Our day together started at 6:30am when we arrived at the church. After Pastor David Beam gathered us for a prayer, we were sent off in our separate car pooling groups and each car enjoyed a variety of donuts for breakfast. The trip up to Washington DC was a little long but we had good food and good company along the way. As soon as we got to DC we visited John Collins’ grave which is in the Arlington cemetery. It was quite the walk considering Thomas’ directional skills, but when we got there we all were able to step back and really take in our surroundings. With being there, in the presence of his grave and just collectively remembering Mr.Collins and what he did for our church was extremely impactful. We will forever be grateful for him. After visiting the various memorials located in Arlington, we ventured to The Church of Epiphany, where we are staying. We unloaded the cars at this point and got our things together to go to the United Methodist Church and Society Building. This was a very informative point of our day. Not only did we learn about the background of the Methodist Church, but we got to learn about the churches social principles, along with where we individually stood on certain topics. After our tour, we were all a little hangry and decided to eat at a restaurant called District Taco, which was a great decision if I do say so myself. Overall, today was an amazing day and I look forward to the two ahead of us.
Day 2 - Full Day of Service
Today was day two of our DC mission trip. We started the day out by making breakfast and preparing our gourmet lunch that consisted of a pb&j sandwich, a granola bar, and a bag of pretzels. After the preparations were complete we were ready to split into three groups and head out. Group one went to an organization called A Wider Circle, this group helped pair families in poverty with furniture that they would take home for free due to their financial situation. This facility also had programs to help less fortunate apply for and get jobs that would financially provide for their families. Group two went to SOME (So Others May Eat) which was a multitude of programs that was started 25 years ago. Along with being a kitchen, SOME also owns apartments, dental & eye clinics, etc. that are offered to in the DC area, free of charge. It serves lunch to about 250 people a day and impacts many more. Oasis was the shelter that the third group visited today. It is a day shelter for elders who are homeless. The youth in group three mainly kept the people at Oasis company, served lunch and played board games with them. With doing this we learned a lot about the unique backgrounds of every person. Later in the afternoon we met back at the church and prepared a meal that we would enjoy with an estimated 40 people from the public. We made sloppy joes, coleslaw, mac and cheese, garlic bread and refreshments. As an opener the youth separated among six tables and sat with the people walking in. We played board games together. Most of the time the room was filled with laughter. You could definitely see the different personalities among us and it was very intriguing to see everyone getting along. When we had our late night reflection it was apparent how united we actually are. Most of the group discussed the similarities they had with the people they were serving. Having these face to face conversations with these people was eye opening for many. We couldn't have asked for a better experience to help us understand the societal issues around us impacting homelessness. I am confident that today helped us each individually grow and I am sure tomorrow will have a similar outcome.
Day 3 - Well Done (except the burgers)
Well today was our third and final day as a part of YSOP. Per usual, we split up into three groups. The first one went to the Capitol Area food bank and happened to work with a group of foreign exchange students while volunteering. A lot of kids went into depth during our reflection time on the overwhelming size of the building and how many people this particular food bank serves. They filled bags with necessities for a hearty meal. This group worked behind the scenes today and learned about all of the various preparation steps. Group two was more on the front lines. They went to the Father McKenna Center today. It is a day shelter for men. Not only does this particular shelter provide meals for homeless men but many other things are provided such as case management, clothing, hot showers, and more. The youth served the meals and had the opportunity to chat with them. Hearing their stories and the advice they so openly gave was life changing. I personally heard a success story from a gentleman I talked to at the shelter and the happiness appeared to radiate off of him. In simpler words, when he talked about the bright future ahead of him he was glowing. Now for our last group of youth. Today they went to A Wider Circle. According to them, they had an extremely busy day. They moved furniture from the storage area onto the staging area and then further into peoples cars. Everyone had a task and everyone took something away from their time there. “Something I observed today was how much A Wider Circle was integrated with the community. One of their locations is on one of the most dangerous street in DC. Just looking around today you could really see how much everyone respected each other and it was refreshing.” All of these ideas and thoughts about our activities today were jumbled together in our reflection time. It was an emotional day as well as an enlightening one. Before we ate dinner, we briefly went through the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Then we met up with one of our PUMC youth group alumni, Beth Hieronymus. She joined us for dinner at The Gorden Biersch. After this we visited the Washington monument, the Department of Justice, the White house, the Jefferson monument (from afar), and also witnessed Thomas get in trouble by a police officer for not using the sidewalk. When we finally got back to The Church of Epiphany, we settled down and most of us hit the hay early considering the tiring day behind us. Tomorrow we will leave early in the AM and take our luggage, along with the many memories and life lessons we collected from this trip. We couldn't be more thankful for the opportunities we were offered over the past three days and the people that surrounded us. This was most certainly a successful mission trip.