Chicken & Cigarettes - Pt. 5 - Pizza Parties in the Park  

Posted by Ben in

Remember being in elementary school? (Heck, for that matter, even middle school or high school if we're honest with ourselves). There were a few things which brought more joy than anything else. The first few days of school were GREAT because you finally got to see all of your friends, the few days before Christmas break were awesome (and the next few after it was over SUCKED). The best of course had to be the end of the school year, the last week, and certainly the last day. So much joy! There was another day that was always the best, Pizza Parties. It didn't matter if it was for a class, for homeroom, or some kid's parents brought it in for their birthday or for no reason, they were great. I think if we are really honest we will admit that a big group of people and 15 pizzas is a scene which still incites much joy to us as adults.

So on our way down we came up with a great idea, we would buy a bunch of pizza and have a party in the park. When was the last time these people had someone do something like that for them? It could have been somewhat recently, after all there are workers at the mission nearby who are very friendly, but chances are it had been a while.

There was a gentleman who'd been bothering us for money the whole time though we had already told them we really couldn't hand out much money, it just wasn't what we were there for. He told us at one point he wanted to get some food for another guy who was intoxicated on many different substances and was at a point in the hot day where he needed some food.

So we asked the gentlement, D'Andre if there was a specific pizza place he knew of that everyone there enjoyed. He told us there was one and we asked him where it was. He looked down Fayette St. and said "down there a few blocks, and make a left... eh here, I'll take you there." So we followed.

On the way there, D'Andre told us that he had been homeless until this year. He had spent about a year living with those folks in the park. He told us that he'd come back from time to time to spend it with the good people he'd lived with for a year. He told us he'd never forget where he'd come from. He told us about the past there with that community of people. He said there used to be a lot more and that they'd live in tents just up the road some until the city of Baltimore made a legislation which made it illegal for them to do so. He told us that after that they started to live anywhere they could find until the Church began to allow them to stay in the park right there. We asked him about the Mission George had told us he was going to stay at tonight. D'andre told us that the mission helps a lot of people out but there are certain "standards" that they make you adhere to which are not "conducive to the way some of us live." This blew me away and broke my heart that somehow people in this condition would not give up their alcohol or their drugs in order to be helped, it just made me wonder how you help someone with that type of mentality?

So we got about 7 blocks down the road and into this greasy, hole-in-the-wall, mom and pop pizza shop. We had them box up two hole pizzas to go and got cheese and pepperoni. We walked back up to the park with D'andre, handed him a box and said "hand it out, make sure everyone gets a piece." Galen handed out the other pizza as I left to receive an important phone conversation. As I returned, people were smiling ear to ear as they received their pizza.

There was so much joy in the park that day. People smiled and laughed and thanked us and those handing the pizza out for the pizza. It's amazing what small things can do! Joy filled the air as i walked around and took it all in. I thanked God for such an opportunity to bring joy into someone else's life. It reminded me of a quote from Tony Campolo.

"The Kingdom of God is meant to bring joy and excitement! If all you have to give them is a bowl of soup and a blanket, it's not enough. You have to be able to offer joy. The Kingdom of God exists to bring celebrations into the lives of those who have no reason to celebrate and to throw parties for those who have no parties."


We partied that day.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 1:36 PM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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