One Million Arrows Christian Parenting Blog

Posted in: Arrow Stories

Hidden Beauty
Guest Author: Leslie Reavely
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Leslie & LaurenAfter an eye-opening week at World Venture's kids' missions camp, hosted at Camp Jonah, teenage sisters, Leslie and Lauren Reavely, co-founded the ministry Hope 2 Others (H20), a practical help ministry to homeless and panhandlers. Here is one of Leslie's inspiring blog entries!

I couldn't help but take it in...a baby sat in her stroller wailing while her mom dug through a pile of blankets and clothes. Barbecue smoke billowed from behind several rows of hanging jackets. Hundreds of people pushed and shoved to get first pick at the hats and scarves. As they swarmed past and bumped into me, my nose resisted wrinkling under the odor that emanated from their stained, tattered coats.

Although my surroundings appeared gray and dirty, hidden beauty somehow attracted me to it.

Earlier that morning my sister and I joined a small group of teenagers in leading games for Portland's homeless. Our assigned games consisted of a peculiar ring toss and dart throw at balloons. We received no directions but were told, "Just make it fun." Clueless in where to start making rules and organizing prizes, we feared that no one would care for the "homemade" games.

As the first players trickled in, we were surprised with how they responded. Their pleasure wasn't in the game itself but in the simple competition with each other. One short young man dressed in slacks and a tie stepped forward with a giant grin on his face. Leaning over to his friend, he jokingly boasted, "How much do you want to bet that I can pop a balloon on the first try?" He closed one eye and carefully aimed the dart. Then with a step and a windup he sent the dart whizzing toward the pink targets. With a thud, the dart missed and fell.

At the failed attempt, he and his friend erupted into laughter. "I bet I could do better," the latter challenged. The two of them took several turns challenging each other back and forth. Their joy in competing and winning reminded me of how real these people are. Unfortunately, I often fail to see the men and women on the street corners as individuals with friends and feelings, desires and dreams. But watching these men smile and laugh as if they were kings encouraged me to treat them like they really were the richest men on earth.

panhandler 1Meanwhile, a married couple was trying on different hats, debating over the best ones to choose. The wife pulled out a rainbow beanie and slid it over her blond hair. She then walked up to the widows of the building to see her reflection. She turned as if she was a model in front of a crowd. After observing herself, she then returned to her husband saying she'd keep it.

To prepare for the cold weather, every homeless person made a stop by the table of blankets. Each of them spent considerable time choosing their favorite print. Most of them were outdated, ones we'd get rid of right away. Others were faded. I overheard a lady telling her friend, "Look at this blanket I got! Don't you like the pattern?" She lifted up a faded blue comforter with a flowered print covering it.

A rainbow beanie and outdated quilt are two things I probably would never buy. But even the used, unpopular items of our culture were valuable to them.

Spending a morning with the poor is more eye opening then I ever imagined. I got a taste for their life but also a new perspective of my own.

Leslie Reavely

panhandler 2H2O, which stands for Hope 2 Others, is a nonprofit organization designed to bring physical and spiritual hope to homeless people worldwide, through lunch bags filled with the following items:

  • Water bottle
  • Gospel Tract
  • Rescue Mission meal voucher
  • Socks
  • Tuna and crackers
  • Granola Bar or cereal bar
  • Fruit snack or applesauce cup
  • Crackers with peanut butter
  • Hand wipe
  • Pack of Kleenex
  • Mints

H2O bags, designed to tangibly give hope to a homeless person, are sold or given to people who will carry them in their car and deliver them when they see someone holding a "homeless and hungry" sign.

Along with their passion to help the poor, Leslie and Lauren enjoy playing music, speaking, and spending time with friends and family. Their goal for H2O is to spread hope 2 others—one bag at a time.

Enjoy this video that gives practical ideas for reaching out to the homeless:

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