26 April 2007

Friday, March 30th

Morning assignments had us splitting into four different groups. Evan, Corbin, Charith, and Bethany loaded the food trucks for afternoon deliveries. Chris and Leanne went to the Dream Center Academy to help tutor the kids. Lindsey and Dot were originally going to do “marketing” but that was cancelled and they joined a group going to Skid Row. Tiana, Meg, and I went to the Metro Kidz office. The food truck group was done early and went walking around and found a Japanese umbrella on the ground which resulted in a series of photos. Chris and Leanne deserve some major props; Chris is our science expert being a biology major, Leanne a math wiz and education major so they were requested as tutors, there wasn’t a lot of free choice on their part. They were both rather hesitant about tutoring the students at DC Academy which are teens that have been put in the program by the courts and don’t want to be there or kids that have been kicked out of all other schools. The program is all online self-paced with a ‘teacher’ in each room to help when needed or proctor. There are advantages to this program but many disadvantages as well. Many of the students were only a year or two younger than Chris and Leanne but they did a fantastic job of working with the students. At lunch Chris was totally jazzed about how he connected with the guys and been able to really help them get the science assignment by coming up with analogies the students could relate to; he was also very burdened by the need for positive male role models for the guys in the DC Academy program. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris’ future goals and plans are tweaked by this experience.

The Metro Kidz office was interesting in that we got a behind the scenes peek into how extensive and large scale the program is on a weekly and monthly basis. We put together about 50 Easter baskets that will be given away at the church service. Every kid, about 150, will go home with an Easter basket on Sunday – EVERY KID! What makes it more impressive is that not much is donated, Metro Kidz has a huge budget and buys most of their supplies and give aways, and the do good give aways. When I went out on Wednesday they gave away four board games. For the street programs during the week every truck will have about ten baskets to give away as prizes and each kid will get a brown lunch sack chock-a-block full of stuff – candy, protein bars, a toy. They needed about a thousand bags or so. Again, all of the stuff in the bags is bought, not donated. Impressive if you think they only do this for major holidays but they do a “party” every month! The magnitude of the supplies needed to put together a thousand goodie bags every month was made more real when we helped unload pallets of boxes of candy and filled their small storage room. It is really an impressive operation and intimidates me all the more in regards to starting a Portland branch. Yikes!

The afternoon was spent with one of the food trucks. We weren’t told where we were going just to follow the green truck which was a challenge as it wove around local streets. I was intent on keeping up with the truck (yes, I was driving) and when it came to making our way back to the Dream Center, well, we took the scenic route as no one was paying attention to just how we got were we did or how to get back, but we made it. People were already lined up when we arrived at the sidewalk next to an elementary school, mostly Asian women, who were very eager to help. Three of the women were given plastic grocery bags to open and get ready to be filled. I was working on bagging up potatoes with another gal but I guess we were not doing it fast enough because a fellow came along and helped us in hyper speed. As bags of food were being handed out I started breaking down boxes and started talking to Mathias, a food truck regular worker. This ended up being a highlight for me. And it isn’t because Mathias is Swedish, a pastor, 32 years old, and adorable with his freckles and red hair and bushy beard that reminded me of an Ewok. Okay, maybe a little, but I won’t admit it! So if I won’t admit his appeal was the highlight, what was? Well it boils down to this: I walked away from our conversation which basically was comparing notes about the un-Christian-ness of Europe, particularly Sweden and Czech, with the strong sense and peace that it is okay to have a heart for Europe and want to return to minister there. This is something I’ve been really struggling with lately. There is so much hurt and need in Asia and Africa, especially in regards to kids at risk, that I feel a sense of obligation to do something in that arena. Yet my heart keeps calling me back to Europe and that is where I envision myself. It has been a tug-o-war in my heart and mind as I think about my future and trying to sort out where God is calling me. Whether right or wrong I had been thinking that Europe has so much and doesn’t have “need” like most areas of the world; it was kind of like Europe wasn’t as deserving in my mind. But after talking with Mathias and his burden for his country and the needs he sees in Sweden and Europe in general it was as if God was validating my desire to work in Europe that God needs people to serve Him there just as much as in Thailand, or India or Uganda. I don't know where God is directing my steps but at least now I don't have an accompanying sense of guilt when I consider Europe.

We arrive back at the Dream Center with over an hour before dinner. Sheer utter exhaustion from the lack of sleep all week finally allows me to nap, if only for a short 20 minutes and I woke up feeling rather awful and had to admit – I was sick. Lindsay had started the trip with a cold and it had made the rounds through several members of the team. I was thinking that I was going to be exempt but I couldn’t deny it any longer, it wasn’t allergies, it wasn’t smoke from the brush fire on the other side of the Hollywood hills, I had the team cold, and I was miserable.

It was decided that we’d pack up this evening and leave after the nightlife outreach. After dinner instead of packing up I lay back down on my squeaky bottom bunk. The nightlife outreach started at 11pm and was scheduled to return at around 3 am. The team decided they’d leave a little early and head out on our long trip home. Oy! I suggested to Lindsay that they go on the nightlife and let me stay at the Dream Center and sleep, when they were ready to go they could come back and get me and everyone could do a “potty break” before taking off. Thankfully she was willing, my plan B was to sleep in the van while they went on the outreach and I was so glad that I didn’t have to do that. Yes, I felt that awful.

The team came back and picked me up a little after 2 am. I grabbed the one bag I hadn’t put in the van already, used the toilet one last time, and we started the long journey home. The sunrise was lovely. I eavesdropped on a good story Corbin was telling Dot as she drove to keep her awake. Tiana was our power driver star of the trip. I didn’t even know she was qualified to drive but she took over around 4 am and lasted until about 10am. She rocked! We spent an hour in Redding getting our last taste of In-n-Out for lunch. It was a fairly mild drive home as most people slept for a major part of the trip. Not I, alas sleep was ever elusive. I got to be awake for the whole 16 hour drive fully aware of my misery. Thankfully the team really stepped up and I never had to drive. I was so tired I didn’t trust myself to drive. We pulled into George Fox University parking lot a little after 6 pm and finished the trip similar to how I started, borrowing Evan’s pass card to get into LeShana dorms to use the bathroom. I was proud to be a member of the “tiny tank” club that included Charith and Bethany who also required frequent potty breaks. Departing was bittersweet. I could hardly wait to get home and take a shower, a long hot private shower and sleep in my own bed in my quiet bedroom all by myself for however long I wanted to sleep, but I was also sad to be apart from my team, a group of students who had endeared themselves to me in a week’s time of constant companionship. It has been a good week, a great week.

No comments: