Chapter One (The United Front)
It is 4:30 am at the ARCH as the locally-challenged begin to wake up for the Tuesday morning that all look forward to. And, as the normal routine within the shelter begins, the taste of the upcoming breakfast meal is “wetting their mouths.” All look forward to a meal that restores their self-respect and dignity as most need it to remain hopeful in a place where it is all, but dwindled. They put all the sleeping mats in it's proper place, and begin the comb their hair.
“Are you ready?” One resident asks Jaime. “I'm hungry.”
“Of course, I am. I have to maintain my lovely figure.” He chuckles. “You maybe handsome, but I'm hot!”
“Whatever! I take it that your head is up in the clouds again?” The friend laughs. “You need to come down to earth.”
“If I come down to earth, then all of the women will circle around me. At least, I'm protected from them up there!” Jaime jokes. “All women find me adorable!”
“I can't compete with you!” His friend speaks in a soft tone. “Are you ready?”
“Yes. Let's go.” Jaime states.
They walk out the ARCH with their backpacks on the shoulders with a little walk towards First United Methodist Church's “Feed My People” morning breakfast that is usually two mornings out-of-the-week. All look forward to it with everyone leaving space in their growling stomachs the night before. But, it's quite a walk from the ARCH to the church located 10 blocks away.
Yet, the morning walk is quickly dismissed when the locally-challenged human beings are anticipating the morning meal. The morning streets are quiet with no traffic through them. It does matter if it's rain, sleet, snow, and/or sunshine as most will make the walk.
“Are you getting tired yet?” Jamie's friend asks. “Do you need me to carry your backpack?”
“Whatever! I maybe Fluffy, but I will run circles around you!” He laughs out loud in a confident response.”Look, it's the Capital.”
And, they walk past the Capital of Austin where hope is around the corner for the legislation works for the people as the locally-challenged, as well as Austin and Texas citizens hope that laws will be passed for the benefit of the people. It's always not the case. But, there remains hope that the legislation will “hear the calling of the state's residents.”
Yet, walking through the lawn of the State Capital is a welcomed feeling of self-respect and dignity as DPS allows it when walking towards the morning meal. It's hopeful feeling for all who loves to walk through it because of the potential discrimination from some citizens of Austin.
They turn the corner from the State Capital and reach the morning reverence chatting and joking all the way from the locally-challenged shelter. It's a little walk. But, it's worth it.
It's now 5:15 am. And, the usual citizens are already out the church waiting for the doors to open.
Some are still sleeping in their sleeping bags as the church allows overnight sleeping on their grounds out of love and decency towards the locally-challenged human beings. But, some can ignore their rules and act in a questionable manner towards the other businesses around the area. Yet, the locally-challenged try to maintain order with their community as sometimes it fails.
But, the usual circles of friends are already there waiting when Jaime and his friend arrive to the weekly morning reverence. Each one of the circles of friends are usually chatting and smoking cigarettes. It's they typical day of relieving each other of the stress that comes with living in a situation where nearly all must raise themselves up.
A social leader is there talking to his faithful flock of friends maintaining order within the community.
Black is a 6 foot 1 inch tall African-American who could have been a high-school football and basketball player, and who is gifted in the languages of the streets and education. But, the death of his parents have left in an unfortunate predicament. He struggles with the lost of them. But, he is well-loved by most of the locally-challenged residents of Austin. He is a quiet leader and works behind-the-scenes to maintain order.
But, all who are there are anticipating a lot more than a good meal.
It's not a typical feeling to be loved and saved so early in the morning. It only provides hope in the beginning of the day with the hope for “a better day” coming to all. Some will fall, but nearly all raise themselves up. The Untied Church provides the saving grace and hope that is sorely-needed to the souls of the streets. The United Church provides the necessary hope to all who welcome their love, faith and hope.
And, this morning there will be a united front of salvation as all will be touched.
The doors open at 5:45 am with a make-shift straight line already waiting at the doors. It opens. And, the passing of the ticket of colors is handed to each of them. The church volunteers pass out the color-coded tickets to indicate what colors of the ticket might be first called that morning. There are about 5 different colors that are passed out. But, it all doesn't matter in reality as all will be fed. It makes no difference as the United Church has plenty of food to feed all.
The locally-challenged congregation pours into the church lobby and walks up the stairs to the cafeteria where the saving grace and hope begins. They enter the doors of the cafeteria passing Officer Ashley Darling from the Austin Police Department who is standing at the cafeteria entrance. She is there to maintain order and protection from an outbursts from any of the locally-challenged residents.
Officer Ashley Darling is a 5 foot 7 inch tall Anglo-American officer who is quiet and observant to all of her surroundings and perceptions of the locally-challenged residents. But, she has a tolerance to her quiet demeanor that is welcomed by the church and locally-challenged residents. She is a strong-willed and tough officer who will make her presence known if any unruly behaviors happens within the breakfast.
The numerous, round tables throughout the cafeteria sits about seven people with a row of chairs on both sides of the sides of the cafeteria that are used for the potential overflow of locally-challenged residents who have no place to sit as the tables are usually filled within minutes. And, some residents have to stand up if everything is filled to capacity.
There is row of chairs near the cafeteria stage where free haircuts are provided by some church volunteers throughout the revered breakfast. The piano is playing in the background as the angelic monotones fills the cafeteria calming some of the human beings nerves because the angelic music cures the stress of the streets for a brief time. It is a welcomed relief to most of human beings as it seems that the savior and creator has forgotten them in a place where hope and faith is questioned constantly.
“It's almost time to eat Fluffy. Are you ready?” Jaime friends softly asks. “I wonder what color they will call next?”
“I'm ready as Freddy.” Jaime responds.
“Who's Freddy?” His friend inquisitively mentions.
“Dude forget it!” Jamie chuckles out loud. “If you don't know Freddy then never mind!”
“Of course, I know Freddy. He is that dude that gnaws at our bellies!” His friend laughs. “Lol.”
“Ha-ha. But, he loves you more as your nothing but skin-and-bones!” Jaime laughs.
The morning conversations filled the church cafeteria as most are joking and passing the time until the moment on the clock strikes. It is a welcomed feeling the souls of everyone. Volunteers and locally-challenged residents alike. It's that the American Soul lives in all us. And, the mysterious forces of the savior and creator only beckons the call of this great nation's soul in everyone.
But, this is special morning as all will be touched in someway or another, although, the creator tests the souls of each one of us throughout the days of the unknown. Yet, this day, the heart of everyone will be saved as salvation comes to the door when knocked.
And, the morning is filled with the usual behaviors of getting coffee before the breakfast starts where all can grab an extra cup of it regardless of who they are or reputation they may have.
“Would you like some coffee? And, how much would you like?” A volunteer asks. “There is sugar and cream on the table.”
“I want two cups of it is possible.” One residents ask innocently. “And, can you fill my own personal cup so I can have some coffee after the breakfast?”
“Sure, I will be glad to fill your cup.” The volunteer responds. “I'm happy to serve you this morning.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it. It's hard to find caring people as this church has them.” The giddy resident responds.
But, the coffee line is long every morning as there is some people are still in line when the clocks strikes 6 am. But, no one likes to leave their place in line as the coffee is smooth and richly-blended.
The morning reverence is ready to provide the usual feeling of happiness and relief so early in the morning. Nearly all welcome this great feeling of dignity and love provided by one of the caring and loving home of the savior and creator.
But, the clock is about to strike to begin the breakfast. It is sign of jubilee to nearly all. And, this morning the hope of the American Soul will strike it's finest hour.
And, the day's adversity begins.