I had a hero some years ago who ran a shelter for the homeless. As I got to know his place, I wished I could stay in one, to see what it was like.
An opportunity presented itself when my denomination had a convention in Texarkana some years ago. I dressed down, wore old clothes and checked into the shelter there. Later, as I was having dinner, a clergy friend of mine walked in with a woman from his church who wanted to share her testimony with those of us gathered there.
I signaled my friend not to blow my cover. The lady finished her talk, prayed for us and left. I spent the night on the floor and being the new person there I was assigned to mop the floor before leaving in the morning.
With that completed, I left, got my ride back to my motel to change into my clerical garb for the convention (felt a bit like superman), got the the convention, got in the coffee line and just in front of me was the lady who had spoken to us the night before.
The look on her face when she saw me was priceless, and so was my visit to a homeless shelter. It was a great experience, and one I will never forget. I learned more that night on the floor with others and sharing with them, than taking a course in homelessness.