PASSING OUT COPIES OF THE BOOK TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN IT:
It’s been a long time since I’ve made any entry in this blog, but I wanted to make an entry today, for two different reasons.
First, I wanted to tell you what it was like last Saturday Morning, when I took the first copies of the book over to the free breakfast at the Seventh Day Adventist Church. My plan was to give a copy of the book to each one of the homeless people who were interviewed in the book. Many of them had told me how badly they wanted to see their stories printed in a book.
So, at first, I was really looking forward to bringing copies of the book to the homeless people who were in the book. But when the day came to actually do it, I found myself experiencing a bit of dread. What if the homeless people didn’t like what I had written? What if all of the people that I’d written about in the book had moved on, and I couldn’t find any of my old friends? It had been several months since I’d been over to visit the free breakfast, because I’d been busy with editing the book, and working on other projects.
So, when I got out of my car in the church parking lot with a box full of the books, I was so nervous that I had to take a deep breath before walking across the lot to go inside.
But as I walked across the lot, to my surprise and delight, I saw one of my old homeless friends coming toward the entrance from the opposite direction.
It was Cornelius. He is one of the kindest and friendliest homeless men I met. He’s a disabled veteran who got into trouble with the law, and is therefore trapped here in Auburn by the terms of his parole.
He is also a pretty good poet. I included one of his poems in the book. I couldn’t wait to show him his poem in print.
I walked inside the big dining area with Cornelius, and immediately I felt welcome.
After shaking hands with a few of my old homeless friends, and telling them that the book had finally arrived, I sat down with Cornelius, and showed him his poem in the book.
Cornelius was so touched that he almost cried.
"This means that all of the time that I’ve spent here in Auburn has not been just wasted time," Cornelius says. "I’m going to keep this in a special place. And when I show it to the members of my family, they will know that all of the time that I’ve had to spend here in the Auburn area has not been wasted."
Cornelius also tells me that he is amazed that he happens to be at the free breakfast on the day that I show up with the book, because he hasn’t visited the free breakfast for about a year.
Cornelius catches me up with some of the local homeless news. He tells me that Rick Deshon is back in jail, and that there is a new criminal charge against him.
The well-known local homeless man whose street name was "Doc" (his story was not included in the book, at his request) died of cirrhosis of the liver.
He says that Storm and Richard are still around, but they moved to the other side of town.
The next person I see is Monda. I have a special, soft spot in my heart for her. It’s wonderful to get to see her again, and to know that she is all right.
The last time that I saw her, she had a shaved head. But now, she has let her hair grow out. Longer hair makes her look softer, and more feminine. I’m glad to see her looking that way. She used to look so tough all the time.
When I give her a copy of the book, she cries. She sees her photo on the front cover. When she hugs me, she holds onto me for a long time.
While holding Monda in my arms, something in my heart just melts. All of the work that I put in on this book had been worth it. All work has been paid in full in that moment.
During the next hour, I find about a dozen of the homeless people who are in the book. They are so excited to get a copy of the book, and to see their own stories.
Their happiness put more joy in my heart than I can describe.
I see Gary, the one-armed Alligator Man, and give him a copy of the book. It surprises me to see how deeply he is moved by seeing his story in the book.
He also tells me one story that I didn’t know.
He says that on the day that I did his interview, he had been trying to figure out some way to hitchhike up to Sugar Bowl, because they were having a job fair that day. The $20 that I gave him for his interview fee helped him to make it up to Sugar Bowl. He got a job and a place to stay for the ski season. He enjoyed working there so much that he is re-applying for a job there again this season.
Later, I see Gerine (also known as Michael). She is the young lady who appears in the book in three different places: "Michael’s Promise," "God Things, Part One," and "God Things, Part Two." This young lady really touched my heart.
I still hold on to the hope that someday, Gerine will turn her life around... that she will enroll in Sierra College, and pursue the dream that she told me about in her interview.
But sadly, when I see her this time, she looks to be in worse physical condition than the last time that I saw her.
Still, God has a way of reminding us that He is always around, and that through Him, all things are possible.
When the free breakfast was over, I was driving out of the church parking lot. I looked up the hill above the parking lot. There was Gerine, sitting on a large rock. The book was open on her lap. She was reading it.
Maybe, if she read "Michael’s Promise." Maybe, if she read "God Things, Parts One and Two," she would finally get it about her own importance. Maybe God would use the book to change her life.
At the very least, those stories would touch her heart.
Thank You, God. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.
I am so grateful for being a part of writing this book. I am so grateful that You chose to use me in this way. I am so grateful that You showed me bits of Your face, and bits of Your heart, in the faces and the hearts of these homeless people.
A NOTE ABOUT THE BOOK:
Secondly, I wanted to let you know that the hard-print version of the book has finally arrived. It’s for sale through my office for $29.95, and all of the profits from the sales will go to four of the best local charities that help the homeless. Unless, of course, the book makes a lot of money, in which case the lion’s share of the money will be used to build a homeless shelter. If you’d like to purchase a copy, call me at 530-889-2777. Or, if you live in the Auburn area, just drop by my office at 161 Palm Avenue, Suite 1, Auburn, California.
Eventually, the hard-print version of the book will also be available through Amazon.com. But first, I want to sell as many copies of the book as possible through direct sales. That way, the book sales raise a lot more money for the charities (because Amazon takes such a huge cut of the sale price), and also, if the book sells a lot of copies locally, it might promote more support for the construction of a local homeless shelter.