|Last month I was blessed with the opportunity to take a week-long vacation with one of my best friends–a seven-day sabbath from parenting, technology, and Haywood Street. I was overwhelmed by all things on-land, so the idea of being on a boat on the wide-open sea was exciting to say the least.
As day three approached, we started preparing for the time we would be spending in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. As we browsed our excursion options, we came across a “spend a day in service” choice. We hardly read the description, quickly singing ourselves up and paying the small fee.
What followed was a day spent in the community called La Perla. This shanty town has a rich history–the original site of the island’s slaughterhouse and slave population. In more recent history, La Perla became known for housing the “outcasts” of Old San Juan.
Our day was spent in a small community center. We created packages of toiletries, underwear, and socks and took them to a nearby church where a woman was single-handedly running a shower ministry. The concept was simple: A person comes in and immediately receives a small snack and beverage. They are given one of the bags we had created, and are allowed a 15 minute shower. After their shower, they pick out a laundered outfit and enjoy a full breakfast.
Folks in our service group had so many questions: What is the intake process? How do you know these people really need a free shower and food? What happens if you run out of supplies?
The woman calmly responded. “There is no intake process. We are not here to determine who needs what. We don’t run out. We operate out of abundance.”
I turned to my friend and laughed. “Looks like we traveled hundreds of miles, past multiple countries, into a small town on a tiny island…only to find Haywood Street.”
And praise be to that.
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