STORY of Love from the STREETS
I want to share about something beautiful that happened yesterday in the streets.
This is actually my first time meeting and talking to “someone from the streets” since I got here in Toronto.
A little background story: Mary and I were tasked to shoot a project with the theme “Love More”. The night before, we were discussing and brainstorming about the concept and the setting of the shoot. We wanted to do something that’s more authentic, like capturing an actual gesture of Love in unlikely places or scenario. So we agreed we go downtown. With 2 more friends, Sabrina and Raph, we were all ready for the project “Love”.
It was raining pretty much the whole day on Tuesday. We were praying for 2 things: First, for the rain to stop towards the later part of the day and second, that we may find someone who will agree to help us with our project.
We thought of buying some warm soup and bread to offer to whoever we will meet so we went to Tim Horton. Just when we got served, an old lady drenched from the heavy rain came in. She was pulling a red cart with some old stuff in it and a couple of boxes. She looked hungry and tired. Then she approached us.
Lady: Do you mind buying me a French Vanilla, please?
Mary looked at me. Surprised. We were like “Wow”!
So I thought this is it. It was as if she came down from heaven.
Me: Hi, how are you?
Lady: Good, thanks!
Me: Actually, we are from a church group, the Singles for Christ Community. We are doing a project. We are looking for someone from the street whom we can interview and take photos with. Would you be able to help us?
I wasn't sure if I said the right things there. But I was hoping she’d say yes.
She sounded so willing.
Me: Wow. That's great!
We were all so happy! So we asked her to sit on a table. I sat too and had a chat with her. In all honesty, I enjoyed looking at her as much as she enjoyed her French Vanilla, warm chicken noodle soup and bagel with butter. I have never seen that look of contentment and appreciation from anyone in a long time.
Me: By the way, I am Kristine. May I know your name?
Lady: I am Michelle. Hello Kristine.
Me: Nice meeting you, Michelle. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this with us. We were praying for guidance who to approach in the streets and then out from nowhere you approached us. You’re the answer to our prayer.
Michelle beams with joy, I could tell it from her eyes.
Lady: Oh really? Good to know that I am able to help.
She takes her sweet time savoring every sip of her soup and bite on the bagel.
Lady: This soup is really good. And the bread is good too with the butter. I do not usually take solid food. I just take Ensure.
Me: Really? Is that enough for a full day meal?
Lady: It is. It’s quite filling actually. The government provides me with 2 boxes of that weekly.
Me: Wow. That’s cool. I hope you don't mind me asking, do you have a place where you live? Or you pretty much stay out in the street the whole time?
Lady: I do have a room I rent. I receive some amount from the government and I pay my rent with it.
Me: Canada Government must be really generous noh? You know why? I am actually quite surprised to know that because if you go to the Philippines and visit the slum areas, in particular, you will see sad conditions of big families squeezing in (paused) I don't even know what to call the place. There is just so much poverty back home. So I guess people here are still lucky.
Lady: Is it? Yes, that is true. I feel lucky.
I don't know why I said that but I guess I wish to make her feel a bit of gratefulness somehow.
Me: And you just walk around throughout the day?
Lady: Yes, I go to malls, walk around the streets asking for change, doing panhandling.
Me: And how are the people here treating you? Are they nice and generous?
Lady: Just ok. I make about 50 dollars a day. I go out late and go home at 3 or 4 in the morning.
Me: Oh, I see. How is it in the winter time? Do you still do panhandling out in the streets? Do you have the proper winter jacket? I mean it can be really cold outside.
Lady: Yes. I do. Well, I can’t stop panhandling. That’s how I get by each day.
I was moved with compassion all the more. But I feel happy that she's open to answer my questions. So I shared a bit about myself.
Me: You know what? I know exactly how it feels to rely on other people's charity. I once begged for my mom's medicine when we had nothing. I am grateful to that person who helped us.
Lady: Oh really? What happened to your mom?
Me: She had a heart ailment. That day, the doctor said they needed to inject her with the medicine to stabilize her condition.
Lady: How is she now?
Me: Thank God she miraculously survived without any surgery.
Lady: That is really good. At least she is ok now.
Suddenly, it was like me talking to a friend there. I felt her sincere concern for my mom. That was nice of her.
Me: Sorry, I am really bad at names. What’s your name again? I had an overdose of anesthesia during a colonoscopy so I tend to be forgetful after that.
LOL. That was really embarrassing. I am bad at remembering names. No. 1 MUST NOT DO DURING INTERVIEWS: FORGET NAMES.
Lady: That’s ok Kristine. It’s Michelle.
She was smiling as I blushed.
Me: Yeah. Right. Michelle... I just wonder. Have you always been alone here? Or you have a family close by?
Lady: I do. My family lives in New Brunswick. I have a sister who is a cop and she lives with her son in a city not far from here. She visits me just whenever she gets the time.
I sensed a sad tone there. Sigh. I can't think of a word to say after that.
Me: That's good. At least you got a family visiting you every now and then...
I tried to change the topic.
Me: Michelle, what's a good day like to you?
Lady: When I get a lot of change from people.
Me: Oh yeah, right.
Then I saw her wiping her mouth with her bare hand so I took some napkins from the counter and handed them to her. She noticed the little rosary ring on my finger.
Lady: That's a really nice ring on your finger.
Me: Oh, thank you! It was given to me by a dear friend.
Lady: I am a Catholic too. But I do not go to church. I just pray at home.
Me: Wow. Yes, you can pray anywhere. God is everywhere.
Lady: He is. He is my best friend.
I was speechless and happy to hear that from her. Yes! For a moment there, I realized that's why she never felt alone. Because she's always got a companion wherever she goes.
We went outside to another location for our last few shots.
We sat by the bench outside Queen station. And I noticed she's got a nice pair of eyes.
Me: Oh, I just noticed now that we're outside, you have a pair of beautiful hazel eyes. I have never seen someone with hazel eyes before. I once wished my baby would have blue eyes. (laughed) But I was told recently that scientifically, it would be impossible.
Lady: No, nothing is impossible, Kristine.
Me: Wow. Yeah. Nothing is impossible.
I was amazed. That hit me. It was the affirmation I needed at that very moment.
My friends signaled that we had to go to rush to our next destination for the shoot. So I hugged and thanked her.
Me: Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your life to me today. God bless you Michelle. You take care always.
Michelle: It's my pleasure. Just come and see me anytime. I'll be around, somewhere. Thank you too for your help today.
That was an awesome experience! I was dumbfounded.
I felt so blessed and overwhelmed with joy after that 30-minute conversation with a total stranger. We went downtown to look for a "beggar" and planned to show him love. But God sent us this lady, we didn't even have to look for her, she approached us and she brought God's message of love to us. And I thought we'd be the ones to help. But it wasn't just one-way. Because we too were helped by a stranger.
And even if I don't know her full life story, I know in my heart that God will bless her. She will never be alone. Someone will always be God's instrument of love to her.
By the way, on our way to the subway later that night, we bumped into her. What a coincidence?! We were just talking about her like wondering where could she be at that time. Call it destiny? I believe it is God's Divine Intervention!
So I label our whole experience as the "the story of Love from the streets". Indeed, you can find love everywhere, and sometimes, with the magic of miracles, we find it in the most unlikely places.
|I had her permission to post our selfie and all our photos here with her. :)|
|I honor each one of them for going out in the rain for this project.|
This post is part of the A to Z April Challenge
a blog hop that goes through the alphabet
for all the days of April except Sundays.
Today's feature is S for STORY from the STREET.