A picture of the courtyard inside of CitySquare's new Opportunity Center, our home base during the poverty simulation. These three girls came down to join me on the Corner not too long ago!
Next Tuesday through Thursday, I will participate in a poverty simulation hosted by CitySquare. No one attending has a clue what will actually go down, but here are a few possibilities:
- Living on a few dollars a day,
- Sleeping outdoors on the ground (but inside the gated CitySquare building for safety),
- Always having to carry around all of the stuff I need to live -- including a sleeping bag, clothes, toiletries, a pillow, etc. -- so that my stuff doesn't get taken by someone else.
I'm sure there are many other things that could happen these two days that I cannot now picture. For instance, will I be able to take a shower? If I can, where will I do that?
Furthermore, I have a precisely calculated pillow placement at night that guarantees a solid eight hours. I have been working on it but currently can only fit one pillow in my backpack.
Next, will I be at the top of my spiritual game if I don't get to sip on my morning coffee -- organic heavy whipping cream, no sugar please -- while curled up on the couch for my power hour with G.K. Chesterton, Tim Keller, or the theological flavor of the day? God, if you're reading this blog post, power hour will be physically impossible next Wednesday and Thursday -- please be mindful that I'm just trying to abide by the simulation guidelines.
In all seriousness (okay fine, I'm pretty serious about my pillows and power hour), every time I write "poverty simulation," I can't help but laugh, because real poverty is not a group event that you sign up for, and then go back home, and then tell your friends what you learned.
Actually, the first time I heard of a poverty simulation sixteen months ago, I could not sign up fast enough. The convenience of learning the ins and outs of poverty in a mere 48 hours seemed too good to pass up. But the week of the simulation conflicted with a last-minute social engagement. So I bailed -- because you can't always fit being poor into your schedule, am I right?
So why am I essentially having a sleepover with homeless people and pretending I don't write a blog using my MacBook Pro while drinking a lime LaCroix? Well, the answer is twofold:
- I genuinely enjoy the company of my homeless friends. I love sitting on the sidewalk, catching up, laughing, and just enjoying being together. At the end of every day I have to leave ... and leaving these friends means I'm leaving a part of myself also.
- When you love someone, you want to experience what they experience. It may seem like the focus of my work in South Dallas is on meeting random homeless people's immediate or surface-level needs. But the truth is, these are my people. I love them. And I want to be with them.
I'm jumping at the chance to "simulate" poverty because it means spending 43 straight hours with the people I have come to know and love.
Fingers crossed I find an outlet for my sound machine. And an extension cord. And some whole Columbia coffee beans. And a coffee grinder. And another outlet. Actually ... I'm going to need a surge protector.
If you are a praying person, please pray for me and the others doing this poverty simulation. Particularly, I would love prayers for staying healthy through this process.
: Although I have recovered from my illness this week, I have not rescheduled my yellow bus ride because of this poverty simulation next week. Stay tuned for rescheduling!