Over the week of July 16th, me and 17 other teenagers flew out on a plane to San Diego, California. Our mission- to help and serve the community (more specifically the refugee community). With five days of ministry work planned out, we were all ready to see God do some pretty great things.
I wrote a little on the first three days of the trip (accessible here), but my laptop was dead by Thursday. (Good job Jenna- you forgot to bring your charger.) So, here are some highlights on the rest of the week and just some overall thoughts on it all.
Thursday's activities were different than the previous days'. We started our day with lunch at Barrio Logan, a neighborhood in San Diego. This area in which is covered by interstates and pillars of concrete, is home to many of the homeless population of San Diego. Pairing up within our team, we walked around with sack lunches; Offering to eat and chat with the people of Barrio Logan.
For my partner and I, we gave out our sandwiches more than we talked. And nearing the end of our time, we had run out of food and had talked very little. But, praying that God would give us direction with our conversations, we were able to have a deep talk with a Ukrainian woman named Innochka right before we left. From what she told us, we learned that she used to be very rich and lived in a very big, expensive house with her husband. But when he died, she wasn't aloud to claim his fortune because of legal matters. Weeks after his death, she was forced to live on the streets with nothing but the clothes on her back. However, she was not as broken as most would be in that situation. All throughout our talk with her, she was kind, and encouraging. And as our conversation finished, she gave us wise words and encouragement to have gratitude for everything we are given. Whether it be the fact that we can even just think or hear or talk or breathe. In everything- we must be thankful.
Later that day we also had kids club, which was the same as the days before. But instead of having just kids at our club that day, we also had a new friend come and join us. His name was Saw. From what my teammate told us, Saw spoke very little english and had difficultly communicating with her at times. But over the hour that we had at the club, she was able to somewhat talk to him about the gospel and talk with him about Jesus. For having a language barrier with this guy, it was pretty awesome that she was still able to share Jesus with him.
9 AM sharp Friday morning began with distributing food to refugees in the area. Fruits, vegetables, packaged foods, and pastries were all passed out over a time span of about 4 hours. It was definitely hard work, but for many on the team, it was their favorite activity. And it's not hard to see why. Seeing the look on their faces, as we filled up their carts and told them to have a nice day, was unbeatable. Once 300+ refugees had made it through the line, you easily see the impact that we had on them after looking at how much food they took and their delight in having it all.
Nearing towards the afternoon we headed out to kids club for the last time. We were all sad to be leaving those amazing kids, but we took our last moments with them as an opportunity to love on them with even more of Jesus' love. The friendships and jokes that we created with those kids will definitely live on in my memory for a very long time.
Staring at my bright computer screen right now and thinking back on the incredible week I've had, it's hard to put my emotions into words. Happy, sad, encouraged, content- are just a few ways I feel right now. Happy that I had the experience that I had, sad that it's all over, encouraged to keep following Jesus with diligence, and content to be where I am and have what I have.
Walking out of the plane Saturday night with a team of 17 Jesus loving Christians by my side got me thinking about how much God is going to do through us. As we all waited at baggage claim for our things, I looked one last time at the people that I had come to know and love within the past week. Knowing them and knowing God, I can tell you with full confidence that amazing things are going to happen in the upcoming year.
Heart filled, eyes opened, mind refocused. Am I a new person? No. But there is no doubt in my mind that I have grown because of the past week that I spent giving up my time and energy to serving others.