I've had an awesome time in Albuquerque so far! In comparison to some of the other cities I've been to, the amount of homeless people isn't huge, but they aren't too hard to find! And I've loved the people I've met so far!
Before I go on with Albuquerque, I'll talk about my stop at the Grand Canyon! It was my first time seeing the Grand Canyon and I am obsessed! It's so beautiful! It just blows my mind how God does all this stuff that He doesn't have to do. He didn't have to make the world beautiful; it could have been plain and boring and still completely functional. But He made it beautiful. And a ton of the ways that He blesses us, we would be okay without, but He chooses to bless us anyway. Just because He loves us so much and loves blessing His kids. It blows my mind!
Here's me at the Grand Canyon! I could have stayed there forever!
Back to Albuquerque. My first day out, the guy I talked to longest was Alex. He's quite the character! He's pretty easy to find, too because he always has on a cowboy hat and a bright green bandanna around his neck. By the way, an interesting fun fact I learned from him was that a bandanna tied around your neck is a sign of train hoppers- and different colors mean different things. That made me laugh because I have a scarf that's kind of like an over-sized bandanna that I tie around my neck that way. I always thought train hopping would be fun, maybe it's in my blood! (Just kidding, mom!) But now I'll always think of my train hopping friends when I wear that! Anyway, Alex kind of peaked my interest because he's young- only 20. Whenever I see young kids out, I want to hear their story because usually I only see older homeless people. For most older people, they have a story of losing their job for different reasons and that's how they ended up where they are. But for young kids, it's always different. Some times the kids got kicked out, a lot of times they're just looking for adventure, but most of the time there's a common denominator of a not so awesome family background. A tough family background is actually a huge common denominator in the older homeless people, too. It makes me think of Randy's story about when he was a kid, he lived in an agricultural area. He remembers watching a farmer walk out to his fields, pick up some of the dirt, rub it in his hands, and sniffing it before he would plant anything. He would do that all the time. Randy said when he was younger, he didn't really know why the guy always did that with the dirt, but now he knows that he was making sure that the soil was good. Because his seeds were precious and he didn't want to put them in bad soil. He compared that to having children. How kids are seeds and they're precious. And they need a good environment to grow up in. It's so true- so many of the people I meet when explaining their situations, start with the issues of their childhood. Pretty much all of their issues start there. It just proves how impressionable kids are and how important it is to provide them with a nurturing environment. Even though that's all true, I'm so glad that through Jesus, we no longer have to be defined by our childhood or family issues. Because we start fresh, adopted into a new family- the Kingdom. And we have a perfect, loving, ever-present, all- knowing, all-powerful, full of mercy, full of joy, quick to forgive Daddy who's love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out. And He totally fills any voids that were left from a not great childhood! It's so awesome to me that family issues don't have to have any affect on us at all, because we're new creations, adopted into a new family, with a perfect Father who fulfills every need and satisfies every desire.
But talking to Alex was really fun! He talked to me a little bit about how he got where he is and what he wants to do in the future. One thing he said that it wouldn't hurt all rebellious teenagers to hear was how one of his friends said to him, "I wish I could be more like you, just take off and not have to deal with my family anymore." And Alex said, "Don't you ever say that! Your family's all you got!" And he talked about how at first, he just wanted freedom, but now he's realizing he misses his family. But Alex reminded me a lot of my old self. He talked about how all he wanted out of life was to be free. All he wants is to have fun and have freedom. I know now that true freedom is only found where the Spirit of the Lord is. You can say that all day, or hear that all day, and just shrug it off- until you experience it. Truly experiencing God changes everything!
Yesterday I got to hang out with some Navajos! I met Eldon, Sophia, and Carlos at a park. They were really sweet, funny people! Except for when they were making fun of me for saying, "Yay!" too much haha. I can't help it, I get excited! Eldon and Carlos were just funny, but Sophia was more open to talking about her past and her issues. Sophia is so, so sweet. She grew up living on the reservation with her grandma and aunt, but when she was really young, there were Mormons who preached door to door on the reservation, and she went into one of their foster programs. Through some bad situations with her job and husband, she turned to alcohol to cope and now she's living on the streets. She's had a lot of hardships in her life, but she does trust in God and she says she prays to him for help and He gets her through. I just love Natives so much, and I know God loves them even more than I can understand! And it's so awesome how both Eldon and Sophia talked about God and their faith in Him.
I only have a couple more days here in Albuquerque! I love the people here, but it's also really evident how much Albuquerque needs light. Even Alex talked about how New Mexico isn't called "the land of enchantment" for no reason. And he said it's not "good" enchantment either, it's dark here. People are just searching for freedom and power, but settling for a dark counterfeit, when there's a freedom and power that brings life! Let's all pray for God's true, life bringing power and freedom to break through all over New Mexico!