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(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Story is told by 'Laverne')

Situation:

Laverne meets a gal at CARTS on Sunday who has just been housed & has nothing but an air mattress & a TV. Laverne agrees to meet her at View Towers on Thursday morning at 10:00 with whatever she can scrounge by then.

Shirley hears about this & says "You can't go to View Towers by yourself. I think I should go with you!" We agree to meet to Home Sense on Cloverdale & drive down together (what a great friend!!)

Unexpected Gift

Shirley had just taken a load to the Thrift Store last week & is feeling badly that she has nothing to bring. But lo & behold, driving to meet Laverne she spots a FREE sofa by the side of the road. (Today she is driving Joe's truck because the car is in for service....she never has Joe's truck!) So she says"Thank you Lord. I now have something to bring!!" & proceeds to load this huge sucker by herself. No angels appeared for this scene!



Meeting Laverne

Shirley pulls into the parking lot on Cloverdale & parks right in front of Laverne's vehicle.! It took a minute to notice she had "a load"!!! We moved everything from Laverne's vehicle into the truck & off we went. There was a parking spot almost at the front door of View Towers (THANK YOU!). It took 3 of us to get it off the truck (couch roped in with a long extension cord across the back!!). Actually, I take back the "no angels appeared for scene 1"..... I have no idea how Shirley loaded that by herself!!  Anyway, we're now minus one couch foot, but it's off the truck & on the road. A passerby noted that we should ask for a dollie, so off Shirley & Jane go to the office & I get the couch moved onto the sidewalk & stand guard. 3 gentlemen (???) who had been standing by the entrance smoking suddenly disappeared....never to reappear during this drama!!! (obviously NOT angels!)

Moving the honking huge couch

We tried to get the couch onto the dollie but this was NOT working!  POOF....appears angel # 1  (a white-haired man!) who tried to help us get it on, but before we knew it he was on his back on the sidewalk....we tried to encourage him to quit, but he was not wanting to give up so easily, and we all decided to just carry the dang thing... & the 4 of us staggered it to the front doors. I might add that Griffin's Plumbing truck was parked right at the front door (not on the road.... at the very entrance!) & water was flowing out of a pipe in the wall & covered the whole area we staggered through! We plopped it down & angel # 1 vanished!

But the door is TOO small

Then we look at the situation & see that the door is way too small for this honking huge couch. (more drama with the office here that I won't get into, but the end result is we have to get it through this single door or not at all !) Enter angel # 2. A cocky young man! We had already figured out that we would have to stand it on end if we had any chance at all, which we did with much grunting & groaning! Next thing we knew he had grabbed it, shoving & zigzagging, & suddenly it popped through the door with only minor damage! All this with other people who were moving into/out of the building lined up to use the door!!!! WOW.....except suddenly we had the realization that we still had the elevator, which had no bigger opening!  Angel # 2 vanishes!!!

"If the couch is dragged on this dirty floor I'm not sitting on it"

(because of course the couch was upside down by now). The recipient was emphatic that if the couch was dragged on the filthy floor she couldn't use it.  We didn't actually discuss it, but somehow that possibility could not be an option, & we just carried on!!!

The small elevator door looked like the end of our struggle. But we couldn't even IMAGINE getting the couch back out & back onto the truck! Now it was just Laverne & Shirley...with just a comment from a passer-by that things didn't look good!! Angel # 3 was not visible to the naked eye, but by some miracle Laverne & Shirley alone sliced this rig into the elevator! Such exhilaration!!! Up 16 floors........we repeated the groaning effort & it popped out.

The hallway would easily fit an ironing board...

but how do people move furniture into this place????!!! By this time we were exhausted, so with the two of us on one end we just pushed the couch, a couple feet at a time, down the long hall.

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Angel grease

The apartment door was even smaller yet. It truly seemed the end of the line, but leaving the couch in the hallway was not an option as it was as wide as the whole hall!! With some resignation, we decided to at least give it a try. One of us pushing, one pulling & one pushing the cushion part as hard as possible....we moved an inch into the doorway & got stuck.  By now Shirley is praying out loud, "God, this was YOUR idea, so You have got to help us get this in!!!!" And we moved another inch.....and so on....and so on!!! You couldn't have fit a piece of paper between the couch & the wall. One last push & it popped into the room! It was UNBELIEVABLE!!!!  All we could do was laugh at the improbability of having moved this thing. We got it in with only one ridge sort of shredded, but it all looked pretty good & Jane seemed very thrilled (no more talk about not sitting on it!!). We forgot to check the condition of the walls!!!!!

The rest of the stuff seemed quite insignificant after this effort &, except for a crowded elevator ride with stuff & people, that made many stops on the way up, (the claustrophobia angel got Shirley to the 16th floor!) the rest of the move was less eventful !!!

 
 
"If we want to develop meaningful connection with people we must be willing to go where they are.  This is something deeper than the practicality of good marketing.  While in our building during our programs we have authority and power to set the terms of engagement- in other words, the ‘rules’. It would not be honest to pretend otherwise.  Whether we acknowledge it or not we have power in that situation and that power shapes our relationship with the people who come. It is vital that we are willing to reciprocate- to make regular contact with our street community on their ‘turf’ or home, in the places where they have the power, authority and credibility.  We become the ‘guests’ in their care and acknowledge their elevated status in that context. Like the Jesus we seek to follow, we must be willing to recognize that whatever power we have been given is not ours to cling to. We must seek to find ways to give that power away."

"One way we seek to consciously practice this is to make regular time to be on the street, in the neighbourhood, connecting with our friends and deepening our relationships with them."

The above is from the folks at Parkdale Neighborhood Church in Toronto's west end. The needs of the neighbourhood were daunting; increasing poverty, substance abuse, crime, the proximity of the then “Queen Street Mental Health Centre” (now CAMH) and issues related to mental health, political abandonment and social neglect, the waves of refugees and immigrants who either felt trapped or viewed the neighbourhood as a temporary stop before moving on to a better community. It's easy in a neighborhood like this to assume a role of " power "...we have all the answers, come to us and let us " fix" Put to move into the neighborhood and through anything that looks like power away, to be willing to listen, to learn...to become a neighbor in the context of the neighborhood...is humbly profound. It's in this profound mysterious sacrifice where life is found...we really discover the abundant life Jesus spoke, and lived out.You can't learn this in a forty-five minute sermon...it is found by following Jesus into these broken spaces that are all around us. Every week, every Sunday with CARTS...and through out the week when I bump into our neighbors in the inner city I'm reminded of this wisdom.