Monday, March 31, 2014

From Urban Camper to Heavenly Host

On Friday I received the kinda news you never want to hear.

My friend David had passed away in the night.

I met David on a retreat in February of 2013. 

This was a retreat for the homeless. There were ten men that went on the retreat.

The idea behind the retreat was to build up some trust and have some fun.

When was the last time a person on the streets had fun?

On the retreat we did some fun team building exercises.

David would jump right in and take control. He was a born leader.

He would lead discussions about the homeless services in Richmond.

The day the retreat ended, David approached me about coming back to the camp and helping do some work prepping the camp for the summer.

It was an awesome idea!

Unfortunately some in the community around the camp heard about a "homeless retreat" and didn't want THEM around. 

Two weeks after the retreat David texted me and said " I am cold, wet and tired. I am done!"

David had hit "bottom" and wanted to do what it was going to take to get out of being homeless.

I found him a place to live and he started to do odd jobs to earn some money.

It wasn't two weeks before his life turned upside down again!

He was taken to the emergency room.

There he was treated as if he wasn't even human.

He was released that morning at 4 am!

Not three days later he was back in ICU!

Two months of ICU and a step down unit and then the worst news anyone could receive.

"You have cancer and you have about two months to live."

The hospital was going to kick him back out onto the streets.

Because of the time in the hospital David had lost his place to live and it wasn't suited for his medical needs.

David then moved into my house.

It was at this point that my family and I got to know this man.

David was a man of extraordinary courage and strength.

He also had an incredible sense of humor under extreme circumstances.

David and I did not always see eye to eye on everything.

As a matter of fact he moved out of my house and in with a friend.

That might seem odd to most, but in truth it is real.

We all have differences with one another, but a true friendship finds a way to work through our differences.

David was a true friend!

Not too much time had passed and a friend of mine, Carol had done some research online and found David's family.

He had not seen his family in over 15 years!

A reunion was had with his family at Atlee Community Church.

David got to see his brother, sister, niece and nephews whom he had been estranged from for years.

Because so many years had passed some had assumed David had died.

The relationships had been restored and David moved in with his family.

The battle with cancer had its ups and downs.

Through the chemo treatments and radiation, David was stronger than most men I know.

He always expressed his love for God and how thankful he was for being able to reunite with his family. 

David was a fighter all along the way. He was willing to do whatever it takes.

In the final months he received a car which gave him the freedom to drive around town.

His favorite trips were to see some of his friends downtown.

He also enjoyed going on trips to a local lake and fishing.

He took an old outdoor chair and built rod holders onto it.

David loved the outdoors and in his younger years was a professional kayak-er.

As a matter of fact I came to learn that his kayak buddy was one of my good friends growing up when I was 16 yrs old.

Only God can make that connection.

If that wasn't enough David's brother's girl friend is a good friend of my sister who lives in the western part of Va.

So on Thursday March 27th I celebrated my 55th birthday and David celebrated his birth day in heaven!