It is my honor to introduce Laura Chapman and her testimony. Laura has been a faithful and motherly figure on the Kai since the beginning of this project. She, along with husband Glenn and their son Daniel, will often take the Saturday shift, which tends to be the busiest. We continue to seek what Jesus wants to make happen on the Streets, which means that we are in a process. This is one of Laura’s stories from the middle of that process, from the middle of the night, in the middle of Rudolfskai.
“It is 23:00, time to get ready. I check the weather app on my phone, so I can make sure to dress appropriately….
As I climb out of my very comfortable warm bed, my body is screaming! Too tired, my muscles hurt, I have a headache, I don’t feel like it…and so on and so forth. I get dressed and go down to the cellar to check on the backpacks. They should be loaded with water bottles, flip flops, a small packet of medical supplies, tissues, kitchen towels and last but not least, Mentos.
Once all is checked, Glenn is ready to go. I put on my comfortable sneakers and lastly, my blue Street Buddies jacket. This is the routine for us whenever we go to the Rudolf’s Kai, to do that which we have a heart for. As soon as we find parking, we take a slow walk to the Rudolf’s Kai. We can ascertain the kind of night that we will be having by the amount of young people on the streets, sometimes! The nights are all unpredictable, so it keeps us on our toes, alert and aware. Walking up and down on this small stretch of road from 23:30 – 4:30 takes its toll, and by the time it is two in the morning, I can already feel the weariness pushing through. It is around this time that we all look forward to a well-deserved break off our feet, a hot cup of coffee, and sometimes something small to eat!
When we leave Burger King, we are ready to face the next few hours. There are nights when there is a ‘strange’ feeling in the air, things suddenly explode, and we have fights that begin to break out sporadically. There are suddenly young people who need water, who are passing out, who are vomiting, who are having a fight because a boyfriend or girlfriend said or did something that hurt. And as quick as it happens, it ends. Then there are times when absolutely nothing happens. The streets are literally empty. Quiet. There are nights with hundreds of young people on the streets and in the bars, but there are no incidents. Everybody is happy and peaceful, and it seems like they are not drinking too much. It was on one of those nights, when I began to realise the answer to a question that I have often asked myself:
This time of your life is over; you don’t need to be out until the early hours of the morning… So, why are you doing this?
It was a Saturday night, before the Halloween weekend. We had returned from Burger King and had been on the street for about an hour already, when, from the corner of my eye, I saw someone collapse on the ground. Another Street Buddy ran to the young girl. I turned around, recognised who she was, and my heart broke! I ran to her and saw that she was really not well. She was vomiting.
I already knew her from previous times of chatting. She was a sweet, soft-spoken young girl. She had really touched my heart. And now, it was breaking. I gave her some water and a kitchen towel. I held her hair away from her face, so that it wouldn’t get full of vomit. I asked her if there was anyone I could call to come and fetch her. Her brother was already on the way. I just wanted to scoop her up in my arms, hold her tight, and tell her to stop doing this to herself. But I didn’t. Her brother arrived about five minutes later. We helped her up and took her to the car. All I wanted to do was cry. Later that week, she told my son Daniel what had happened. She said that we were there to help and look after her. She told him that it really made her feel special and safe.
That next Saturday, she made a bee-line for me and hugged me hard. I swallowed the tears back. And that is when I realised the answer to my question. Why do I do this? I do it for her. I do it for the one young person, that they may feel safe and special. I do it because I need to do it. I feel that I am called to do it. I live out my beliefs in doing it.
For the one! And for the One. This is why I do Street Buddies.