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This morning started out early,  but  later than yesterday, much to our relief. The first thing we did was revisit the Boy’s and Girl’s Club.  We had spent as little time yesterday picking out some of our favorite games to play with several groups of kids at various ages, and spent the morning running, laughing and playing the chosen games with them. Some of the games we played were classics, like capture the flag and sharks and minnows, and others newer, like dragon tag and ninja. After, we tired teens grabbed our lunch boxes and went to Franklin Park to eat and relax.

We then reported back to the church to pick up some plants and helpers to come with us to the SAFE house, where we spent the entirety of the afternoon, collecting sticks, planting flowers and plants, building fence, picking up sticks and rocks around the property, pushing wheelbarrows with rocks, sticks, mulch or people, and laying down newspaper and mulch to stop weeds from popping up again. Loosely experiencing what it would be like to be a landscaper for a while.  Tired and very dirty, we went to the Lewis’  home where we enjoyed a delicious meal and laughed together as children of God, happy to experience a week of serving and loving his people and ready for the work coming tomorrow.

2012 Mission Trip Day 3

Posted: June 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

After hitting the snooze button on my alarm multiple times, I eventually made it to the church at 8:15, ready to head out to Asheville to prepare and serve a meal for 300 people.  For the first two days of our mission trip, we had been spending the afternoons preparing a meal for both the homeless and other indigent people.  We worked hard to make chicken and rice casserole, along with a salad, green beans, and mud pie.  Bracken Mountain Bakery even donated bread for us to serve.  As you can imagine, cooking for 300 people takes a bit of work.  We had to buy 15 chickens from Food Lion just in order to create the casserole!

Today, we headed over to Asheville to the Haywood Street First United Methodist Church, where The Welcome Table takes place.  This program provides a free meal for anyone, no questions asked.  It is a place where anyone is allowed to come eat a free meal and converse with others.  Though the Welcome Table doesn’t technically begin serving lunch until 11:30, the moment I arrived at 9:00, many zealous volunteers were serving doughnuts and coffee to anyone who came through.  As I began to help these volunteers, I immediately noticed the sense of community between the volunteers and the people who were coming in for a meal.  Volunteers knew the people by name and carried on easy conversation with them.  At some points, it was impossible to tell who was volunteering from who was there for a meal.  Everyone there was thankful and lovely to talk to.  I felt as though I had made many new friends in just a short period of time.

After the meal, there is an optional worship service that anyone is welcome to attend.  It was a really neat experience for our youth group today, as it was discussion oriented.  The pastor read a scripture and then anyone in the congregation was able to share  his or her interpretation of what was read.  It was interesting to hear different perspectives and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned from everyone who spoke.

After our experience at the Welcome Table, we headed out for ice cream at the Marble Slab.  We then headed back to Brevard and cleaned up the kitchen, as it had been heavily used as we planned and cooked our meal.  After we had finished up at the church, we headed to the Witherspoon’s house for dinner and fellowship.  We talked about our day and what had really stood out to us as we served the less fortunate in Asheville.  One of my favorite moments from my time at the Welcome Table was when a middle-aged African American came up to me and told me that he was playing the organ for the church service.  He shared with me that he was nervous that the congregation would not like his organ playing, as it was not what they were used to.  I reassured him and talked to him a little bit about music.  Later, as the church service ended, I watched him approach the organ and begin to play “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”  He had the biggest smile on his face and was overjoyed to be playing this piece and using his wonderful talent to glorify God.  Everyone was smiling and clapping while he played.  As I watched him, I could just tell that he was overflowing with the Spirit and I made sure to go up to him and tell him what a great job he did.   He beamed as he told me thank you, and it was one of those moments that I really felt God working through other people.

Our day today was very eventful and profound.  I look forward to see what God does in our lives over the next two days as we continue our mission trip.

Allison

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We started off the second day of our mission trip with a devotional led by Allie Williams along with the quick rundown day. We then made our way over to the Boys and Girls club for the second day in a row.

Today’s work began with a bit differently then yesterday’s because today was the very first day of their summer program. They put us in the “harvest” group where we spent some quality time with some of the kids. We participated in a fun dancing name game before helping to lay down hay in the garden to keep the weeds that we plucked from growing again. The groups came back together to play a version of captains coming before wishing us farewell.

Today for lunch we went to silvermont where after a discussion about old childrens shows we began games of freeze tag and infection.

The church was our next destination in order to help prepare for the much anticipated meal planned for tomorrow. There was chicken to be stripped, lettuce to be shredded, lettuce to be washed, and lettuce to be dried. I had a great time with the lettuce today. We prepared as much as we could for the time being as we won’t have a lot of time in the morning to finish.

After leaving the church we went to the McLeod’s for lovely taco meal. We took some time to talk about the thorns and roses of the day including some hand burning to holding hands with the little kids. It was a terrific but tiring day and I can say at least for myself I’m looking forward to another.

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Today was our first day together on the 2012 youth Mission Trip. We all met bright and early, at least it was rather early for all of us who had become used to late summer mornings, to run over the plans for the day and to share in a morning devotional led today by Eliza Witherspoon. Then we all loaded up for a short drive over to the Boys and Girls Club to begin our day.

Upon arrival we split up into two groups, one group went inside to scrub tables and the other group stayed out to clean three school buses. We spent the rest of the morning with water, bleach, soap, and scrubbers cleaning every bit of dirt and grime that had been accumulating for an indeterminable amount of time so that everything would be prepared for the beginning of the summer programs tomorrow at the Boys and Girls Club. Once we had cleaned every corner that we could we moved on to weeding the garden at the Boys and Girls Club until it was time to pack up and move over to Silvermont for a lunch break.

We had a nice lunch at Silvermont and took some time to reminisce at an old favorite playground with a couple of games, like a variation on hide-and-go-seek. Afterward we had dessert at Sonic then regrouped back at the church.

At the church we split up into three groups to begin tackling the big meal we will serving in Asheville on Wednesday for about 300 homeless and hungry people. Each group took the afternoon to plan, go and buy supplies, and begin preparing a part of the meal. Earlier in the day at the Boys in Girls Club during our time in the garden we were offered some of their greens to use in our meal, so not only will some of our meal be local and fresh, but the help that we’ve given to community has already started to give back to us.

Afterward the Borhaugs fed us dinner by the lake in Connestee and we swam and ate and took some more time to play on another playground. We all grouped up at the end of the day to share favorite moments from throughout the day and leave with a prayer. It was a busy day, full hard work, but I can confidently say that we all had fun working together and are looking forward to whatever the rest of the week will bring.

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Sunday morning we woke up bright and early to a good nights sleep, some of us even a bit chilly from the unusual change of having air conditioning at night.  After saying our final goodbyes to the Heifer Ranch, we hit the road ready to go. Within 30 minutes of driving, we were forced to pull over due to discovering a screw in the tire of the Black Vulture.(Our small black  Ford Flex)  After patching it up at a roadside gas station, we turned the caravan around to head back towards a Walmart vehicle service center.  Because it was still rather early in the morning, we decided while we waited in the parking lot of the Walmart Super Center, we would all take a quick nap. Finally we all returned to our cars, and headed to an Enterprise to avoid an hour wait at Walmart.  This was sadly the Black Vultures final flight, before retiring.  After switching cars at the airport, we finally got on the road to drive on.  But just when we thought things were looking up, the “turtle shell” luggage carrier on the top of the “Daddy Van” or “Swagger Wagon”, started to get loose and move around, therefore we again had to pull off the road to secure it.  After this stop, we FINALLY got on the road again, after praying multiple times for safer travel.  Eventually, we all woke up to the hollering of our drivers, who were overjoyed to have finally left Arkansas and entered Tennessee, ONLY 2 hours behind schedule.

Shortly after, we stopped for a tasty lunch at Dyer’s, a hamburger joint on Beale St. in downtown Memphis.  After letting the buckets of grease we had all consumed at lunch set in, we headed back down the road. Within less than an hour of driving, we had to make a pit-stop, due to the large amounts of soft drinks everyone had enjoyed at lunch.  We continued travel in a similar pattern until we finally reached our stop for the day, a town not far past Nashville, TN.  Tired and hungry, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner.  Shortly after reaching our hotel, the whole group was enjoying the indoor pool and spa.  After partaking in an intense session of water aerobics, the group retired for the night, exhasuted from a hard days travel.   We wrapped up the night with pleasant devotions reflecting on the past 9 days experiences.

But of course, the night was still young.  We then made a group trip to the vending machines located in the lobby, and experienced multiple monetary difficulties. Finally, with the help of a strong worker,                                                    our candy was violently shakin out of the machine, and retrieved by the buyer.  All in all, its been another great day on the road.  We can’t wait to get home and share our amazing experiences wih everyone.  See you soon!

We spent Friday morning at the Heifer Ranch participating in some games on the Low Challenge Course. These games were designed to work on team building and cooperation with one another, so that we could better get to know the other group from St. Louis that we would be spending the night in the Global Village with. One of our favorites was called Hoop Tag, a game that we will bring back to UMYF and play in the fellowship hall. 🙂

Friday evening we went into the Global Village. The Global Village is a simulation designed so that its participants may come to better understand what it’s like living in the shoes of people in extreme poverty. The Village consists of housing that imitated the conditions of Guatemala, Thailand, Appalachia, Tibet, Urban Slums, Zambia, and a Refugee Camp.  We were split between Guatemala, Appalachia, and Urban Slums.  Each of the groups was given a basket of resources to make dinner with.  Because the only group who had enough to feed themselves was Guatemala, we combined all of our resources to make a simple potluck dinner.   At night, we battled biting bugs and extreme heat, but we survived.

Saturday morning, everyone in our group woke up in different countries. Those of us living in the Urban Slums were required to make breakfast Saturday morning for the entire village. We awoke not by alarm clocks, but by the rising of the sun and ceaseless crowing of a rooster.  Because there were no cooking facilities in the Slums, we prepared the oatmeal for 33 people in the modest stove in the Guatemala house.  Though the meal was simple, there was just enough.  For many of us, it was a much smaller breakfast than we were accustomed to. As we completed chores in the Village such as washing dishes, sweeping, carrying wood, and gardening, our stomachs growled. Many of us were also very tired from the lack of sleep in uncomfortable conditions. Not to mention the 100 degree heat, even in the morning.

We concluded our Global Village experience with a debriefing session.   We reflected on how much we have to be grateful for. Sometimes the simple things, such as air conditioning, can be overlooked.  We were all thankful to have a home, a bed, and food to return to.  There are millions of people across the globe living in awful conditions every day.  Our group transitioned from having sympathy for these people, to having empathy.  Through the trials we went through in just one night, we bonded over how blessed we feel.  We were able to grow and learn because all of us (well, except maybe mountain man Andrew) were outside of our “comfort zone”. This has become a commonly used term on this trip. Getting outside of our comfort zone has pushed us and allowed us to see things from new perspectives, and develop newfound gratitude for our blessings.  I believe that now, some of us will think twice about things we may have felt entitled to before.    I am very appreciative that Heifer was able to offer us such a meaningful and eye opening experience. Also I believe that now we feel more called to improve others lives and to implement change in our own.

We spent Saturday afternoon undergoing more activities on the challenge course. Despite the extreme heat, we tried to stay good natured and upbeat. We were able to complete the challenges by working together and listening to each other.

Before we went to dinner, we spent some time with Goby the Camel. A few of us even got a kiss! Following dinner, we had devotions and popcicles to cool off. Our day ended with a good ol’ game of Mafia.

In sum, Friday and Saturday were challenging days, but all of us learned something new.

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