At Arlington Temple UMC, a formerly homeless woman offered her testimony on “Being God’s people in the world” as she joined the church. Because God’s people at Arlington Temple offered her a relationship, and nurtured it over a long period of time, this woman became part of their community of faith and found a home. Read her powerful words from that testimony below.

Next month I will officially become a senior citizen BUT my journey into a downward sparrow started when I turned 60 years of age.  I was asked to retire after 10 years with this company and at this point I had worked 40+ years during my adult span.  I told them I am not ready to retire and I want to seek work.  I went to the library every day and sent out over 200 resumes which I would say was critique by AARP and they seem to go into a wormhole.  No responses and thus the beginning of a saga in my life.

Two years into this saga I lost my best friend and companion who was there every step of the way from the beginning.  Once being told he only had a few months to live then a few weeks then a few days he died 6 weeks later.  His last question to me was who is going to take care of you now.  I told him to die in peace and I would be okay.  After his death the landlord wanted to renovate the apartment we had and raise the rent and I knew I could not afford this.  The second phase of this was I had nowhere to lay my head and would have to find a way to take care of ME.

I always was a believer in my spiritual father, mentor, director, and sole companion being in my life to provide me with what I needed.  I grew up seeing my Mother on her knees every night and witness my parent raising 9 children and 3 generations of grandchildren.  

I started each day with the Lord’s Prayer and 23 Psalm and would awaken to not knowing what to do and living through each day with nowhere to go.  Empowered by the Holy Spirit I would finding myself every night in a place where I could be safe and get a night sleep.  Sometimes I had fear in my heart and became unsettled about what tomorrow would bring.  I got through day by day meeting people along the way who I would befriend.  Some I found out were in the same realm of displacement as I was.  Older women who worked most of their lives and ended up jobless and homeless.  I started to see this 60 age saga happening to family members and friends I grew up with.  Most of us 60 and over and of color.

This is when I was told of Arlington Temple United Church.  I was told every Wednesday you can go there for bible study and a card to help you get by.  When the church ended their card distribution I still kept coming there and by now I went there every day from Monday through Friday.  I got to know Pastor Allie and Ms. Devine and would talk to them about my life and trials and tribulations.  I felt at home in Arlington Temple came to know this place of God was a welcoming place and began telling those I met in my walk of being homeless to come and visit Arlington Temple.  When people asked me where I was going I would say to church and some of them followed me and now we all are a family and meet daily at Arlington Temple.  I started to go to Sunday services and meet a lot of the congregation at Arlington Temple and thank the Lord I found a place where I can pray and be a part of a spiritual family.

During these time I got to know the Out Reach Team and the coordinator told me about a shelter that he thought I would like.  The Out Reach Coordinator and staff at Arlington Temple wanted me to go into a shelter and this is something I did not want.  I was still holding on to getting a job and moving on.  This shelter was one I did consider and every day two to three times a day I would call them and they would say there was no bed available.  They only had two beds for females and they were both full.  Then on Christmas Eve 2014 they called me and told me they had a bed if I could get there.  I told them I would not be able to get there that night because of transportation problem but in the morning I would be there.  They held the bed for me and thus began my next saga.

I stay there for the winter and the Employment Counselor helped me with seeking employment.  I went on another interview and had a very good interview.  When I did not hear back from the job interview the Counselor called them and was told they hired someone with more experience.  We looked at each other and this is when I realized not only was I at an age where younger interviewee had better opportunities but my opportunity to get employment was not a way out of being homeless.  I was able to get a room and then again a wall went up and I was informed I would have to pay for my medicine.  I have now learned the cost of medicine would be almost $200.

The beginning of the next saga in homelessness was I had to choose between rent and medicine.  I went back to being homeless because I needed my medicines to live – asthma and thyroid conditions are lifelong need for medication.I continue on this journey and went to Arlington temple and started to meet people who were willing to rent a space to me.  In these encounters I was robbed and after paying was asked to leave.  I asked the Lord for strength and guide me to solace and peace.  This is when I started losing family members – first my nephew, then my baby sister and six months later my older sister.  

My older son asked me to come stay with him until a felt stronger.  Awakening to three pre-teen girls arguing and fussing was a daily event.  I had to eventually sit them down and talk about sisterly love and how now I would love for them to get along with one another and keep the peace in the morning.  “Okay Grandma” they said to me and “Grandma you just don’t understand.”  I told them I grew up with a sister and 4 older sisters so please give me some peace in the morning.  I buried my baby sister which was very hard since we were two years apart and raised our sons together.  I still miss her each and every day but I know she is in a better place – no more sorrow, no more pain and she is in heaven with our Mother and Father and many more.  

The Out Reach personnel reached out to me and pleaded with me to go into the shelter.  I had a Guardian Angel and she would on a daily basis talk to me about going in.  Eventually she worked her charms on me and I tried the winter shelter.  Then my doctor of twenty years called me and pleaded with me to give the shelter a chance.  He wanted me to go in and see what they could do for me.  Will a couple months turn into 5 months and I was taken to the place where I was accepted and given an apartment.  I love my home and once again Arlington Temple helped me to get re-established in life and gave me pots, dishes and silverware.  God talked to me and walked with me and I listen.  I am only 4 blocks from Arlington Temple and I can walk there every day and still have my confidantes guide me and critique me and direct me in my journey in life.  Thank the Lord for all those who have helped me along the way.  AND most of all my sons and grandkids are happier now that I have a place to live in.  I am equipped to go out as a child of God and encourage others to come to Arlington Temple United Church.