I love to travel, to anywhere...places I've been a lot (back home to Illinois) or new places.  It’s especially exciting to visit new places, cities you’ve just read about, but never experienced first hand. Observing different cultures, eating new foods, getting out of the routines of ordinary life are all positives for me. I also know many people at God’s Grace have had exciting travel this past year. I’m thinking about Zach spending a semester in Prague, Taylor spending 3 weeks in Greece, the Schumachers on an African safari, mission trippers to Nicaragua and Milwaukee, and those are just a few that come to mind quickly. What amazing experiences for everyone!

The past few months I’ve been blessed to visit several places for the first time…Barcelona, Spain and Seattle and Portland in the Northwest. The sights and sounds (and smells) are still fresh in my mind from the amazing architecture in Barcelona, to the Pike Market in Seattle, to the many bridges in Portland. I also enjoy people watching while on vacation. One thing I noticed is that there are happy looking people (and sad, mad, indifferent, lonely, interested) everywhere you go…and there are homeless people everywhere you go.

My daughter and I had an interesting conversation about homelessness. Among the topics, is it easier/better to be homeless in Chicago or Paris or Peoria, IL? Hmmm. The bottom line is that somehow that person’s life became so out of control, sad, unsupported, etc. that they were forced to hit the streets, or they chose to hit the streets rather than endure their life as it was? Many scenarios there, I’m sure. (A recent benefit I attended for Urban Peak, an organization that supports homeless teens and young adults opened my eyes to some reasons for homelessness particularly in that age bracket.) Fact is, it must suck to be homeless.

One night in Portland, we socialized with one of my college friends and her niece, who both reside there in the lovely suburbs of that city. They were telling us about some of the “must go to” places, among which were Voodoo Doughnuts. It seems standing in line for these delicacies is almost a given for all who visit. The subject of favorite flavors came up, and the 24-year-old niece said it’s too hard to choose, suggesting the best choice is to order the Voodoo Dozen (they choose the flavors.) When our eyes widened at the crazy thought of a dozen doughnuts between the 2 of us, she quickly added, “Oh just give the leftovers to the bums.”

By chance, the next day we did happen upon one of the Voodoo Doughnuts locations. As reported, the line was out the door and down the street. We witnessed numerous people milling about with the famous pink box of the dozen in hand. Somehow the sight was almost sickening. We decided there was no way we were going to wait in a line for doughnuts, and off we went for the famous ice cream store.

I haven’t been able to get the comment about “the bums” out of my head. Is that the best we have to offer our homeless neighbors, a half-eaten box of doughnuts?

Dear God, thank you for blessing us with travel opportunities. May your love surround not only the homeless people of the world, but also all of the folks living in the lovely suburbs. Amen

Andrea Heshmati

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