Bob wipes the sweat from his forehead. It’s been a really long day. His daughter called yet again asking for him to visit. She even offered to pay but he won’t let her do that. He still has his pride even if he is retired and on a budget. He almost has enough saved.
He watches Marshall talk to the scruffy old man and young girl. They come every week for food. Marshall prays hard for them every day. He’s walked in on him a few times, so he knows. The church members wonder why he doesn’t drive a newer card or do as much visiting on the days he feeds the homeless. Most of them don’t understand because they are all nearly homeless. It’s a dying congregation, that’s for sure.
But Marshall is out here two days a week, feeding these homeless people. He picks up the food from somewhere. It’s possible he is paying for it out of his meager salary. Any leftovers go to the Food Bank or some other ministry here in town. Bob waits silently while Marshall watches the last two walk away. He knows from experience he is praying for them.
If only someone else would help Marshall, he could take a few weeks and visit his daughter. His grandchildren will be grown before he can visit them. He sighs.
“What’s up, Bob? Thank you for being here so faithfully. You make it so much easier on me. I really appreciate it.” Marshall looks at him closely. “You aren’t getting too hot are you? I think you forgot your hat today. And you really should let me get the tables. I am younger you know.” Marshall grins like it is a great joke. Bob smiles back.
“That’s okay, Marshall. This way I don’t have to worry about exercising. I just show up here and do my cardio and weight lifting with you!” They both laugh. Marshall’s eyes stray to the two walking through the park.
“She cut herself again, Bob. The poor girl. Larry confided in me that another homeless man tried to take advantage of her.” He shakes his head. “Several of the group ganged up on the man and beat him nearly senseless. Larry broke them up before they could kill him. They told him he’s not welcome among their group anymore.” He sighs.
“I need to pray more. Larry said she had already sliced into her face again by the time he got to her. He tried to get her into the emergency room but she refused. Somehow Larry got some butterfly bandages and ointment. He said something about Build Futures. I didn’t know they would help that way.”
Marshall gently pats Bob’s shoulder. “Anyway, thank you for your support, Bob. I count you as one of my very good friends.”
Bob ducks his head. Now he feels ashamed at wanting some time off. He’s not sure how he will manage it but he’ll see. Maybe he could cut his time short there.
“That means a lot to me, Marshall. Thank you for that. I don’t have many friends still alive. The women at the church are a little much for me and most of the men have gone home to heaven already.” Bob shies away from the topic. It sounds morbid and most young people don’t like to talk about death.
“We do need some new friends, don’t we, Bob? I’ll start praying for new people in the church and more friends for us. How’s that sound?”
Bob smiles. “That sounds great, Marshall, just great. I’ll help you pray.”
Marshall nods and bows his head. “Lord, thank You for my friend, Bob. Bless him and see to his needs, his wants, and his desires. You know the reason for the sigh, Lord, and You know how You will fulfill our desires and our wants. Bring us new friends and help our homeless ones be safe this week. And bless the women who come to church each Sunday.”
Bob nods. “Amen, Lord. Amen!”