Friday, July 21, 2017

Youth Reflection - Emma

Overall, serving in Fort Worth has been a wonderful experience. Some of my favorite parts include working at a food pantry, playing with underprivileged and homeless children at a shelter, and bagging toiletry items at a nearby church. Working in this area has really developed my understanding of homelessness and how it impacts the community and everyone in it. Even though the reality of homelessness is sad and upsetting, it brings me great joy to see such a supportive group of churches and community centers dedicated to helping their neighbors and those in need. This mission trip has been filled with excitement, fun, and hard work. We’ve served at a different location every morning, and we’ve met a variety of men and women with interesting stories and lives. One of my favorite conversations was with a man named Michael. He was from Forth Worth, enjoyed barbecue, and used to run track at the local high school. Through this brief interaction, I found that Michael and I were very similar and held many common interests. This really put his situation into perspective for me. Many members of this community have hopes and ambitions, but have been overcome by poverty, hunger, and homelessness. To me, the work we did in Fort Worth was very meaningful, and it impacted the community and the members of WUFPC positively. I am very grateful for this opportunity to serve, and I look forward to next years mission trip and the experience and knowledge it will bring.

-Emma, UPC

Youth Reflection - John

This morning, after an early wake up and a quick rush to the shower in order to ensure a prime spot in the line of groggy boys that came out of our room, I realized that two days ago I had signed up to write a blog post on the last day of the mission trip. That position holds a lot of weight because instead of having one or two days to write about I needed to sift through five days of service in order to find the best moments. As the day continued the deadline crept up on me until it was 10 pm and the second to last person who was tasked to write a blog post was beginning to sit down and I had neglected to think about what I was going to say. I knew that I needed to talk about where I saw God in the world. This of course was not that difficult, I saw God in the lines of homeless people smiling when they saw us ready to volunteer, the food insecure who took home grocery carts of food and the other volunteers who were giving their time and talents along with us. However I rarely had an extremely powerful moment with any of the people with which we served and decided that just talking about the many small times I saw God was not as intriguing. It was on our last devotional of the week when we sat in a circle and gave affirmations towards one another that I realized where I truly saw God this week, in the other youth I worked with. Amanda, who was always quick to come up with a new game to keep us hydrated, Amy, who would keep the group motivated by singing allowed whatever song was currently running through her mind, Madeline, who would come to the aid of anyone who needed it and was always eager to work, Sara, who would keep the group entertained with her ridiculously long story jokes and riddles with complicated solutions, Nadia, who was everyone’s big sister, there to lend a helping hand and refill supplies at the food bank when they got low, Marianna, who no matter how difficult a problem seemed would persist and work harder than anyone else, Chris, the youngest in our group was always able to crack a joke and make sure everyone was in the service fully, and Anthony would be there to answer questions thoughtfully and insightfully. I was so lucky to be able to work along side this group of amazing young people and help make this world a better place by being the hands and feet of Christ.

-John, WPC

Youth Reflection - Nadia

As a graduating senior, I wanted to make this trip my best one yet. I wanted to forget the fact that this was my last mission trip as a youth and simply enjoy myself. On the first day, all of the youth were just a little shy, but working together really gave us the chance to get to know each other better and begin to build connections. John constantly cracked jokes. Marianna had an amazing work ethic. Sara had a constant stream of riddles and jokes. Amanda had abounding energy (enough to even start singing camp songs at seven in the morning). Amy was up for just about anything and was always the first to volunteer. Anthony was always up for a good ol’ politics debate and was a constant stream of endless facts. Chris was always up for an impossible riddle and a fun game of Crud. Madeleine did an amazing job of making sure that everyone felt included and was in charge of making up our group’s chant (Go Hydration League!). This group of people made the work so much fun this week and I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to make these new friends.

-Nadia, FPC

Day Six Pictures

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Youth Reflection - Josie

This week in Fort Worth I worked in a food bank, interchurch agency, mobile pantry, and women and children’s center. At the food bank, on Monday, I got to help by stuffing food in a grocery bag to put in a box for the homeless people. Monday afternoon, during devotion, I watched a documentary called A Place at the Table where it talks about the families who are struggling to keep their family and themselves alive. Before the documentary we did an activity where there was 1 blue card, 2 red cards, and 5 yellow cards. Each colored card had a real life scenario and depending upon the scenario the person holding that colored card got to step forward or back. At the end of the activity the blue card was ahead of everybody else, the yellow cards were in the middle, and the red cards were way behind everybody else. The red cards were those in poverty, the yellow cards were the average people, and the blue cards were the wealthy. Monday night we hosted a place called Room at the Inn where 14 homeless men sleep in the gym. I got to talk about politics with a guy named Reginald and talk with Tony and Prentice about many different things like movies, books, animals, and numbers.

Tuesday I went to the Northside InterChurch Agency (NICA). At NICA the group painted a main entrance gate. For devotion we got to walk the labyrinth which was really nice, soothing, and relaxing. Tuesday night we went to a pool party at a church member’s house.

Wednesday morning I got to serve the homeless people potatoes and talk with them about their life and they got to know us too by asking us questions. At 11 am we arrived at six flags and rode rides and played arcade games. I rode the Aquaman, Mine Train, and Roaring Rapids.

Thursday morning the WUFPC went to Community Crossroads and there my group sorted crayons, tested markers, and sharpened colored pencils. In the afternoon we went to the Baptist Church and set up the agape meal. There were a number of kids 16 and older who got to eat the food and be a table host, a lot of us served and helped tables. Afterwards we helped clean up and talk to the homeless people who stayed and wanted to talk with us.

I saw God in the homeless people I talked to throughout this week because I felt the love and caring community in them and I knew that most of them needed God with them, near and around them, and I hope that sooner than later they will see God’s work being done to them and hope they will not be in poverty anymore.

-Josie, WPC

Youth Reflection - Delaney

Thursday afternoon we volunteered at a love feast called “agape” at the Broadway Jesus Church. I had volunteered at this particular dinner once before and it was interesting to see the differences in conversation between the two events. I met an older couple today with some unimaginable struggles. The man was in a wheelchair due to a recent surgery on his leg. He went on to tell me that he will most likely have to have his leg amputated, which was extremely hard to hear. His wife was a soft-spoken woman who was attempting to gain advice from me about her husband. It was clear that she had an intellectual disability, and I found it quite humbling that she still wanted so desperately to help her husband through his surgery.

-Delaney, FPC 

Youth Reflection - Edith

On Monday, we went to the West Lake Community Center to play with the kids. I was with the Pre-K and Kindergarteners. It was sad to see how behind the kids were. The teacher had the students read a story and then write an alterative ending, and most of the students had a really hard time reading and writing. It was still fun to play with them and read to them.
On Thursday morning, we went to the Community Crossroads to pack lunches for the guests. We also spent time coloring with the kids at the Food Bank. It was amazing to work with the volunteers there and see God through them.  After lunch, we came back to First Presbyterian Church and we watched “A Place at the Table.” It was an eye-opening film that I really enjoyed. “A Place at the Table” told about people who were food insecure in the US. It explored the different reasons of food insecurity and the different terms of trying to solve it. Next we went to the Broadway Baptist Church and served dinner to guests. It was interesting to see all the people who came to serve the guests and listen to the stories of the guests.

-Edith, UPC

Youth Reflection - Lauren

Today we went to a homeless day shelter where we organized things for WOW (Worship on Wednesdays), made cookies, helped make sack lunches, and interacted with all the people who came to seek shelter from the heat. I helped by sharpening colored pencils with my group while we chatted. Yesterday morning we went to a church where they were handing out food to homeless people. It was very eye-opening to see just the amount of people who needed food and a place to live, and it makes you think about how lucky you are to have an A/C during summer and a place to buy food that you can afford. When we went to the Women and Children’s shelter on Tuesday, it was very sad to see the amount of little children there with their mom. I can’t wait to go home and tell everyone about this amazing experience I’ve had here.

-Lauren, FPC 

Day Five Pictures

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day Four Pictures

Today was our play day at Six Flags and gave the youth the evening off to rest up for another day of service tomorrow. We'll be back soon with more reflections from our amazing youth. Until then, enjoy some pictures from our crazy day!