Sunday, July 04, 2010

Nashville Mission Trip: Day 2

Alrighty!  The first full day of the mission trip!  It started out with the energy of everyone hustling and bustling to get ready to head off to their sites.  One of the rules that were laid out was that showers needed to be 5 minutes long in order for everyone to get through.  And the kicker here is that the entrance to the showers is right next to the kitchen so everyone knows when you went in and came out.  It just so happened that one of our new 9th graders thought he was taking a 5 minute shower according to his relative definition of the word “time” but he was easily exceeding 15 minutes and everyone knew it.  He summarily got booed by the whole group when he tried to casually walk out of the shower room and one of the leaders assigned him dish duty for the entire day.  He was responsible for EVERYONE’S dirty dishes!  This was quite delightful to me since this was my own flesh and blood.  It was fun to see peer pressure met out punishment without me having to do hardly anything. 

Our group got split up into three teams.  We made our lunches, had our team devotions and then headed off to our sites.  My team for the day was lead by Ann Mosby.  We had a small group of the new 8th grade girls.  We went to one of the Boys and Girls Clubs for the morning.  I was not too excited about this because of my experience with the Boys and Girls Club on our Chicago trip last Summer, but this was a much different experience.  In Chicago it was hard to get to know the kids and many of them were oblivious to us.  But in Nashville I was blown away by how nice the kids were with our teenagers.  They bombarded all of the teens with attention and affection as we played with them out in the playground, in the gym, and in their game room.  There was never an awkward moment.  If there was a slight moment where I was not doing something, I instantly had a kid in my face saying, “Hey, play with me.” And they would pull me into a basketball game, a foosball game, a ping-pong game, a bumper pool game or a carpetball game.  In fact we played several rounds of thumb wars too.  The kids at this club were all really sweet and fun to be with.  All of our teens felt that they really contributed to the success of the organization and had a lot of fun doing it. 

At lunch time we ate outside in this park that had a beautiful WW2 memorial.  And I do need to say that there is just something about the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a mission trip.  It tastes so extraordinarily good for some reason! 

After lunch we headed out to the Second Harvest Food Bank.  When we pulled up we realized that we would be with one of the other teams for the afternoon, Karen Krammes’ team of new Freshmen!  The Food Bank people took us in to their food packing area.  Giant bins of food needed to be sorted out in categories of good vs. bad food.  99% of it ended up being good so then it went over to the conveyor belt.  There all the food was thrown onto the belt and a large majority of the teens were spread out at stations which would collect and box specific types of food that they would see coming down the belt.  This kept up at quite a steady pace where the time went fast and the kids worked hard.  They packed several pallets of food that ended up being an estimated 10,000-12,000 pounds of food! 

We called it quits soon after 3:30 and then got a full tour of the facility.  The teens were most impressed with their freezer warehouse.  The cold room was a nice contrast to the heat that we had to put up with throughout the day. 

That night we went to dinner at a restaurant called Sheets.  It was a sole food joint.  It was amazing.  Many of the teens got fried chicken with the cheesiest macaroni and cheese ever.  I had to go out on a limb more and I got the turkey and gravy with stuffing with a side of cabbage and sweet potatoes.  I know that sounds like a traditional Thanksgiving meal but it was cooked and served in a completely different way.  It was excellent. 

Just after dinner we did a prayer tour of the city.  We went to a variety of sights that showed the glitz and glimmer of the city as well as the dark and depressing sights.  The one that stood out the most for me was when we went down to the Tennessee Titans stadium.  We stood on the sidewalk right outside of the stadium.  It was then explained to us that the building right next door was the Juvenile Detention Center.  We talked about the contrast and similarities of these two landmarks.  The kids came up with a lot of interesting thoughts.  Then the question was asked, “Where would Jesus be if he were here?”  Many felt that he would be spending more time helping at the Juvenile Detention Center.  Our CSM director challenged us to recognize that Jesus would be standing in the center of these two contrasting worlds.  With that we were challenged to identify with Christ who would “stand in the gap” by lying down on the sidewalk that separated these two organizations and pray for all the people that are represented in their spheres.  It was a cool experience.  We also saw the contrast of the rich and the poor within the distance of one block.  It was an eye opener for many of our teens. 

When we arrived back at our home base, we had a debriefing time with everyone together and heard a lot of interesting stories such as: Mallory trying to help a guy with no arms, some of the teens helping to give a meal to homeless people, other teens spending time with other city kids at other clubs, and so on.  All of them seemed to have a really good day.  Our debrief time went well as I challenged all of our teens to let go of their masks and labels that they all have of themselves and each other at school.  Do not allow the things that divide us into categories affect us on this trip.  We are all children of God here doing what Christ has called us to do!  It ended up being a good evening with the girls going to bed immediately and the boys needing some “encouragement”. 

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