Hello everyone. We are sitting on the plane, exhausted, waiting to come home. It has been an amazing week filled with so much it may be hard to remember everything I want to say, but I will try. The daily schedule was up at 5:30 am and in bed around 11:00 pm. It was literally non-stop from morning to night with no down time.
We were divided into two groups. Teresa had six of our kids. I had three of our kids and two kids from Bend, Oregon. Teresa’s group spent the week at the Tenderloin Boy’s and Girl’s Club. All I can say is picture the poorest of the poor areas and you will get an idea where it is located. They did amazing work with the kids teaching and playing with them. I will let Teresa cover more of their work.
My group spent three days at the All Nations Youth Ministry further south in SF. We helped a church with a large group of primarily Korean children. We had to help them with math, music, English and art classes. I helped James with the 4th and 5th graders. In math class they asked, “Can you help me with that question?” I would look at it and usually respond, “That’s math?” I would try to Google help with the question and usually the kid finished the problem in their head before I could figure it out. I felt like a contestant on “Our You Smarter than a Fifth Grader.” We also played with the kids all three days and I had to captain one of the teams for capture the flag every day.
On our last day there, our teenagers organized the morning worship. The subject was on the Ten Commandments. Our kids worked for two days picking songs, choreographing moves for the kids and preparing a short Bible study. The kids loved it, and I was very proud of our teenagers. At the end, we had to say good-bye to the kids which was very difficult. I feel more blessed than ever having been with them.
One of our days we went to a mission that fed elderly people in the neighborhood. We helped in the kitchen, handed out food and visited with the residents. We were forced by the staff to go into the Zumba class the elderly women were taking. This was like no Zumba I have ever seen. It was Hispanic and Asian women doing line dancing to Mariachi music. The women dragged myself and Josh on the floor and we had to dance several songs with them. We finished with everyone in the group doing the longest, most energetic line dance I have ever been in. My legs were sore for days. After the mission, we went to a food bank larger than any Costco and helped sort plums for distribution to local groups.
Our last day of service we had food left over from our group. We took the food, and Adam and James stood on the street and gave it away to the homeless and needy. The last person to get food was an elderly Jewish woman who asked the kids to pray with her. As James started the prayer, she stopped him and said, “Remember, I’m Jewish.”
This has been one of those experiences that I will carry with me and talk about forever. There was good and bad. Sitting in traffic, taking two hours to go 16 miles was not good. But listening to the kids connecting with the Youth Works leaders and randomly naming people in passing cars was awesome. Having a sunset service on a mountain was amazing. Sleeping in a room with 12 boys on air mattresses was, let’s say, an experience. Any conflicts the kids had were completely worked out between them with no interference from us. That shows a tremendous amount of maturity on their behalf. I am very proud of all of the kids and what they did this week.
As I close this, we are thirty minutes into our flight and the our kids are not sleeping. It was a flight with only 70 people, and although there were rows and rows of open seats, they all sat together. They are spending every last second together. Thank you to Community Lutheran Church of Escondido, for giving Teresa and I, the opportunity to spend a week with these teenagers in serving the community of San Francisco. We are truly grateful.