Saturday, January 19, 2008

Waking up to gunshots...

I was woken up Tuesday morning by men screaming outside my house. I got out of bed to see what was going on but because the guys were too far down the street I couldn't see anything so I returned to my bed. Just as I got settled in and had almost fallen back asleep (as it was just about 5am and didn't have to be up for another 3 hours), I heard our work supervisor, Karen, yelling outside. She's one of those people that has to have her hand in every matter than occurs within a mile radius of SFI, so naturally she was outside.

I was fairly confident that by her going outside, things would get resolved quickly and the street would rest again. Not long after hearing Karen outside, I heard two gunshots. Two. I panicked, underneath my blankets in my bed. Now, I wasn't about to go outside to see what happened... you see, guns scare me more than anything else and I didn't think there was too much I could contribute to whatever situation was occurring outside so I just assumed stay in bed and, in my head, run through every possible scenario of what was going on.

Just over 3 hours later, I got to mass and Fred told me all that had happened. Apparently there were two very large dogs, one being a pitbull, the other a mastif, that had attacked the two men that were outside. Bob, one of our visitors for the past couple of weeks, went outside to try to help the men and was attacked himself and was sent to the emergency room to get rabies shots and make sure his bites weren't too severe. The men were on top of cars trying to get away from the dogs when the police showed up. The gunshots I heard were aimed at the bigger of the two dogs while the smaller dog ran back to its home on the next street over.

We don't know the whole story, but much of the Team is lead to believe that it was a drug-related ordeal, where perhaps the two men owed money to a dealer and the dealer sent the dogs to take care of business. Fortunately, Bob was able to divert the dogs from the two men long enough for the men to break away, ultimately saving their lives. Bob is okay; he has a few bite marks but is still in good spirits!

In addition to this craziness, Katie, our program director, came to do a site visit with us this week! She moved in Wednesday morning and conducted more one-on-ones with us. She spent time with each of us individually, Emily and I on Wednesday and Maureen on Thursday. She slept over Wednesday night and Thursday night, participating in our community activities (dinner and general shenanigans) and tried to experience what our community is really like. Her visit ended with a 10 hour meeting with the three of us. It was such incredible time spent with my housemates in such a loving and prayerful setting. We were able to discuss a variety of things ranging from our own individual issues as well as community issues.

One of the wonderful things about my community here is that we all tend to be on the same page about a lot of things and it was made even more evident by the community meeting with Katie. Given that we've spent 5 months here (as of yesterday!), we realized the need to re-group with each other and to check in with how everyone is doing. Katie left us late last night, as we tried to convince her to sleep over one more night to no avail. She promises to return :-). I firmly believe that as a community, the three of us will now be able to go into the next 6ish months with open minds and loving hearts because of the time Katie has spent with us.

Thursday evening I was on line-up during the meal. The snow was falling, creating a really nice layer of slush all over the yard and the guests trickled in, as they normally do when the weather is fair. Fred was outside with me doing tickets when a guest, whose name I've come to learn is Alex, went up to him. Alex has a severe alcohol problem and I've only ever seen him very, very intoxicated. At the Inn, we generally let people in when they are under the influence, unless we foresee them being a danger to themselves or someone else. Alex was not really able to stand up straight and had wet himself prior to his arrival at the Inn so Fred used his better judgment to give Alex a side-door meal to go. Alex doesn't really speak a whole lot of English so when I saw him starting to follow Fred, I intervened and told him that he needed to wait at the gate for Fred to return with his food, all in Spanish. He began to cry and made his way to one of the exterior walls of the Inn and basically crumbled to the ground in a sobbing mess. Between Fred and I, we took turns being with Alex in his weakness and trying to convince him that he wasn't going to die, despite what he may have wanted, and that he just needed to get to a hospital or shelter for the night.

Alex lives on the street and both Fred and I were concerned that merely getting him to stand up and walk out of the yard was not going to be enough, but that we had to find some place for him to go so that he could be warm and safe. Fortunately, the police had pulled a car over right in front of the Inn for a traffic violation so Fred went over to get the cops to figure out what the best solution was for Alex. They ended up taking him to a hospital with our prayers and a bag of food.
Since that time, I've been thinking a lot about how Alex, likely an illegal immigrant, came to the United States for the hope of a better life. I don't know what Alex's situation was before coming to the US, but I highly doubt this is the life he was hoping for. It pains me to think what he gave up back home and the sacrifice he made to be here, and the loneliness and depression he feels here.

Monday morning my dad arrives from NH to visit for a couple days before him, Emily and I head back to NH for my brother's wedding!!! I'm looking forward to spending some time with my dad and for him to get to experience more fully what it is I'm doing here!
Thank you all so much for taking the time to read my stories. God bless you all!

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