Me llamo Pablo, y éste es la “Lifesong” mia…. (English below is a translation from Pablo’s responses in Spanish)
My name is Pablo. I have been in Austin for 10 years. I live here with my brother-in-law, and all of our family is back in Mexico. We do stone masonry work around the city. I have been coming to Church Under the Bridge for 9 years, since it was at Town Lake. One Sunday, I was riding past on my bicycle. I saw the people here smiling and serving others, so I just put my bike down and came to help serve the food. When I am Under the Bridge, everyone is nice to me, and this feels like my family.
When I first started coming, I was drinking all the time. Since I serve here, I don’t drink very much any more. Being here is better for me. I thank God for leading me to this church and this family. He is gracious to me.
I got the call to serve, so when I retired 02/01/07, that next day I reported to MPA. I had served in 3 different military units, but it was all peacetime stuff. For 30+ years I sat in comfortable, cushy, A/C churches, Sunday schools and Bible studies; it was time to step-up to the plate and use the skills GOD gave me to serve others. It took awhile for me to hear the wake up call but GOD had been patient with me. It was clear that I didn’t have to cross continents to serve in a mission field – I only needed to drive across town.
Certain magazines say Austin is in the top ten cities to live in USA; we have brothers and sisters and many unbelievers who probably wouldn’t agree. They live in homes that are in disrepair, with all kinds of problems. The work abounds.
I continue to pray that other gifted brothers and sisters would join us in reaching out to this part of our city under the community development program taking with us the joy & message of Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (life verse)
“I believed in the Lord all my life and in 2001, I bought a house. It needed a LOT of fixing up. I worked on it a little at a time because my son, Patrick, had cancer of the brain. I took care of him until his death on Feb. 2, 2005. I had no place to go, but the Lord told me to go to my house, in East Austin off of Pedernales Street.
In my house, there was no gas, no insulation, no floors and no electricity! I called every program I could for help, and they all said NO, but I NEVER gave up. One day I saw a sign on Chestnut that said “CPA” and I called. The Lord sent me a guardian angel, Terry Brock, and the changes have made me so happy! Thank the Lord!”
Dinease does not know the word “quitter.” She has faced much adversity, but she keeps moving forward. She even has a disability, but she still works part-time, driving for Capitol Metro.
She makes friends very easily and it shows whenever a team of volunteers goes to her house to serve. She likes to fix sandwiches for the volunteers and the excitement she shows when she talks to anyone about her house is contagious. Several volunteers have continued contact with Dinease.
“I’ve known Christ since I was little,” he says, gesturing with his hand towards his knees, “And I’ve grown in my faith as I’ve grown,” he continues gesturing at intervals until he reaches shoulder level.
Paul spends the better part of his days around Mission Possible. Sometimes he is sitting at the picnic tables. Sometimes he looks up, smiles and says, “God Bless You,” to those passing by. He’s usually alone.
He feels called to be a caretaker at NYACC. When asked what is his favorite part of God’s creation – the sky, the trees, people, he says, “All of it.” He picks up trash on the sidewalk, mows the grass, and trims bushes. “People don’t respect God and the church,” he comments as he works.
He also keeps an eye on the parking lot. Tim Sr. has told him it’s not his responsibility but again, Paul feels people should respect the church. “The homeboys come to see what they can see, if they can find a tool or weedeater or CD in a car. They take it to the pawn shop and sell it for $25, $50, $100. If they were in Iraq, they don’t play that.” He gestures as if cutting off fingers. “So many people don’t think God is important but they’ll see when we’re called before him.” When asked how he came to pass his days at NYACC, he said Duane came to him a long time ago. “At the park, on South Congress.” Duane is a true Christian in Paul’s estimation.
Every Tuesday afternoon and Sunday morning you can find me riding my bike to NYACC or Church Under the Bridge in down-town Austin. It is about a 10 mile trip and takes me about 1 1/2 hour. You see, I live in a bus at Pole Cat Hollow with the Pinsons, and life is good. But it wasn’t always this way.
In 1994, I was released from prison. I had only served 18 months of a 10 year sentence that I got after having a fight with my son in which I broke his finger – we were both drunk. But, he was just 16 and I was 52. I received a very harsh sentence and was never asked my side of the story, so I just took it. After all, my life was filled with abuse and distrust, so when another thing hits you, you just drop your head and take it. Little did I know that God had something great in store for me.
In 2004, when I was discharged from the State Pen, they dropped me off in Austin. Depressed and suicidal, I was left cold and afraid behind the old Safeway store at 12th and I-35. I checked in at MHMR and told them that if I didn’t get help, I was going to kill my self. The only thing they could give me is medication because I was diagnosed as bi-polar, and that is what they do with people like me.
My life began to change when someone at MHMR told me about Church Under The Bridge. Now I know I am a follower of Christ, and I am learning to depend on Him more every day, My prayer is that I will be able to go back to my family and tell them what God has done for me. I would like for my grandchildren to be able to go to Camp Nikos this summer, because I hope to be there myself. Not as a camper, but as a helper. The kids at camp call me Uncle Charlie. I like that. – Charles Mayfield