Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No...Not a Shopping Mall...

Sorry for the lack of a post from yesterday.  It was the second day of worksites and the groups were again split up and sent to many of the same sites (but each group went to a different site than they did before).  They all seemed to have a good time and came back with even more stories!

Today was the SERVants day away.  They all headed down to the National Mall (not a place to go shopping) taking the metro.  Many of the groups visited the memorials and monuments and some museums on the mall.  One group woke up early and went downtown before the rest of the SERVants to take a tour of the White House.  The group members agreed that getting up early was well worth it!  The rest of the groups opted to get some more sleep and just take pictures from the outside.  :)  From all the smiling faces on the pictures it seems that everybody had a great time exploring the Nation's Capital!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Round 1

Today was the first day that the SERVants went to worksites.  The ten groups worked at six different worksites in and around the city.  These sights were:

  • Food and Friends- Half of the SERVants made meals and the other half delivered the meals to people in the community with serious illnesses.  
  • Anacostia Watershed Society- The SERVants did clean up and restoration in areas around the Anacostia River
  • Pathway Homes- This is an organization that provides housing to mentally-ill adults.  The SERVants worked on restoring one of these homes.
  • Interfaith Works- SERVants sorted clothing for distribution to those in need.
  • Lamb Center- The Lamb Center is a homeless day center.  SERVants interacted with the individuals who came through the center and worked in the kitchen.
  • Heart of America- SERVants sorted books for this organization that distributes books to the poor and school libraries.  
  • Painting a porch of an elderly woman from the DCCRC
  • Distributing water to homeless individuals on the National Mall in downtown D.C. 
The SERVants came back with many wonderful stories to share from their day.  During the worship time tonight and before Pete spoke, everyone was given the opportunity to share ways they saw God working in their own or other people's lives.  Many people shared stories, especially those who had the chance to work with the homeless.  The group that went to the Lamb Center shared a story of how the girls in the group went to CVS and bought an emory board and nail polish and gave a couple very grateful women a manicure.  When they were gone the boys witnessed a fight that broke out at the center needing the police to be called.  The leader of the group talked about how this experience made what they heard in their presentation yesterday real for the SERVants.  Members of other groups talked about how much stopping and having conversations with homeless people on the mall really opened their eyes and blessed them.  The SERVants heard their stories while sharing their own.  One SERVant expressed what a wonderful experience it was for him to be able to pray with a homeless man.  While eating dinner at a table with some of the SERVants they all agreed they would sleep very well tonight, but had a really good beneficial time at their worksites.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

SERVE 2012: The Adventure Begins!

They are here and ready to serve!  On Saturday the SERVE students and leaders arrived and settled into the lovely carpeted classrooms where they will live for the next week.  Once settled (and after a few runs on the slip and slide) everyone gathered for dinner, mixer games, and a time of worship.  Our speaker, Pete Armstrong, kicked off the week with a message and gave some direction for the week and our worship team led the group in singing.  Saturday night was also the first time the students and leaders met with their small groups.  These are the groups they will be going to worksites with and meeting each day after the worship for devotions.  All were tired after their long days of driving and activity and ready for bed by lights out!

The participants were up and ready to go this morning by 8 for breakfast before departing for the two hosting churches, the Silver Spring Christian Reformed Church and the Christian Reformed Church of Washington, D.C.  During breakfast they watched a short video on how to use the D.C. metro system...important information for later in the day!  The students and leaders then got in their small groups and departed for the two churches.  Half the groups went to Silver Spring and the other half to D.C.
Once the services were over all participants gathered at the D.C. church for some lunch before continuing with their busy schedule.  Thank you to those who pitched in and helped serve lunch!  After lunch a group from the Steinbruck Center for Urban Studies from Luther Place Memorial Church in downtown D.C. gave a presentation on poverty in the city.  They all participated in a poverty simulation on what it would be like to live in the city for three months in poverty.  They were each given one of three different identities stating how old they were, if they had family, a job, place to live, what bills they needed to pay, etc.  Some of the leaders were at stations set up as places like a food bank, women's shelter, grocery store, unemployment office and other services and given instructions on how they were allowed to help the students.  The students quickly learned how many expenses there are even to those who have very little and that even though they may not make enough money to pay their bills or support their family, it can be very challenging to receive the specific help they need.  After the interactive exercise the students and leaders heard someone speak who is homeless.  He talked about the struggles of being homeless and his own experiences.  It was a powerful presentation and a good introduction to poverty in the city they will be serving in starting tomorrow.
Once the presentation was over, they got back into their small groups and headed to the metro in order to get to the National Zoo!  They were greeted by some members of the Host Team and started off on an Amazing Race around the zoo.  The small groups raced around the zoo finding different clues hidden around all hoping to win the prize of being first in line for dinner the rest of the week :)  The matching SERVE shirts with this week's verse (Isaiah 46:5- "So to whom will you compare Me, the Incomparable?  Can you picture Me without reducing Me?") printed on them started many good conversations with people we came across on the metro.
All returned from their busy day hungry for another delicious meal and ready to worship again with Pete and the praise team.  Tonight the speaker encouraged the students and leaders to share God's love around the city during their time here.  He spoke on the verses Mark 8:27-33 where Jesus asked, "Who do people say I am?" The worship time ended by singing "God of This City", an appropriate song as the students and leaders get ready to go out in the city and serve!