Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Break Mission Trip 2012! Bold Flexibility!

We just got back from our Spring Break Mission Trip to Minneapolis/St.Paul Minnesota and I thought I would share with you what I experienced.  First I need to say THANK YOU!!!!! to all of those who prayerfully and financially supported us on the trip.   We couldn't have done it with out you! We started the journey with and early morning meeting and departure from the church parking lot!  (We were on the road @ 6:30 am)  We drove and drove and drove and finally made it to Minneapolis, MN about 5 pm!  14 of us in a 15 passenger van with all of our stuff was a tight squeeze but the kids were all troopers and did an amazing job! I was so very proud of them throughout the entire trip.  I thought I would include some pictures from each day to see more check out my facebook page.  I am going to give you a short run down of what we did each day and who we met along the way!  I learned so much on this trip, and I am so Thankful I was able to be a part of the team that served this week.  I was stretched and made uncomfortable many times but God was able to work through me (not by my power, thankfully) and He gave me Boldness when I needed it!

Sunday March 18

Our first night in Minnesota we first went to dinner at at Napali -Himilayn food.  ( I didn't get any pictures) then we went to the church we would be staying at all week unloaded all our stuff.  Josh led us on a prayer tour around Minneapolis and St.Paul, we stopped at several places along the way to pray for the cities and those that we would be interacting with along the way.

Monday March 19
After Morning Devotions and Breakfast we headed to the School for our first day working with the students.  The school we worked with is a public school with a majority of the students being Hmong. Many of the students spoke English as well as two or three other languages, a few did not speak English or were still learning.  I was in a second grade class and loved the kids instantly!  Our task/job at the school was to help the students with their work.  We mostly did reading and math!  This was very similar to what I do for my job, but it was still very rewarding!  (for privacy reason I will not mention the school name or any students names) Here is LT helping a group with a math activity!

After we left the school we went to eat our sack lunches on the steps of St.Paul's Cathedral It was a great view of St.Paul the capitol building and then we had a little bit of time to go inside and see the cathedral, it was beautiful!

After lunch we go to Frogtown!  (named because of  a prevalence of frogs in the swampy, sparsely populated section of town.) The area has always been a haven for immigrants, in part because of the inexpensive housing in the area.  In Frog Town we met with a group from the Frogtown Community House and Garden Project.  The currently have two homes they are restoring and will have families moving in to bring God's presences into the neighborhood.  We went on a prayer walk with a few of the volunteers.


We then headed to Sharing Caring Hands (Mary's Place) and served a meal to the homeless. We then went on a tour to see all this ministry does for the cities of Minneapolis/St.Paul.  Mary Jo Copland started Sharing and Caring hands as a way to meet the needs of those in need, and continues to this day to serve and give all she has to God and the people of Minnesota.  You can check out the web page for Caring and Sharing Hands Here!

 I would love to find a coffee pot that fits those coffee filters! <3

After we left Mary's Place we headed to dinner at Quang's (Vietnamese I think) 

KJ Eagerly awaiting her dinner! 

 Spring Roll and Crab Puffs! YUMMY!
This was my dinner I am not sure what it was but it was good! Chicken with some veggies and rice!
After Dinner we headed to the YMCA to shower and back to the church for Worship and debriefing for the day!

Tuesday March 20
Today was when I was made very uncomfortable (in a good way).  We started our day with our quiet time devotion and prayer, breakfast then headed to the school!  The kids were excited to see us back!

When we left lunch we headed to the Conservatory to eat our sack lunches! This was one of those really busy days so we didn't get a chance to go in and explore but we did have a beautiful weather outside to enjoy our lunches.

After Lunch we head to Pastor Paul's Mission.  Pastor Paul purchased an old church and uses it as a warehouse of sorts to store and provide healthy fresh foods to the disadvantaged poor.  Families, individuals, couples register and are provided with a supply of nutritious food 1-2 times each month.  They are then able to return  after that has been used up to purchase more at a very reduced rate! 
While here we sorted and packaged green bell peppers into 10lb bags, did some outside yard work, packaged rice and beans, and broke down some boxes! 

The Group Outside Pastor Paul's Mission
                                         Look at those prices! The Hubby sorting some Peppers!
We filled two of these huge boxes on a pallet with bagged peppers! 

After we Left Pastor Paul's We met up with Maury and he showed us around his old neighborhood. Maury was homeless and spent many years on the street because of an alcohol addiction through the grace of God he is no longer on the street and now works to help others  know God's love and Grace.  He took us to Loaves and Fishes it's soup kitchen that provides 300+ meals a day to those in need.  We were given our task, integrate ourselves in with the homeless men, women and children eating there, talk with them. First we went through the line to get our dinner. The Meal was tuna noodle casserole, peaches, carrot sticks and a dinner roll.  I picked through me meal and choked down a few bites of the tuna noodle casserole, ate the carrots and dinner roll.  As the people came in they would look around for a seat and sit anywhere but where any of us (foreigners) were.  We were outsiders and they knew it!  We stood out and not in a good way!  They avoided sitting with us unless they had to.  I was very uncomfortable here! I would have much rather been behind the table serving out the tuna noodle casserole and not sitting there eating it.  After several uncomfortable minutes two men sat at our table.  We schooched down to talk to them and they were polite and responded but seemed to be bothered a little by us. One of the men left and Mark was left behind with three of us Kansans.  We asked him about himself, and he began to share an open up all the while eating his second serving of the tuna noodle casserole.  He moved to MN 13 years ago form Memphis, TN in search of work.  He was rewarded with not one but three jobs right after he moved here and seemed to be doing great.  One thing led to another and he is now with out a job and with out a home, he lives in the shelter.  When we left here my heart broke for Mark.  And I realized a few things, I am not in need for anything, I have never known what its like to be so hungry you will eat whatever you can.  I knew when we left there that if I was hungry I could have a snack back at the church later. (I didn't) Now maybe Mark really liked the tuna noodle casserole (he had three servings!), or maybe he didn't know when he would get his next meal.  It was wake up call to me, to live contently with what I have and not take for granted my blessings. I have never known hunger, or homelessness, or the hopelessness that many we interacted with at Loaves and Fishes feel every day.  

When we left there we headed to Bethlehem Church to get a quick training on street evangelism, then we headed out to downtown Minneapolis to evangelis.  I was paired up with the Hubby, and CM a high school girl (that I grew to love like my own on this trip!) Some people are gifted with the ability to Evangelis, and I am not one of them!  (But I am ok with that) again I was very uncomfortable, but learning to be flexible.  We decided to pray for those around us, so we walked and prayed and then we came upon a man sitting on the sidewalk with a sign that said Need Food, so we sat with him and prayed for him.  His name is Noah! We talked for a few minutes and we asked if we could pray for him, he said yes and we asked him he had a relationship with God and he said he believed in God, and he was connected somewhat with a church. We walked away and got the feeling we needed to do more, so we found a small store (Walgreens) and went inside bought some crackers, cookies, peanuts, and water for Noah and went back to where he was and gave him the food items and prayed with him again.  As we were sitting there on that sidewalk in downtown Minneapolis everyone around us vanished and it was just the four of us there praying. I have no idea what was prayed but I do know that God was at work not only in Noah's life but in ours!    

Wednesday March 21
Again we started our day with our quite time devotions and prayer, had breakfast then headed to the school!

After working with the kids we headed to Peavey Park and had our sack lunches! 

The Hubby really is just a big kid! 

I think he had more fun than the kids.
After lunch and a quick break to play at the park, we head to Ebenezer's to help throw a party for Alzheimer  patients.  (we were not allowed to photograph any of the residence) I met Susan and Bob.  They have been married for 43 years and he adores her! When I went to Susan's room to get her she didn't want to come unless she knew that Bob was going to be there. I assured her he would and we head downstairs.  During the party we talked and they shared a little of their life with me.  I was then asked to use the nursing homes camera to capture pictures of the patients which I did! It was so much fun being able to share in this celebration with the residents of the home.  

After Ebenezer's we went to the Somali Mall (it's a building with 30+ individual shops services for the Somali people who live in Minneapolis.  Our task was to talk with one of the shopkeepers.  I was so surprised by how eager and open they were to talk to us.  Many left Somalia to escape war and famine.  The woman we spoke with shared that she had been in MN for 15 years.  In her shop she sold scarves and fabrics, and traditional dresses.  We found our Somalia is in Africa near the Indian Ocean.
After this we headed to a Hmong market similar to the Somali Mall but with services, shops and foods of the Hmong people.  We ate our dinner here! My meal was delicious grilled chicken, rice noodles, lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers all in a bowl topped with a peanut sauce and served with a spring roll and a vinegar dressing! (See the picture below) 

Thursday March 22
We started the day with our quite time devotions, prayer and breakfast then headed to the school for our last day.  The night before we made a quick stop at Target to get some things for the classrooms we had been working in.  My group bought bubbles, cupcakes and candies as well as pencils, and some organizing bins for the teacher.  After reading and math the teacher gave us some time to pass out our treats.  We decided that since they were working on graphing and arrays to use the candies to reinforce  the math lessons they had been doing.  They really like that hands on approach. afterwards we passed a cupcake and bubbles to each student and gave them 2 pieces of chocolate.  (it's ok they were headed to recess after this) They had made us some cards  and gave those to us.  We didn't want to leave but knew we had to.

After we said our goodbyes and gave out some hugs, the kids went to recess and we headed to lunch.  Today we ate our sack lunches at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.  So neat!

After lunch we went to Harbor Light (Salvation Army).  It's a men's and women's shelter, soup kitchen, and clothing distribution all in one.  We went up to the 6th floor to where the clothes were and sorted clothes for several hours!  This tested all of our patience and we all had to be flexible because the person incharge just sorta said here's the room sort clothes, and left! (It's funny now but it was a little strange then)  as you can see from the pictures below clothes were everywhere! However I can say when we left you could see a huge improvement!  I am not sure how many bags we sorted and re-bagged by size and gender but it was a lot!!!!  

After we sorted and bagged the clothes we got a tour of the facility and got to see all that they do there! What a tremendous blessing to the community.  

When we left Harbor light we went to Second Harvest.  At SH we labeled over 4,000 lbs of canned beans. This was fun because we knocked them out in no time at all because we worked together as a team!  Such a great experience to see the students on this trip come together time after time and work and serve and give so much of their selves! It made me so proud to be a part of their group! 

We worked so hard this day that by the time dinner came I was ready to eat! And eat we did, this time we had pizza.  Dinner was at Pizza Luce (they are apparently very well known in Minneapolis as one of the best!) It was good! 

Friday March 23
We slept in a little today! Had our quiet time devotions, prayer and breakfast, then headed to a coffee shop. After the Coffee shop we boarded the train for the Mall of America!  (I left my camera at the church, so I only got a few pictures on my cell phone) The Hubby and I enjoyed shopping and people watching at the mall.  It is soooo BIG! We never made it all the floors or anywhere near all the stores.  But we did enjoy some time alone! (First time on the whole trip!) We decided we would like to come back and maybe ride a roller coaster or two and see a show, visit the aquarium and then shop.

After our allotted time we met back up with the group and took the train back to downtown Minneapolis and walked through the sky way. ( you could live Downtown and never have to go outside!) Several building are connected with the sky walk ways.

Our final group dinner we go to Josh's favorite restaurant Buca Di  Pepo (real Italian).  They serve the meals family style and so we all shared some delicious food, and a great night of fellowship!

Saturday March 24
We had to say goodbye to Josh and pack the van and begin our journey home! I know each of us left a bit of our hearts in Minnesota! We had such an incredible time giving, sharing and serving with one another! I for one am glad I went!

Have a Beautiful Day!