Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Tomorrow mooring, please meet your Youthie at the Group Check-In where you dropped them off last saturday. We are doing this so that everyone brings home their bedding.
Flight Information: DL1508 to arrive at 10:34 AM in MSP
Thank you and see you tomorrow morning around 10:30!
I can't believe that Mission Trip 2011 is coming to a close. Overall, we had an amazing time here in Denver. I had the BEST work group by far (shout out to Super 8) and we visited three different sights throughout the week. By far, my favorite place we went was the Bridge Project. I was so impressed with the teacher at the Bridge Project. We need more teachers like the teacher at Bridge Project. He was so committed to his kids that he had just met, and he wants his kids to accomplish so much. Thank you for all the teachers out there, especially to my lovely sister who is teaching for the first time this summer. If all teachers were as committed as the Bridge Project teacher, the schools would be so much better.
Well that is all for now, thank you everyone for reading the Blog this Mission Trip!
We--school teachers, social workers, maybe parents?--are so used to defining people when we see them at their worst, most stressed out, etc. For example, there are plenty of articles on the fact that homeless children test as more depressed than other poor children. As a result, they can get a label and a treatment program. But U of M researcher has found that the depression is an artifact of being in the shelter--an unfamiliar, stressful experience at best. That the depression is temporary. Therefore, she recommends: don't test children for mental health disorders while they are homeless. This is such common sense, but it extends to so many other situations. When a family loses their housing for economic reasons (i.e. they couldn't pay the rent, had to move out) and after doubling up as long as possible with all the friends and family they have, ending up in a shelter--at what point do they become THE HOMELESS? When they get back into an apartment, are they still THE HOMELESS (in many social service programs, the answer is yes)?
So when we see someone in trouble, how do we prevent ourselves from labeling other people with their trouble? How do we separate out the trouble that is caused by a troubled situation, the trouble that we cause because of the way that we interact (or what we represent)? How do we look just as hard for other moments when the same person shows skill, insight, compassion, motivation?
Romeo may have a learning disability. He may have anger issues. But he is more than the sum of his limitations. Good to keep in mind, yes?
Thursday, June 23, 2011
At the end of the afternoon the staff and the volunteers gathered for a reflection on the day and I found myself almost too emotional to speak about my day. i was having trouble identifying why it was affecting me so. The project offered hope and that touched me. We were part of making a difference and that touched me as well. But, in thinking about it later, I found that the idea that some of these kids may never receive the gift of reading is what was making me so sad. The struggle to learn without good reading skills would mean many of them would not finish high school. The additional tragedy would be that they would never have the gift of reading for pleasure, never experience "curling up with a good book" or getting lost in the experiences of Huck Finn or Hans Solo or Harry Potter or Captain Nemo.
To sum up, my first mission trip was a success. I enjoyed bonding with the kids and the adults on this trip. I liked meeting the folks from the other congregations who worked with us. The staff from DOOR is wonderful, the people working at the agencies we served were great and the people we served were grateful and an inspiration to continue to do this kind of volunteqering at home. The fact that some of the work made me uncomfortable added to the experience in a positive way.
If the youth will have me along again next year, Sign Me Up.
The youths went out to a few of the usual places today (after 4 days we know our way around) -- food bank of the Rockies, brothers Redevelopment to paint, Bridge Project the literacy project. After dinner we went to red Rock, an amphitheater in the foothills placed among giant, well, red rocks. we were charged throughout the week to reflect upon seeing the face of God in Denver. We had our worship service and reflection in the Red Rocks, a several hundred foot hike up. The view of Denver and the plains to the east was breathtaking and included watching a T-storm way out onto the plains.
The youthies talked about the folks they met, a child at a program, the parents and grandparents who drop their kids at Bridge, a 75-year couple who volunteer three days a week, or a 15 year old in the projects who shared her only plan, to get away to West Virginia as the projects did not define her and never would define her. We have been honored to hear a lot of stories this week, we have heard them all week. And Antonio our leader has talked about that as a great responsibility. So we carry them back to St. Paul with them, and hope to be sharing them.
All are well, goodnight for now.
We have good news from Sunshine Academy. We found out that the little girl who was hurt on Monday (see Lilly Schafer's blog--is okay. The center director and her mom took her to the emergency room for treatment. We've been talking about the power of health care and who has access and who doesn't. This just pointed out what a difference health care makes for families and kids.
Yesterday I went to the Food Bank of the Rockies with Clara's team--Clara, Claire D, Henry, Sari and Julia. We helped put together the big distributions for groups and then spent the afternoon sorting chip bags. The supervisor then asked if we could help by sweeping and washing a warehouse floor--te team said "Yes" and took on a really grubby job. The supervior stopped me, shook my hand and wanted to tell me how great they were. I agree!
We are off to more projects, more people. Greetings to all,
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
On Tuesday we went to the love kitchen to serve food to the homeless. It was a small church and a small project, but I was glad to be there none the less. I remember the first man that came in, who sat in a corner, eating silently. There were too many of us for the job at that point and we were bombarding him with questions; do you need something to drink? Do you want some butter? Need any salt?
It soon became apparent that he was content with the meal and there was not much we could do for him. Slowly, we went back to our jobs. But as we continued working, I felt there was something left unfinished. Going back, I saw that he could use someone to talk to. And, bucking up my courage, i decided i was the one to do that.
I sat down and began making light conversation with this man, Peter.
"Where are you from?" I asked
And that's all that was needed (Nebraska is my home away from home). I learned that Peter and i had much more in common than i would have thought. I made a new friend that day, and i made someone smile. I will keep him in my prayers.
Later that day we went to the Sun Valley Neighborhood Projects in West Denver to hand out flyers for a barbecue at a local church (the Myx). I felt obnoxious at first, and was a little put-off when the first three houses i went to had their screen doors locked. Instead i met people on the street, talking to them and inviting them to the party. Generally, the people i talked to were very friendly. I was happy to see a few familiar faces turn up, and i made many new friends.
I met John, Mark and Paul (haha) in the line for the hamburgers, three adorable little brothers with a few teeth missing and huge smiles. I had a lot of fun with Mark, who would simply look around, smiling. I also got to talk to Devonte and Chris, two boys going into 7th grade who were already taller than me (what?!). I ate dinner in the play area behind the church with Jenae and her 4 siblings. I was inspired by the patience she had for the little siblings she had to look after, and her light spirit.
It seemed that every where i looked there were people happy to talk to me, people laughing, people playing, people opening up to strangers they may not have otherwise trusted. This building, blasting hip-hop, had not looked very much like a church to me, but as i looked around, and i saw these people, these perfect strangers and new friends, i saw God.
- Aidan C.
Wouldn't be able to help.
Because there would be no help to be done.
No smile at the sight of a toy care?
Of a cheerful wave, or caring,
Because they're already
The book The Giver always sticks out to me, because I think it's so TRUE.
Without one emotion, we can never really experience another.
But how can we not wish for a perfect world?
How can we see this hopelessness, and pain, and not realize that for each person we help, there are so many we ignore?
And yet it's so insane that we're able to not help.
Well it's 10:39 here, and I'm pretty sure lights out was nine minutes ago, so Ellie and I should really be getting to bed.
Goodnight all! Can't wait to see you on Saturday!
P.S. - Mom can you clean my room so I can sleep all day on Saturday? Caroline broke my bed.
P.S.S- Simon, your pants are on fire.
I spent most of my time their filling out client forms. The form itself gave a certain insight into who we were serving. The number of children, what kind of items they needed, and individual notes at the bottom of the sheet created images of a diverse number of people and families. Each one sitting down and having a meal.
We did a lot of driving that day. Eventually, though, we got to the small apartment building. His apartment really was tiny, and it made me realize how big the houses we call small are. The man wasn't there yet, but we started bringing things into the house. There was barely enough space for a small kitchen table and two armchairs, and there were only two rooms, one of which was the bathroom.
After we moved everything from the big truck into the appartment, we were just kind of waiting around. In the room, Edmund found a small yellow toy car. We had seen a couple of little kids next to who I assume was a single mom, and Edmund gave the young boy the little toy car. The thing I remember the most about yesterday was how happy that little boy looked. It reminded me that smaller things than furnishing a home can make someone feel happy.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
- Charlie p
Bless the food that we ate tonight for dinner. Bless the hands that prepared it. Bless the people who shared this meal with us, ESPECIALLY Lanae. She's fifteen, has six younger siblings, a single mother, and wants nothing more than her own apartment in West Virginia so that she can escape the prejudice and stereotypes she has to live with in the projects. She admitted that her father sells crack, and that part of leaving was getting away from him, and from a life she refuses to live. Please, please, take good care of her. She is the kind of girl who hugs strangers goodbye. Bless the refugee whose house I outfitted this morning with: a bowl, a light, a fan, a spatula, bedding, a bath towel, and a few forks and knives. Bless to our understanding the meaning of "bare essentials". We ask that you look over him on this, his first night in a new country.
We thank you, lord, for all the people who we met today who would make volunteering a part of their overwhelmingly busy lives. For Antonio, and Age, and TJ, and Horace. It is a noble life that they live. Watch over them tonight as they sleep. For the church that is housing us. I KNOW that we've ground cookie crumbs into their carpet. But I promise that for every crumb that I crushed by accident I packed a piece of furniture, or shot a basketball with the kids in the projects, or served a hot dog bun with great purpose.
Finally, keep an eye out for me. I'm trying my hardest not to faint this week, and I'm doing some of the best work I've ever done. Tom keeps telling us to carry stories with us; that to know someone's history is an honor. I have many more to gather.
Just a quick post tonight. Basically today we went to this barbaque in the Denver projects. The houses in the projects are simple and well kept on the outside, not really what I was expecting. We passed out fliers for the neighborhood barbaque once the barbaque was in full swing, we got to play with the kids who showed up to the barbaque. The barbaque was amazing and was the perfect completion to my day.
What I came away with today is that we cannot forget about the kids in the projects. We often think about the problem causing parents and we rarely think about the children. These kids did not chose their living situations and we cannot forget them. So tonight please keep these children in your thoughts. They need someone to think about them in a positive way, someone to believe that they can make a difference in the world and that they really do matter as they are our future leaders.
Today team 8 (Claire D, Julia S, Clara D, Sari O, and me) along with Marge and Suzanna worked at the Love kitchen at Redeeming Love church. The church has a congregation of only 35 people! 5 of which are men!!!! For the last 20 years they have served people from the community (the homeless or people just going through hard times) lunch 3 days a week. It was great to help serve and plate food. We also had conversations with them. In total, 8 people came in to eat. 3 men, 3 women, and 2 kids (two very cute 2nd graders).
The man running the kitchen today was Deacon Henry, a very spiritual guy who has worked in the kitchen for almost as long as it has been around. He was very into praying for everything and when we were sitting around he practically gave us an hour long sermon incorporating anecdotes and bible stories. His "grand baby" Jessica also helped out.
The one person who really touched me there was a man who Marge and I talked to named Rick. This man has been homeless for one year. When his mom was dying he was there helping her, but after her death, Rick's sister swept in and put her name on the deed to their mom's home. He had no where to go. Yesterday it rained and he told us how miserable it was to sleep outside and how his sleeping bag would be wet for the next week. He did not try to cover much up, he told us about the violence that takes place on the streets and the alcohol abuse he sees everyday. He even told us about his criminal record. He paused, took off his sunglasses so we could see his eyes. He was crying. He told us flat-out that he was suffering.
Despite his situation and his daily struggles, he believed that these struggles were going to pass and that God would help him if he was faithful to his lord. The world may have taken his house, money, and job, but what it hadn't taken was his self-respect. He told us about how staying clean to him was extremely important, and that he wouldn't enter a church if he was dirty. He still had his intelligence and his heart. he was a "survivor" and knew that if he could keep on going things would someday work out. Before he left we exchanged a hug and he told me to pray for him, and I would encourage everyone reading this to pray for Rick.
Monday, June 20, 2011
A couple of points stand out.
The Gathering Place welcomes all. No conditions. And clients do not have to join a case management system or otherwise Be subjected to anyone who will try to fix them. And no one have to prove anything to get services.
Another is that 50 percent of the homeless in greater Denver are women, and she had a theory about why most folks are surprised to hear that. When we see a Homeless guy on the street, we can construct a narrative about him. Bad choices or bad luck or bad health. We have seen enough homeless men that we are accustomed to the sight. But. Homeless woman and two toddlers? We can construct no easy explanation or no narrative that we can live with. So we put them out of our mind. And then we don't see them.
So, just getting started but we have seen and learned so much already. And we are hearing, again, that it is not us and them it is always us and us. All of us. Children of God and worthy of love.
Lights out, so more tomorrow. All are well, thanks for your love and support.
Miss everyone at home! Hope the thunderstorms aren't freaking out the doggie anymore. i love you all. <3
Today, while packing boxes at the food shelf, I struck up a conversation with my partner, another woman volunteer. She was volunteering with an addict program and told me her story of slowly becoming an alcoholic and her realization that her life was out of control. As she spoke, I had this mounting sense of pride for her. In my lifetime,Ii have met a few addicts, but even fewer who admit to it, or believe that they can fight their way out of it.
I immediately thought of my dear cousin-once-removed who was the son of a drug addict. I held so much anger towards his mother, not for what she was doing to herself but for what she was doing to her son. I am glad that he has found a new home and a wonderful person to call "mom".
The woman i was working with says that she had joined rehab for her husband (they married less than a year ago), and worried that the two years she was spending in the program to save her marriage would cause it to fall apart. She said she cried every night thinking about how her husband night leave her. I didn't know how to tell her to have hope; i am just another person, just as lost and confused. Maybe that alone is comforting.
I wish her the best, and am honored to have met such an amazing and brave individual.
My group (Charlie, Aiden, Gianna, Hannah, Marsh and myself) went to Sunshine Academy to work with little children.
We arrived at 8:45 and got to work.
Charlie and I stayed with the two littlest kids while everyone else worked with the slightly older children and the two main staff members.
The kids were really mean to Charlie... they threw blocks at him and tackled him 24/7... it was honestly hilarious.
We had 3 hours of free time due to the fact that the kids had to nap. We first went to the Santa Fe Art District and walked around there for about an hour.
We then went back to the church and napped in the middle of the dining room floor. It was the most relaxing nap I've had in a while.
We returned to the Academy at 2:15 and did the same thing we did in the morning pretty much. This kid kept kicking me though... it hurt he was a strong kid!
I also helped a girl who had shut her finger in a door and her nail had pretty much come off. She was a twin too! So I told her about Maddie and Julia and helped distract her from the pain. It was sad because they didn't have health insurance and the mom couldn't be there until 6:30 because she was working.
Over all it was a good day... I'm really tired though...
Tomorrow my group and I are painting houses. Can't wait! :)
What I found today was that the conditions these children experienced in their daily lives did nothing to dim the joy they felt in learning and play. Children are truly resilient and thrive given the smallest encouragement. It was a privilege to have been a part of their day.
John S (the newbie)
Well after exploring the beautiful mountains of Colorado on Sunday, today we started the mission. My group along with Maddie Schafer's group went to Food Bank of the Rockies. The Food Bank serves hundreds of organizations across northern Colorado and all of Wyoming. The food bank is housed in this MASSIVE warehouse, and I mean massive. The food bank takes indiviual donations along with massive donations from their many cooperate and non profit organizations.
As I was sorting the individual donations, I came across all these bottles of expired salsa. That is when it hit me that we are feeding our hungry anything and mosty everything. Now of course I realize that anyone who is hungry will eat whatever they are given, but that does not mean that they should not be denied the food that I get to eat. I love to eat my organic veggies from Whole Foods and it bothers me so much that not everyone has the chance to eat healthy, wholesome food. We are facing a massive obesity epidemic in the United States and it is not going to get any better if we keep continuning to feed out hungry the leftovers. So my mid year resolution is to stop giving the food shelf the beans from the back of the cabinet and give them wholesome food that I would freely chose to eat.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
- Aidan C.
Well we made it here to Denver all in one piece and the church we stayed at last night was wonderful. It's located in a neighborhood similar to mac ply. We knew it would be a great fit when we saw the "open and affirming" sign-- thanks Susanne for hooking us up!
We went to a cool pizza place, and got some BOMB pizza, even though we came ten minutes before closing...
We had quite the sleeping experience. There was some cars outside, some snoring, and even some sleep talking!
Shout out to all the dads and father figures in our lives. We dont know what we would do without you and you all are amazing. Thank you for your everlasting support and encouragement, we love you all!
We're going to church this morning, and then we will head out to explore Denver and arrive at Door later in the evening.
Someone will update later tonight and everyone have a joyous father's day!
Lily and Clara
Bye for now.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Sorry for this last minute update, but we have received forms that Door requires each participant to have signed by a parent/guardian and with them when we show up Saturday. There is a health form and a waiver form specific to Door. They are at the top of the list to the right.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
The picnic is this Wednesday evening at Hannah and Maddie Frawley’s house at 1780 Lincoln.
Starts at 6.15 and we will eat right away.
Please bring a chair or two, our hosts have 25 but we are expecting a few more. We will have brats, dogs and burgers and such so please scan list below to see your assignment to bring something to share.
L and J Nelson
4. Condiments -- Big ole bottles of ketchup, mustard, etc.
Also, we have some free bag availability on Delta, so we are suggesting that youth bring a bulky item, like a sleeping mat, CLEARLY LABELED WITH SHARPIE, etc. and we will pack a few big duffles and leave them in a car until Saturday. Remember, everything else goes into a carry on.
Thanks, andsee you then.