Mike and I pulled into the parking lot of Sam and Lamin's apartment building at 8 a.m. Even though we were half an hour early, Lamin sat on the sidewalk, expectantly waiting, and jumped up when he saw me step out of the car. Neighbors and the apartment maintenance guy stood around him, making sure he had everything--a bag, his toiletries, his "papers". Lamin was ready to do the thing he told me he wanted to do. He was ready to get clean.
Lamin crumpled to the sidewalk again as weakness washed over him. Tiny beads of sweat formed from the pores on his face. "That all that gin coming out," remarked one neighbor. "I hope he stay in, but you just wait 'til he get that check at the first of the month. He gone be checking hisself outta that place and gone spend up that whole check just like he always do. He always spend it up on that drink, and people be takin' the rest before the rent man come 'round."
I assured them that I planned to remain involved to encourage Lamin and help hold him accountable throughout the process. The neighbors who had known him so long wanted to have hope--there was a sparkle of it in their eyes--but they dared not speak of it. They told me stories of his drinking so much that he passed out in the parking lot of the store next door. "He was just laying there, the antses just crawlin' all over him. An' one time the ambuhlance had to come pick him up in that same parking lot." They said he wasn't always like that, but the last five to six months had been bad. He had done nothing but drink.
Mike started the car, and I walked Lamin over to it. He tried to get into the back seat, but I insisted he sit in the front where the AC would blow on his face. "Thank you. Thank you," he whispered as he eased into the seat. Someone called, "Wait...let me get his bible," then returned with a small, leather-bound KJV with some initials stamped on it (no "L" or "K").
We arrived at the Salvation Army and drove around back to "Intake". The parking lot attendant waved me into a spot then I helped Lamin from the car and directed him into the small foyer that had a few simple chairs and a large reception window where two men stood. I recognized one from the day before, and the other was introduced to me as Daniel, the director. Lamin sat quietly while I explained his situation. Daniel asked Lamin if he had a driver's license or a Medicaid card.
"No, it was stolen. Here, this is all I have.--my Social Security." He pulled a worn, green debit card from the pocket of the pants I'd seen him wearing for four days now.
"Where are your papers, Lamin?" I asked then typed into my phone when he couldn't read my lips.
"They are all there in my bag. All of my papers are there."
I opened his overnight bag and pulled a plastic zippered bag from it as Daniel came around to the foyer. He looked through the wad of papers while speaking. "He's bad off--I could tell that while I was watching him get out of the car. And I can smell it on him."
"I'm not sure when he had his last drink," I replied. "One of the neighbors seemed to think he'd already been drinking this morning, but I don't think he has any money to get anything. And he was sweating and uncomfortable when I picked him up."
"You can tell he's in pain. He's not in control of his life right now. The alcohol's in control; it's master over him and he has no choice but to obey. When you go so many months drinking like that, it does things to the body. He needs intensive treatment where the control can be broken, either through the treatment or through deliverance. Me, I believe it takes deliverance."
Daniel finally located a paper he could use for identification. "Is this his name?"
"Yes. Lamin is his first name, and Kabba is his last."
"We're going to call the Lake [hospital] to come get him. They'll admit him to the Tau Center where they do a medical detox then they will get him to a place that has a 28-day program."
The director walked back to the office to get the process started, and I knelt by Lamin. "They are going to help you here."
"Okay. How long? Maybe like two months?" he asked.
"I don't know. Maybe one to two months." I typed it on my phone.
"Will you come to visit me?"
"I'm not sure if they will let me now, but when they tell me I can visit, I will come."
I looked into the office, "He doesn't have any family or anyone. Should I leave my number with him or...?"
They took my name and number and assured me they would call to update me.
I knelt again, and Lamin read my lips and nodded as I assured him, "You're going to be okay."
I held my hands out and he took them so I could pray for him. All office noises stopped as I called on God, our Great Healer, to be with Lamin and to remove from him the desire to drink.
I, too, believe it takes deliverance.
There were tears in Lamin's eyes as I typed to him, "I am your friend. I am here because I care. I love you, Lamin."
"Thank you. Thank you." He nodded as the tears dropped. He turned his eyes to Mike and said, "Thank you," as he extended his hand. Mike shook it and then I gave him a hug.
I looked in his eyes one more time, and for the first time he smiled.
"I'll see you soon."
Today I received a call from the social worker at the Tau Center at OLOL. She had just finished talking to Lamin when my call came through to make sure he had my contact info. She said tomorrow (5/4) she would hear from "staff" and they would give her an estimated discharge date, which could be as early at Thursday (5/5). She was not sure where to place him after discharge.
I have visited and called several resources today. Our main hurdle is not finding an inpatient clinic to accept him, but finding an interpreter. Lamin is deaf, and even though he can speak, read lips, and communicate via reading and responding, he doesn't fit into that neat box of someone who knows sign language. Most clinics know how to get an interpreter, but the ones I've spoken to aren't sure where we can find the right one for him.
Please pray that tomorrow doors will be opened for me to find an interpreter who can work with an inpatient clinic. I know God will work this out, but I believe He wants to use lots of people coming together to make this work.
If you know of any resources that work with hearing impaired in the Baton Rouge area, please contact me with specific information.
Be sure to check out Part 2 of this story.