We’ve received some correspondence from our friend Bob Gamble, who visited the Women’s Center in February, just in time for Good Friday (and Easter), and wanted to share it with everyone. Bob says it’s OK with him, so here goes:
EASTER STORIES , for preachers, teachers, and all travelers on the journey of Holy Week.
1. Last fall, a journalist and photographer came from Sweden to do a story for a newspaper that would proceed a fund drive for UNICEF. The journalist was a beautiful woman, tall, well dressed, her blond hair spilling over her black, wool coat. She had a gentle manner, but she was a journalist with a job to do.
We went under the street, about 15 feet under in a concrete block room; I climbed down the ladder first. We stood on large metal pipes, in the dark without a flashlight. I called out and a voice answered. The journalist heard me talking to him but couldn’t see him. Then a boy came out of the shadows, his feet showing first, then legs and arms and face, him staggering because his nervous system was ruined by the drugs. The journalist didn’t say anything; when the translator came down and he said to her, “Are there any questions you want to ask him?” and I saw in the dark how she just shook her head and said nothing. Then she kind of stood there while I gave the boy medicine and the translator told him how to use it… “Is there anything else you want to know…. do you want to go back up now,” the translator asked her. And she said, “I just want to stay for a little while.” And that’s when I knew she was weeping. She can’t speak anymore, I said to myself. It’s one of those slow cries that women can’t stop when tears just keep coming out and down. She went up the ladder. I followed her. Even outside she wept.
2. We were in an abandoned garage, I and an Australian who was filming for UNICEF. There were three boys in the little room and they were all high on Baltushka which is a wicked and debilitating drug. I was making conversation some boys who lived there. I knew this boy on the streets had at least one brother, so I asked, “Where’s your brother?” And he said something that I didn’t understand and then I saw him catch his breath. He sucked in for a second and then he said “On oomare” which means, “he died.”
To appreciate Easter one must pass through Good Friday which I believe means recognizing places of pain and death in your life and in the world. For much of our lives we live on that Saturday between the two. This is true certainly if we are attempting to heal the pain of the world. In such times, Easter means hope.
Here, to me, are signs of hope.
I spoke to a church in Orlando. A woman who owned horses was there and spoke to me afterwards. “I’m thinking about making a change in my life.” She said. Months later, she sold the stables and sent me $2000. “I want to use this for horse therapy” I wrote back. Not two weeks passed before a young university student from Germany walked into the office announcing that she wanted to volunteer her time with us during the summer. “What do you want to do?” I asked.
“Well, I know some things about horses.”
She found the stables, the trainer, set up the program. Now street children from our dormitory go twice a week, for 3 hours each time, to clean, feed, and ride horses.
In January, two students came from Cambridge University. They heard a talk about street kids, found me on the web and wrote to ask if they could come. They should get a medal for their work. In one week, they went to the streets, hung out with our kids and built a website for students from 5 different universities in England to volunteer as interns with us. With them, I came to the conclusion that the way to inspire students to study is to hire tutors to teach and mentor them. Those girls from Cambridge arrived on Monday; by Thursday, I received the surprising email: $5000 had been donated. And who gave it? A teacher. I am paying for the tutoring of two children already.
I’m not saying everything is rosy. There are plenty of moments of frustration. What I am saying is I’m ASTONISHED at the way things fit together. It seems that the words of Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction may apply, “It doesn’t matter if it is an According to Hoyle miracle; what matters is God got involved.”
Grace and Peace this Easter,
Dr. Robert Gamble, D.Min. Th.M.
This Child Here,
C/O Doroga K Domy (The Way Home)
Str. Sofievskaya 10