BY EMMA KIVELA
Living and serving in the Tenderloin has been an incredible opportunity for me. I’ve gotten to see so much growth in the teens who come to serve here, and it’s been truly amazing. I came here expecting to see a change in myself, our friends on the street, and the teams that we would be leading each week. What I didn’t expect, though, was how much this time would contribute to shaping the hearts of the people that I already had in my life - even before coming to the Tenderloin.
One day, in particular, I was meeting a friend in Berkeley. We were waiting outside in a long line to get ice cream when a homeless man approached us and started talking with us. He soon found out I was from Finland and he got so excited. He knew a lot about my country; the name of it in my language, Finnish history, and even the name of a minority group. It was so surprising to me to meet someone who knew so much about Finland. After we got our ice cream, he waited there for us and we continued talking for a long time afterward. This man was polite, well-spoken, and educated. On our way back from meeting him, my friend and I continued to talk about the encounter.
When I met up with my friend again a few weeks after the initial encounter, he told me he thinks about the man every single time he goes past the ice cream place. I never realized that my openness to serve God in the Tenderloin would also open the hearts and eyes of my friends.