Last evening was a night like no other. A night I will never forget and a night that opened my eyes.
The kids and I changed into nice, dressy clothes and made our way down to the Union Gospel Mission to meet Ed. We were spending the evening with him and the guys he lives life with every day of his internship at the Men's Shelter.
It was graduation night. A night that is celebrated every month. Honoring the men who have completed their 13 months in the Mission's year program. Ed interns with the Blue Badge group which are the men who are in their last months of the program before graduating.
Ed asked if we would come celebrate graduation with him by having dinner with the guys then heading over to the ceremony at the Town Hall.
I was a bit reserved and hesitant to go. I know some of the guys' stories through Ed. Being beaten as kids. Severe drug and alcohol addictions. Witnessing shootings. Homelessness. Loss of family members. Unsafe homes growing up. Jail. If you can even begin to imagine the worst scenario, it has more than likely happened to one of the guys that Ed sits with every day. I had it all pictured in my head how they would look. Act. Be. Rough. Dirty. Torn clothes. Scary. Not all there mentally. And it made me a bit nervous.
And I was way off the mark.
These are some of the most sincere, kindest, humblest, friendliest, sound-minded, men I have ever met. And well dressed! Suits. Ties. Sport coats even.
Sitting talking with a man from Iowa about snowstorms and his love for photography. I was cracking up at his humor and jokes. He was hilarious!
Listening to a guy from Indiana talk about how much he doesn't miss the ice.
One man showing me the scar on his forehead from when he slipped and fell on the rocks down by the sound while hanging with some sea otters and had to have 40+ stitches.
Shaking hand after countless hand.
They were so glad to meet Ed's family. I lost count of how many guys told me they appreciate Ed and are so thankful for him. They doted over the kids. I had to tell the guys no more candy canes at the dinner table. My purse was already full from the ones they kept giving!
Being in my husbands daily environment was amazing. Seeing him joke with the guys, giving hugs, hearing how much they appreciate him and meeting guys my heart has broken over in the safe confines of my home.
I wanted to squeeze them all in my mini van, bring them home and have a meal around the table with them. Young and old. The one's in the early 20's and the men in their 50's and 60's. Their faith is so much stronger and deeper than my own. They have seen, been a part of and lived horrid things. Things I can not even begin to imagine. But there they were. Living. Growing. Loving. And my husband is a part of them. And he loves them. And they love him.
I told Ed I can now understand why he loves working there so much. It's far from glamorous. But he could care less. They have changed him. How could they not?
Thank you my love for inviting us. For introducing me to some amazing guys. It opened my eyes to what you live every day. And you are exactly where you are supposed to be.