Shared Stories

Living In The Dust And Dirt!

(An observation by a volunteer, posted 10/26/2023)

As we turn off the highway and on to the dusty dirt roads into the desert leading to the homeless camps set back, away from the mainstream of normal society, exposed to the very dusty, dry and extreme heat, we see people of all ages struggling to survive living exposed to the raw eliminates, much like we see in third world countries and worse. Every person there is a tragic story of lost and suffering humanity. I can see Jesus weeping over their condition, sheep without a shepherd.  Most are weak, sick in body, mind , and spirit. I have never seen anyone strong–they have fallen far without hope of ever getting up again. You see the scars of sin, in the lines of peoples’ faces and their ravaged bodies of infection and disease from years of untreated exposure.  It is mixed: some are physically crippled, pregnant women, and all are filthy. Some come out of incarceration (prison and jail) and go straight to homelessness. For some it’s been a slower step down. You also see veterans mixed into the large population of this tragic subculture.  At this stage it does not matter how they got here– they are here, and unless they get help, they will in all likelihood die here– all that will remain is to pick up the bodies.

If a person is speeding in a car, it crashes and that person is severely injured, you don’t arrive at the scene to lecture them that it was their fault for speeding, you help them , and talk about it after they are stabilized and recovering–showing compassion. You see people drowning in alcohol and drug use. There is a lot of mental illness. These people should have never been put out on the streets to begin with, (not able to manage their own medication and psychological and physical treatments) they need teams of people to assure their safety and well-being. They are not at fault for their disabilities! They need help! No resources! No fresh water! No bathrooms! No showers! No electricity! No AC! No heat at night! No anything–just the darkness that creeps in at night, sleeping in the dirt and dust hoping they will survive another night.

We haul in supplies, and they come and line up–most times timid and thankful. We try to build their self-esteem by treating them with understanding, kindness and love. We let  them pick what they want–we serve by bagging for them the choices they make and asking if they would like to pray–most do. We walk through the camp in two’s, letting them know we are there and they are welcome to come, almost everyone answers from within the tents and make-shift shelters. They express their gratitude as they come and gather their food and hygiene items. We wish we had more to give to help meet more of their needs. The greatest thing we give is the message of the gospel. We try to comfort and relieve some of the pain they suffer living cast off in the dust and dirt in the heat of the day and cold of the night. The rain and the wind, comes and goes, and the poor we always have with us. The Good Samaritan shows us an example of whatever you have done to the least of these , Jesus said, you have done to Me!  We don’t do it because of guilt, shame, or even duty, we do it because of love; but for the grace and mercy of God, there go I.

We go twice a month, while they remain with no place to go, and no way out, most not knowing where to begin to get the help they know they need. We bring a little relief to help them get through the day. Every once in a while a few manage to get out. Hallelujah! It’s the beginning of a new day! If you have ever been homeless you will understand more than most. We need help! Pray, support, come on out. We appreciate everyone and their contribution, attention and time they give–for myself personally,  I realize while others suffer I live in complete comfort–my reality!  I get to go home, while the homeless remain homeless with no place to call home, only comforted by wondering dogs and the birds flying overhead, while others never know what’s happening out in the middle of the desert, not that far away.

Rob Anderson


My Fractured Story

The beginning of the end of my old life was in the fall of 2004 in the 8 year of a relationship with a woman.  We were both in out fifties and I thought this was the last one; we would retire together and live happy ever after. Well I did anyway.  We had purchased a big lot and built a home on the beach in Costa Rica….I had it all, all my dreams come true.

In the late 80’s I trained as a massage therapist and that is where my spiritual journey began.  However it had nothing to do with Jesus. I was not raised in any way a Christian. As an adult I viewed Christians as those who went and protested at the funeral of gay men who died of aids-that’s how I viewed all Christians. I was very attracted to Native American spirituality, New Age stuff, etc.  I always knew that spirit guided my hands with my bodywork, that my work fed me as well as the person I was working on.  My partner was more into Wiccan stuff.  One of the houses we lived in Minnesota was in the country on a river…a beautiful place, nature abound.  At our river house we created a big medicine wheel in the yard with a fire pit in the middle of it.  We would hold ritual activities there on certain occasions such as solstice, etc.  Lots of people would come there.  Over time my partner got more and more into Wiccan stuff and some website so many others were drawing off of.  It turned me off really; something was not right with this.  I felt myself drawing back, but I really did not know why or even that I was drawing back. Years went on like this.

Then one day my partner dropped a bomb on me.  It was a horrible ugly breakup.  I lost my dream relationship and the house on the beach in Costa Rica.  At this point I slammed the door on relationships and spirituality so tight and nailed with 2 foot nails.  I got enough out of the deal to move to Tucson in December of 2007and start a new life.  I found a great job as manager of Papa Murphy’s Pizza (my favorite food group).  Things were looking up.  I was told that I would become general manager as more and more stores with built.  Then one day another bomb got dropped on me. In 2010 I got fired for something I believe my boss did… That did it, I flipped out completely….this was the complete end of my old live.

The beginning of my new life began. I knew this guy that lived nearby. He would create receipts for Wal-Mart on his computer and walk out with all sorts of things. So I joined him…this was my new job now. In 2001 I had developed an extreme case of restless leg syndrome along with involuntary limb movement. After about a year of this I went to a doctor who put in on Mirapex, a Parkinson’s disease medication.  At that time no one knew of the side effects that can happen with this medication.  It had the ability to make people do things they would never otherwise do. It has also had its effect on my memory and thought processes-which I still do not trust completely.

Anyway I who at the age of 59 decides to start shoplifting.  I was always pretty good at things I did, so it was with my new career.  Over a 2 year period I was arrested 3 times-all felony charges. The 3rd time’s the charm. They would not even look at my mitigating circumstances. I spent 7 months in the county jail and 19 months in prison.  I am not going to go into how horrible it was in these places that are controlled by Satan.  However within all this there are the most amazing ministries.

When I had been in the jail for about a month or so Jesus finally did it.  There was a 19 year girl there who held prayer circles just before lights out every night.  I attended a couple as I had been spiritual before.  Well this young gal loved Jesus so much she convinced me…me…what!  Miracle #1.  So it began. I started attending services and bible studies there.  It made such sense, it was all so easy.  No complicated rituals to perform, no properties of different crystals to remember.  Just believe and love.

During my time away I had a lot of time to think about past times. It occurred to me that God just might have yanked me out of the relationship I was in because of the false god things I was getting into.  Then still years went by with me continuing to miss Him.  So He pulled a last resort thing and locked me away where I could hook up with a kid who changed my life.  His great lengths uh!

For over a year locked away I suffered with my restless leg issue…I barely slept the whole time.  They did not treat restless leg in the system. Don’t get me started on the medical issues in these places.  I would lay awake crying and begging God to please help me…heal me.  Well little by little it started getting better, now it is pretty much completely gone.  Miracle #2.

Over a year before my last arrest I had joined a class action lawsuit on the Mirapex medication for what it was doing to my life.  I got enough money out of it to put down on an acre property out in Picture Rocks.  Three months before I got arrested for the last time I moved out there.  Well I spent much time in prison to freak out about this…if I lost this I would never have the money again to get another dream like that.  My very good friend Carol tried to save it for me, tried finding a renter.  She moved my personal items out of there, a ton of work I can never repay her for.  Then finally she found one.  A young woman with a couple small kids.  Well this turned out to be a nightmare as she never paid any rent.  Carol had a hard time getting her out of there.  These people trashed the place.  So there it was 26 months locked up with no mortgage payments made.  As much as it hurt I was staying on God’s path, trusting His will knowing that I would be ok.  Oh yea, one other thing is that I had my dog Amaru-my baby with me when I got arrested and he went to the pound.  This broke my heart more than anything else ever could.

Well finally it was time to go home.  December 24th 2014 I was released.  I went straight to Carol’s house where I spent about 6 months.  She is an amazing, loving and giving friend.  I don’t know what I would have done without her.  I think it took me about a week to call Steve the guy I bought my property from.  It was the hardest phone call I ever had to make.  But I needed to make amends with him.  Miracle #3…Steve and his business partner Mark gave me the property back.  OMG!!  How could this be?  I am not worthy!  Oh God my savior, my redeemer, how he loves!

The next day Carol and I went out to my place, I just couldn’t wait to see it again.  It is so beautiful out there.  Well as great as it was to be there…well the thing is the people who squatted out there took all the appliances – the hot water heater, the front door, a ceiling fan, my window a/c, washer and dryer, even the kitchen sink!  Oh Lord how am I going to get the money to replace all this?   Back peddle…oh yea a bit.

It took me a bit over a month upon my release to find Casas.  Miracle #4.  I brought Carol with me and we both felt at home right away.  Everyone was so friendly…and the 10 minute connection is brilliant…instant connection.  We took the new member class, Ray and Carol’s What’s Next Class, we also both attend a bible study on Wednesday afternoon, now we are both in the Sunshine ABF.  I volunteered for various projects at Casas, I love that.  I have a desire to get involved with a group that helps the homeless or something like that. I have been so busy getting my mobile home back to living condition.  In May 2015 I finally moved back to my property with my new dog Moki. My sister Sharon and her dog Zoey moved in that August, which is such a good thing.

I found both a mattress set and a frig for $100 each. Got a dryer for free from a Casas member.  I still need a washer and a shed…but I know they will come. Miracle #5. Again I’m not worthy.  Praise the Lord.  I also received some major miracles through the benevolence ministry at Casas.  I feel like a walking billboard for God as I go around telling folks about all these things/miracles that have happened in my life.

I November 2015 I got baptized. That has made a great difference in me that I can feel.  It’s supernatural. Life is great, God is good! Of course it’s not all peaches and cream. There have been lots of health issues and doctor appointments with my sister along with a couple of $300 electric bills that put us in a financial bind.  Things happen…but faith gets you through it.  We will get back on track financially. For my birthday this past February my very good friend from Colorado came to visit.  One of the many she did for me was to get me a shed for my birthday!  Miracles can come out of nowhere.

Well my words are getting lost now.  I thank God and bless Casas and all the people that work and attend there.