headed for Darby street to ask for more food opportunities we could take to the potluck! We went to another burrito place that told us to come back at closing time, 10:30, to get their leftovers. We were excited about that because burritos are deadly! We headed to the Foreshore, where the potluck was held and saw the other teams. We had lots of food between the 3 teams.. lots of bread, frozen french fries and steak, which we grilled, carrots, juice, cordial, bananas, butter, just so much! It was so fun to sit around and eat our 'feast' and talk about what we had all done so far.
After the feast our team took off and went back to our burrito place to get more food! On the way we spotted another team that hadn't eaten much that day, so we invited them to come with us to have the burritos. We walked all the way there, and we were very disappointed to see that when we got there at 10:30 they were closed :( So we said goodbye to that team and walked towards McDonalds again. It was raining and we needed somewhere dry and warm to sit. There was also a Domino's Pizza across the road we decided to try to see if we could get any free food there. They gave us a meat pizza and some delicious garlic bread! That you Lord. We decided to sit in McDonalds to rest and get dry and use the restroom. We sat at a table for about an hour telling riddles and playing little games like that, then at about midnight we started walking back towards our 'home.' We also looked for the team that hadn't eaten much, because we wanted to give them the pizza and garlic bread. We couldn't find them :(
We got to where our feast had been, which was a large covered pavilion that was well lit. We sat at a picnic table together and ate the pizza and garlic bread, then decided it was time to sleep. There were bathrooms there, but they were locked. Outside of the womens bathroom there was a bit of an L shaped wall that blocked off some of the wind, so we sat some card board that another team had given us and cozied up to stay warm and get some sleep, but it was FREEZING!
Without missing a beat, Rouyal stood up and grabbed the part of the fan out of our cart, along with the matches. He gathered up some sticks and the homework, and just like that, he built a fire! Yes, it may not be legal, but I'm not sure how we would've survived the night without it. It definitely made a huge difference.
I have to admit, at this point, I was over it. It was cold and I was honestly a little scared. Mostly scared of getting arrested and deported. I stayed awake because I couldn't sleep. I just felt like I needed to be alert in case anyone came. Rouyal and Manuela also didn't sleep. They kept the fire going, and I acted as a pillow for the other girls, which I didn't mind doing. At one point, Rouyal and Manuela left to find more sticks for the fire, and I was the only one awake. I grabbed my Bible and memorized the 23rd Psalm. It for real helped me calm down and I felt God's presence and protection. I know also have it memorized, which is cool.
It was definitely a rough 5 hours, from midnight to 5am. I slept from 3-4 am, when I knew Manuela and Rouyal were in a deep conversation and that it wasn't likely that either of them would fall asleep. That one hour did wonders for me!
Around 5 am we decided to move to the beach, because fires are allowed there and we didn't want to take the chance of seeing any people and getting in trouble! Also we wanted to see the sunrise. So the only logical way to move our fire was to pick it up, put it in the cart, and push the cart to the beach. It was seriously one of the funniest things I have ever seen.
It was so amazing how just one match (we only had 3 total) lasted for 6 hours! And the fire was even transported. This was just another example of how God watched out for us and had favor over us. He knows we needed that fire!
So there was no sunrise, but it was still a beautiful morning, and so cool to see the ocean and hear the waves, while sitting next to a crackling fire! Around 6, we put the fire out with sand and began walking to the train station. We used the restrooms and slept on the benches. I got about 20 more minutes of sleep, which was great! Around 7:15 we headed to a homeless breakfast up the street, and it was amazing! They had muesli with tons of fresh fruit, hot tea and coffee, and scrambled eggs, chili, and toast! It was such a blessing to have a hot breakfast. We saw a few of the other teams there too, and we got to chat with some homeless people.
After breakfast, we hopped on the free bus again, went around once for the fun of it, and then, it was 10 oclock! Our 24 hours were over. We prayed and thanked God for His provision and protection, and for the fun we had. I had never been so happy to get a ride in the base vans! As soon as we got home I took a nice shower and put on some comfy clothes :)
This was such a cool experience and I'm so glad I had the chance to do this! It turned out to be a lot of fun. I got to experience the city of Newcastle, eat free food, bless other people, and survive off of nothing. I'm sure homeless experiences are not always like this, but it was so cool to really trust God to provide and see where He leads. We had so many adventures and I will always remember how much fun I had in those 24 hours, but also what a challenge it was!
Another post is coming VERY soon :)