This week was a very moving and eye-opening experience. Throughout this week in Denver, all of us were able to work for several ministries and organizations that are impactful for the homeless community. One of the things we did that was very impactful to me was when I did the Meet-A-Need walk, which is where my group walked around a street passing out mats and helping the homeless friends we met. During this time, my group met a man named Mark, who we were able to provide him a mat and a meal from Taco Bell. He was so appreciative of what we were able to provide him, saying how us being there for him made his day. After only talking with him for only a few minutes, we all were able to make a connection with him and hear his life story. He told us about his girlfriend, where he worked, and how he ended up living in Denver. Mark was so faithful and giving, always thinking of his girlfriend first and always having hope in what God was providing for him. Being able to meet Mark and get to listen to his story was such a blessing. This week, all of us were able to hear the life stories of other friends like Mark and it made us all open up our minds and heart a little more. Whenever we got to hear their stories, we saw how much God’s love is providing hope in their lives. As we head back home, I hope we all continue to keep this experience in our hearts and keep on being able to show kindness and love to our homeless friends back home. We all know now how important a smile can mean to someone.
Over the course of the week, the group went on many adventures and experienced new things. We were split into two groups for majority of the week but all got to encounter the same activities at different time frames. Tuesday night, our whole youth group headed to an organization called Senior Support Service (SSS) where we again divided our group in half, group one sent on a tour around the city learning about new things in town while group two went and hung out with some of the people at SSS, after finishing the tour the groups switched. Getting to spend some time at SSS was very impactful for me, I talked to multiple different people and heard a couple stories. What stood out to me most at this event was when Danno, Christian and I went out on the patio with three other men and chatted with them while they ate their dinner. We all talked for a while, but all three men were hesitant to talk at the beginning. About 15 minutes of being outside with the men, another man walked outside and seemed very excited and happy. He stood in right in the middle of all of us and said “Want to hear a joke?” and Danno said yes, so the man told us his joke and we all laughed pretty hard. After we all finished laughing this man walked right back inside without another word or even saying his name. Within 15 seconds of the man walking back inside, one of the men sitting outside with us says “I have a pretty good one” and tells us a joke. A half an hour passes and all three men shared all the jokes they could think of and everyone was continuously laughing. After all the jokes the men started to open up and share with us about their lives. By the end of the night, two of the men said talking with them and listening to them made their days. This was so incredible to me, it showed me how much being happy and open can really make someone’s day and turn an uncomfortable situation into a great experience. This opened my eyes to see how much I can accomplish just by listening to someone or telling a joke, the rest of the week I got to come in contact with more situations just as this. I believe that our whole youth group came to this realization that even doing the smaller things like saying hi or talking to someone for a few minutes can have a huge impact on people. God provided new perspectives and new opportunities for us all and I hope the lessons we have learned stick with each of us as we head back home.
Throughout the course of this week I feel like everyone in the group learned many new things. There were many moments where we had to get out of our comfort zone. Sometimes it might have felt scary, but in the end it all taught us to be brave and that god is always with us. For the majority of the week we were split us into two groups. Both groups would go out and serve in different ways. One day my group and I went out and gave out pastries to day labor workers. Day labor workers are mainly Hispanic men who get work off the streets, and they go to this facility to make sure that they are safe and get paid fairly when people need them for a job. So, first thing we did was drive to a pastry shop about 20 minutes away from the church. Then when we got there our leaders told us that we were all allowed to pick out 3 pastries each, to give out to the day laborers. In the pastry shop it smelled so good, and there were some really cool looking pastries in there. Each of us picked out our pastries then we were headed to the day labor facility. When we arrived all of us were pretty nervous because honestly all of the men looked very intimidating to just go up to. Lucy and I were partners for this so it made it easier to go out and talk to new people. We went up to this group of men and asked them if they wanted a pastry; some of them wanted one and some didn’t. Keep in mind that most of them didn’t speak English so it was also a little difficult to communicate with them. One man in the group wanted one, but he didn’t speak English. We went up to him and he started speaking in Spanish. Then I realized that I knew what he was saying, because I take Spanish in school. He was just asking simple questions like how are you and what’s your name, but it was a really cool experience. It really made me feel happy to be able to communicate with him. When we went back to ask if they wanted seconds I started talking to him again, and it really just made me feel really special. It just felt really awesome to be able to communicate with him because most of the people in the group didn’t know any Spanish. I also feel like it made him feel special because he probably didn’t expect anyone to be able to talk to him. It made me realize that I want to be able to make people feel special all the time even when they feel like they aren’t worthy of it. That is one of the lessons this week has taught me. I feel like everyone in our youth group really learned some new, great things this week, and I hope that we all take these lessons with us for when we go back home.
Stephanie & Lucy & Lily