Bowling With A 9 y/o Homeless Kid

Another Friday had rolled around, this was going to be my last time hanging out with B.  (Read part 1 here.)   before we left.  I wanted to take him to a movie, because I didn’t think he probably got to go to the movies very much. 

I picked up Ben at the YWAM base and thought, I should run to the bathroom real fast, but I ignored that.  Don’t ignore the voice of wisdom.  I just had to shishi.  (That’s how people in Hawaii call going numero uno, I know when I first heard it, it sounded like a better name for numero dos… but I digress) 

The carpool lane to pick up kids from school was so backed up that I was on a major road and not even on the street where the school was when we got in line.  I was kicking myself for not going the bathroom and I told Ben.  I probably told him every 30 seconds.  What a teachable moment… the Bible personifies wisdom as having a voice… and the voice of wisdom was speaking to me at the YWAM base to GO THE BATHROOM and I was a fool and did not listen. 

Anyway… we picked up Bless and headed to the movie theater.  I parked and walked quickly to the bathroom.  We all chee-hoo’d in the parking garage, because that’s what you do in spaces that echo is shout.  (Chee hoo is like the Yee-Haw of Hawaii.) 

We stood in line to get tickets, and I couldn’t see the movie that I wanted to see listed.  There weren’t a ton of kids movies options… I don’t remember the names of them now, but one was really more targeted at girls, and the other cartoon was the one I wanted to go see.  When we went up to the ticket window the movie we were going to see wasn’t listed.  I asked about it, and they said that they pulled the movie.  Oh…

We sat on the steps and thought about what to do next. 

“Are you hungry B? If you could eat anything what would you want?” 

“I’m not really hungry right now.” 

“What do you want to do?” 

“Um…. I don’t know.” 

I had an idea.  I had seen Lucky Strike being built at the mall but hadn’t gone in yet.  So we drove over to the mall.  I was pretty sure that there was a bowling alley there.  We walked in and asked how things work.  The bowling alley was on the floor above and the hostess recommended that if we were going to bowl we do that first.  So we went upstairs and paid, and got shoes and socks, and got our lane.  Of the four lanes, there was one other that was taken.  We located a light ball for B. to use.  B. had never bowled before.  So I showed him what to do.  He was hesitant to try, but did so reluctantly.  We ended up putting the bumpers up for him.  None of us cleared 100.  B. asked how much bowling cost.  It wasn’t cheap, nothing in Hawaii is cheap.  I didn’t realize at the time but this was him asking to play another round, I didn’t catch it.  I’m still to used to my direct East Coast way of communicating, and not the Asian influenced hinting at things.  He really enjoyed bowling. 

We went downstairs to the restaurant and got a booth.  It’s also an arcade, so the flashing lights and noise was a bit overwhelming.  We looked at a menu.  B. said he wanted poke.  Market price.  I tried to suggest something else, more kid friendly, and maybe more budget friendly.  Nope, B. wanted poke.  (Pronounced po-kay)  Cubes of raw ahi.  A delicace.  A homeless 9 year old kid wants sushi grade ahi. 

For some reason this messed with me.  I remember a friend telling me when he was on food stamps in Hawaii that he would go and get poke all the time too, telling me it was the best he had ever eaten.  Wichael could see my internal struggle, “Hey B. what if we split the poke bowl?”  B. agreed.  We also got the kalua pork nachos which our waiter suggested to us.  B. loved those.  I could load a game token card up when I paid my bill.  These places are so smart, if you change currencies enough times, you forget how much you’re paying to play. 

I let B. and Wichael go peruse the game floor while I paid the bill, I wanted B. to look at every game and decide which one he wanted to play before starting so he didn’t miss out on the best ones.  B. came back to me a minute later, eyes wide with a smile on his face.  He had left the napkin tucked into his shirt.  He was so excited. 

I paid the bill and found them, and watched an enthralling game of air hockey, where B at the buzzer beat Wichael.  I’m pretty sure Wichael was trying too… eh maybe not. 

I had a meeting that evening that I had to get to, and I still had to get B. home, and Wichael back to the YWAM base, and pick up Jess and head to our evening meeting.  We played a few more games with B. and headed on our way. 

I got to see B. again at church the next Sunday to say goodbye.  It was my last Sunday at church in Hawaii. 

Last I heard his parents didn’t pick him up from school, and the school called the cops.  CPS picked him up and put him in foster care on a different part of the island.  I guess he’s back with his parents now, but only if his step dad does rehab.  Being a typical addict he can’t take responsibility for himself and is blaming this all on B.  Wichael has been able to spend sometime with B. since then.  When the subject of family comes up, B. avoids its.  “Let’s just play.”  or “Let’s talk about something else.” 

It’s sobering to think about the fact that B’s. story is not really unique.  Unique to us maybe who have had solid upbringings.  But there are many kids all over the world that are growing up in chaos.  I’m grateful to Ms. E who on her own reaches out to these kids. 

I don’t know where to go from here, what to write, what to feel.  How do we stop the cycle of poverty and addiction? 

Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

What strange imagery, lending to the Lord. 

I guess all we can do is pray, and then be obedient if God asks us to do something.

Ask God today what it looks like for you to be kind to the poor.  And if you’re having trouble being kind to the poor ask God to reveal to you why that is. 

Pray for B.

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