We have been staying at the 1000 Trails RV Park In Palm Springs for about a week now. The park itself is a great location, and and quite close to Hosanna City Church where we had a meeting with the Church Board this week. We are super excited that they have agreed to be an Umbrella Church for us and support our Missionary and Outreach programs as they are able. We just love this Church and are thrilled to have them behind us! Pastor Joshua, and the rest of the team are a real hands on Ministry. They walk the talk, do not judge people, and have a very serious compassion for spreading God’s love and being the hands of willing servants. There is nothing pretentious about this Church. We have met a lot of people in this congregation, and they are sincere in their focus on serving others. It is very refreshing to be around so many people who rely daily on faith, with the dedication and joy we have witnessed.
While we were here, we decided to bag up some lunches and see if we could find some people living on the streets that could use a good meal, water and dog food. Our first destination was into Palm Springs. I was shocked to see how many people are living in complete destitution. We started out early in the afternoon, but given the heat, we were not able to find many of them because they tend to stay hidden in areas where there is shade. However, we did manage to find several that we sleeping in groups in Parks and abandoned lots. They were pretty excited and shocked when we pulled up and offered them water and something to eat. We also managed to find several who had dogs, so Doug passed out some small bags of food for their canine companions.
Later that night, we found ourselves in Indio, and a large tent city by the rescue mission. We pulled into the compound, and went to each camp to see if there were people who needed anything. Much to our surprise, in part because it was getting dark, we did not realize how many camps were set up in that particular area. So we passed out what we had, and before we left we told everyone that we would honk the horn and if anyone wanted prayer before we left they could come to the jeep and we would pray for them. We were quite surprised at how many came forward, and much to our delight, many asked if we had Bibles to pass out. Thankfully we had a few dozen that were in English and Spanish, and they were very happy to get their hands on one. Before we left, we realized that we would have to return the next day, because there were so many people there and we had run out of meals and water to pass out.
The following day after a run to Walmart, we made up over 100 meals and set out to the Indio Tent City around dusk. There were so many people there, and it was quite sad to see how many of them were walking ghosts, hooked on Meth and other drugs. We met a lot of people who obviously suffered with severe mental illnesses as well. Normally I would hesitate to walk around a tent city of that size late and night, and in the area this one was located in. However, our interactions with people the night before and helped us a lot in regards to people who would normally be unsure of us. By the time we left, I think most everyone there had received something to eat, and we we had emptied the jeep of almost a dozen flats of water. No mater how much you try to help, it just never seems like enough. There is and I believe there will never be a perfect solution to poverty, but it still makes me sad that all we can offer is some temporary relief.
The Homeless Crisis is everywhere! We have seen it in every city we have driven through, and I find it appalling that so little aid is being given to help those who really do want to be off of the streets and be self-sufficient. California, is actually the worst place I have seen for tent cities and people suffering from drug addictions. Perhaps the worst place I have seen with so much human suffering and loss of hope would have been in L.A. I am not sure what the solution is, but I do hope that California can get it together and put in resources and services in place that will provide more than temporary band-aides. For that matter, the entire USA and Canada had better get their act together and start focusing on those who truly need help. I am sick of seeing people wasting away and dying because they are not getting the help they need. I am not a fool by any means, and as a social worker for almost two decades, I am well aware that there are people who just do not want help. They have chosen a life of drugs and the consequences of their choices are of their own doing. However, many who have drug addictions and mental health issues could and would choose a different way of life if the intervention and resources were available for them to help long term.
Anyhow, that is my rant for today. Just breaks my heart.
Cheers for now,
Doug, Sherry, Chicago and Journey