2013 Mission Trip
Friday, August 2, 2013
Day # - wait, what day is this. I’ve lost count….
Oh, yeah! It’s Friday and we have a day of our own to enjoy something in the Atlanta area. We choose…Six Flags! We got a great deal on tickets so off we went to see just how much abuse our bodies can take getting tossed, twisted bumped and rocketed around on the roller coasters. Actually the weather turned out great, in fact I think it was one of the hottest days we have had since we hit Atlanta. The youth have done a great job this week and have truly earned their day of fun.
Souvenir Hunting at Six Flags Fun Day
If You Look Close -- There Are Some of Our Green Shirts Way Up There
Yes . . . As a Matter of Fact . . .
We Really Did Ride This!
Before Heading Out of the Park
Hey, Clark, Look What We Picked Up in Atlanta! No Worries . . . Payment Isn't Due for 90 Days!
First the real reason we came here. Our closing worship service was last night and it was another emotional occasion. We all carry things around, both emotional and physical, which hinder us in our pursuit of having our foundation firmly grounded in Jesus. Some of those things may seem pretty minor, or at least seem that way to someone else who is not struggling with the issue. Some are of course very major by anyone’s standards. The point is we have to make that choice we mentioned yesterday.
Chose Jesus, or not. Sounds easy. Seems like it should be an easy choice. But to be a truly obedient child of God, is like trying to find a truly, fully obedient toddler or maybe even a teenager. Don’t scoff adult’s, as I like to say, we too are children of God, we’ve just had more experience being childish. Each member of this group has issued a challenge to themselves of something they need to change, and the rest of us are challenged to hold themselves and the others accountable. Boy, this should be interesting!
Tomorrow we are heading home, and if nothing goes wrong we should be rolling into the church parking lot. As much as we would like to stay and continue our work here, we are also missing our loved ones at home, and for myself, I won’t mind getting off of the air mattress on the floor! See you soon!
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Day #4 On The Streets
Today we finish up our ministry on the streets of Atlanta with 7 Bridges Ministry. Walking in the door to the ministry, we were looking at a huge pile of bread and bologna for sandwiches. In front of us were enough makings for 400 sandwiches. What did the FPC group do? We smiled! The FPC crew has turned into a monster sandwich making machine! Even a few of the volunteers were jumping in and were excited at how well the sandwich line moved along. It was not the “7 Bridges Way” but the FPC sandwich line ROCKS!
Heading Out For Another Day on the Streets
Sandwich Count . . . . 400 !!!!!
The 7 Bridges group was even larger today with another round of volunteers coming in and required the group to be divided into two large teams. By the time all this was organized we only had time for a stop at one set of apartments, but we have already started to recognize familiar faces of our Atlanta brothers and sisters.
The Home of 7 Bridges Ministry
Part of Our 7 Bridges Brothers
Lunch through dinner we are on our own today as the Team Effort staff prepares for our closing ceremony at tonight’s worship service. Lunch was at an Atlanta landmark, the Varsity hot dog restaurant. From there we travelled on the MARTA train system and ended up in the Olympic Centennial Park area. A tour through the Coca Cola museum got everyone carbonated up at the tasting room (it’s a wonder they sell so much, some of that stuff is just Blaaaaaaah!). Then it was over to the CNN building for dinner at the food court. Walking back we stopped at the large bronze statue that has the nail marks embedded in it from the bombing incident of the 1996 Olympics. Most of our youth were not born yet at that time, but it is a strong reminder of how the few can have such a devastating impact on those around them. Another MARTA ride back to the cars and it was time for our closing ceremony.
Lunch at the Varsity
With Nail Marks From the 1996 Bombing
The theme this week comes from Luke 6:46-49 telling us that if we want our lives to be solid, we need to have the rock solid foundation of God, rather than following our own path and directions. Each of us had a chance to determine what it was that we needed to change in our lives, and an opportunity to strengthen our bond with God to make sure we are built on that solid footing.
Make Sure Your Foundation is Solid
Based on God
The choice is easy.
Life with God, or not.
The path is not easy, but this Mission Team has learned once again that we are a family, sometimes squabble like a family, but have that strong Christian based love to lean on through both easy and tough times.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
“Back to the Bridges”
This morning started out packing another 230 sandwiches and lunches and then loading up and heading toward the underpasses. It is raining on and off today, sometimes pretty heavily, but God’s love has to be delivered along with the lunches, so out we go. The homeless of course have no alternative to being at their locations and we got to meet some of the same brothers and sisters we had visited and prayed with on Monday.
One Small Challenge -- A Dead Battery
Working With 7 Bridges
Bringing Lunch and Jesus!
7 Bridges Van
The prayers range from help with depression to a simple job of having a lawn to be mowed. Most are just looking for a break to get headed off the streets. We met up with Kent again today. He is always anxious to share his story of how his choices landed him on the streets, and telling all the youth to stay in school and make smart choices.
In spite of the rain, in spite of the heat, in spite of the hiking up around the overpasses, we are realizing that our time among our brothers and sisters in Christ in Atlanta is the going fast and before we know it our new friends will be memories to be revisited in our prayers upon return to our daily routines.
One of the Better Sites Under the Overpasses
Dancing the Hip-Hip-Hip-Hippo
Dance Under the Bridges.
Last Bridge of the Day.
Lunch is Next!
The days have moved very fast on the street. Although they have not been the long or physical days of some of our previous mission journeys, they have been very awakening in realizing the great need that exists in our American cities. We drive by building after building that are condemned, vacant and boarded up. Some areas smell highly, letting you know that this is the selected spot being used as a “restroom”.
Sharing God's Love in the Rain
Taking Care of Your Sister in Christ
Yet Another Shower Rolling Thru!
Our group continues to grow in their faith as a family. We hit the bumps, we bounce, we recover, and we love each other. It’s comforting to know you have a good Christian family that loves each other as this group has throughout the years.
Tomorrow is our last day on the streets with our brothers and sisters from 7 Bridges. Check back soon for more of the story.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
We had a little change of pace today in our journey through Atlanta’s neighborhoods. Instead of heading for the underpasses and bridges, we made 255 sandwich packs and ventured into the area referred to as the “Bluffs”. This is one of the more run down areas, with many houses and complexes boarded over and no longer inhabited. Those that remain face the many issues that come along with areas that have fallen into disrepair. Yet even so, with our 7 Bridges companions, our brothers and sisters joined us in the parking lots of their apartments or just along the sidewalks. Everyone who wanted one received a lunch, most of the time sharing a prayer, always a smile, and many real hugs. Not those pat on the shoulder hug, but a REAL hug!
Getting Started on 255 Sandwiches
The Lunch Bag Production Line
Lunch Bag Production
Today was different, in that we were joined by another group from a church in Florida. It changed things as we went out into the neighborhoods. The pace got a little faster, and the group was a little harder to move through the area. Never the less, we had several wonderful contacts again today. We always ask if there are any specific prayer requests, and often the request is for a parent, a niece, or another family member. Not for themselves. I for one, cannot remember all the names by the end of the day, but on the streets, each of our brothers and sisters are named in our prayers. You can generally tell how much they appreciate the sharing of our faith by how solid the hug is as we get ready to move to our next location.
First Stop Heading to the Bluffs
Go Jesus, Go Jesus Chant
Praying With Our Young Brother at the Second Apartment Complex
We did get a real treat today after our Atlanta experience, and found a public swimming pool for a little over an hour before heading back for our evening meal, bible study, and worship service.
Cooling Down at the Local Swimming Pool . . . . . . aaaahhhhh!
The Ride Home Gets Real Quiet After a Day at The Bluffs
You should all be proud of this group of youth. They are serving with all their hearts, asking a lot of very interesting questions during bible study, and they are representing First Presbyterian, their chaperones, and their faith in God in an excellent way, every day! We truly appreciate your continued prayers as we get to continue our faith journey tomorrow.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Day One in the mission field was so rewarding. We worked with the ministry “7 Bridges” who goes out and serves the homeless in downtown Atlanta every week. We made sandwiches and lunches for 200 people. Our task next was to visit the “bridge communities” and introduce ourselves, share a bagged lunch, a prayer and a hug with our brother or sister. It was a moving experience that I think touched all of us. At each major stop, at least two members of our group were called to the middle to pray for the members of the area we visited. Each of our group came to the call like champs. They were fluid with their message and inclusive to all that were in the circle. We meet many different people from young to old who were friendly and inviting to our visit. It was such a great feeling to share God’s love and blessing with them as they shared their blessings with us.
Our True Leader
Praying Over a Meal
A Little Fun After Lunch
Dancing in the Parking Lot
Two people stand out from today: 1) Kent was a 53 year old ex-professional boxer, whose career was cut short because he was shot 7 times over a disagreement . His life slowly turned to homelessness. The second was a little boy who was not older than 4. When we came to his grandmother and offered her and her grandkids food and prayer, the young lad said he wanted to pray. We all lowered our heads to share our new friend’s needs with Christ. A long pause came and then we invited to help the young man to repeat our prayer. I truly think this was his first time he had ever prayed. God was happy today and so were we. Again, we are in the right place. God has called us to do his work and in another field and He is all around us. Thanks for sending us. Please continue to pray for us. We feel your love from here.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Before we say anything else, we must send a huge prayer of thanks for our support from our congregation members and friends who have made this trip possible.
The hiring of the youth, the help with the peanut clusters, the donations from friends and family, today’s lunches pack with love, and all the prayers make this faith journey a success, before we ever headed down the highway.
We are in Marietta, Georgia tonight at the Milford Baptist Church. After the commissioning at the Contemporary Service this morning and the traditional group picture at the front sign, the trip was smooth sailing.
Our Fearless Leaders
Our Home Away From Home
We are a small group at Team Effort compared to past years as we are the final group coming through this summer. This should be a great chance for our group to grow together through our experiences of the week.
We have only been told a little about what is to come, but word is we start by packing up around 200 bologna sandwiches…. .
Stay tuned. We will let you know all about our journey tomorrow….