Trying to find my brother is like playing a horrible game of hide and seek. He's hidden out there somewhere with no evidence of where he's been. There are no signs that he's moved or that he was in the location we think he's been. He hasn't left traces of himself to lead us to where he is. Being the seeker means taking on a detective role without any clues. Or very few.
I've been reading the book Falling Free by Shannan Martin. Don't read it unless you really want to be challenged by a family who simply followed God in ways that look so foreign to us in the middle-class but has resulted in learning more about who God is. (In other words, go read it! It's a quick, amazing read.) As I read about the kids brought into her life through different circumstances, I kept thinking of my brother Jim. We have continued to pray for him every night. I've continued to think about and look at various websites that might lead to finding a trace of him. Until today.
Today I did a google search for 'feeding homeless savannah ga.' I simply wanted to get a contact number of someone I could talk to about Jim. The Old Savannah City Mission came up and after looking through the site, I decided that I needed to call them. I said a quick prayer that I wouldn't cry through the entire phone call. And dialed. The conversation went something like this:
P (person): Hello. The Old Savannah City Mission. How should I direct your call?
M (me): Hi. My name is Jessica. I have an odd circumstance and am honestly not sure who to talk to. My family is looking for my brother Jim and we know he was in the Savannah area at some point but we don't know where he is and are trying to figure out where he might be so we can contact him.
P: Ok. Let me get you to other person.
Transfers to OP (other person)
OP: Hello. This is other person.
M (me): (repeats similar statement)
OP: Let me give you to another other person.
Transfers to OOP (other other person)
OOP: Hello. This is other other person.
M: (repeats statement again)
OOP: Well, let me at least look in our database online to see if he is possibly in the local detention center here. (I give him Jim's name and info) He's not registered in the detention center here - no record found.
M: I know that he was in one of the tent cities in Savannah at one point.
OOP: If he's in the tent cities, then he is likely not at a shelter. Most of the people in the tent cities don't come into the shelters for a variety of reasons.
M: Oh ok. That makes sense. I know that many shelters require people to be sober and detoxed.
OOP: Not necessarily. They do require that the people are not intoxicated or high. It doesn't mean that they don't do things. They just don't do them while at the shelter. There are shelters that are wet shelters where they don't turn away people who are intoxicated or high. There are liabilities and such things.
M: That makes sense.
OOP: I would recommend calling the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless. They will likely not be able to give you any information, but may be another helpful source.
M: Thank you. (Get number and info)
OOP: Our records here are still paper forms and it is tedious and time consuming to go through them to find someone. Especially someone that you haven't seen in several years. However, I'd like to help you. Let me go through our files for the last four months and look to see if he's at least been here during that time. Call me on Friday to let me know what the Authority says and I'll be able to let you know if he was ever here.
M: Thank you. I know that God has a plan for him and that as long as he's alive, there's hope.
OOP: Yes ma'am. I pray you find him. I can only imagine how I would feel if it were my brother.
M: Thank you.
**Deep breaths, teary eyes... I call the Chatham-Savannah Authority before I think too long about it.
CSA: Hello. This is the CSA for the Homeless. How may I direct your call?
M: Hi. My name is Jessica and I'm trying to find my brother. I know that he is homeless and I'm trying to figure out where he is.
CSA: We can't give out information about the whereabouts of your brother. His information is confidential and we are not allowed to give out any information regarding homeless people. Unless it is local authority, police who are looking.
M: How do you find someone who is homeless? How would I go about finding someone who is homeless?
CSA: Well, I guess the homeless person would contact their people.
CSA: You might consider searching for him as a missing person. Have you made a missing persons report?
M: Oh - I hadn't thought of it in that way... we haven't.
CSA: That may be a way to find him.
I thank them and end the call. It's such a tricky maze. If a homeless person doesn't want to be found, they are protected and no information can be given out. Do other families have homeless family members that they can't find or are we alone in this crazy situation? How do you get in touch with someone who doesn't want to be found? Or does he hope to be found, but can't get to us? And does that even make sense?
Thankful for these people that gave me more information about the system. Now to continue pressing forward to finding him and accepting that he may not want to be found. Doesn't everyone want to be found?