That bus can't get here soon enough!
-senior worship was transformative
-there were tears. "If you weren't cryin' you were lyin' " #overheadatSPF
-they stayed up till an ungodly hour
-but ALL WILL MAKE WORSHIP AT 9AM TOMORROW TO TALK ABOUT THE TRIP
-we walked to a playground this morning to wear 'em out more
-then dunkin' donuts, especially for Charlie, and Elusive Emily T
-waiting for the coach bus now. Plus Can Jam, what we're bringing home game, and vegging out in our piles of stuff
When we get home, all (mandatory) will do a quick closing prayer and circle, then to home, or vacation, or camp, or VBS (what what!) or whatever comes next!
-Rev's signing out.
(Meeting Jesus at the Magic Gardens, yesterday.)
Today was a good day. We walked down to the Magic Gardens on South street where the artist .... turned a whole house into a mirrored mosaic’ed palace of imagination and fantasy. I hope your kids show you some photos-- what a treat!
Here’s our Official Group Shot of the week:
Then, we gave them some time to wander on South Street and grab some food. Some of the boys picked up what is called the Philly Taco- a cheesesteak wrapped in a pizza. Personally, my stomach turns just even THINKING about that. But if you’re wondering why your homes and bathrooms are wrecked and you have a teenage boy on the trip, that’s it, right there.
And we walked back in families, and they’re working on their affirmations now.
Senior worship, tonight, and maybe we’ll order some Chinese food. It’s nearby. (just kidding. We didn't.)
And go to bed tonight at a reasonable hour. Ha. (One can dream.)
Davies Matthews Band
Today the Davies Matthews Band (with Tim and Erik, without Charlie) went to New Jerusalem, a home for recovering addicts. We sat with them in a sharing circle and heard each persons life stories and struggles with addiction .
I walked into the New Jerusalem home today expecting to hear about people who were struggling daily with their addictions. As I have been a guest at a couple of these meetings over the years I thought I knew what to expect. I was sure I would hear stories of troubled pasts, abuse, violence in the home and certainly story after story about relapse and how bad things were in the lives of those sharing. There was abuse and crime. There was violence and heartbreak. There was unemployment and loss. There was poverty and families pulled apart and destroyed by the ravage of drugs. There were all of things that seemed to typically be a part of the discussion surrounding addictions menace to humans.
What I did NOT expect to see was so much hope. So much grace, so much love , so much community. I was simply overwhelmed by it. So much so that as we finished the sharing circle I started to feel a swelling of emotion growing inside of me. Visibly I was starting to lose it and Brenda, one of the members, saw this, came over to me and offered me a hug. At that point the tears were unstoppable and poured out in sobs on her shoulder. I cried. I cried hard. I was filled with so many unexpected feelings. And, I was inspired. I was moved. What I was hearing that New Jerusalem's program is WORKING. People are recovering and not relapsing. These people with the help of Sister Margaret and crew were creating a community. A community where each person is responsible to themselves AND to the group. They help each other. THEY are the experts in their experience and they are the ones expected to do the work. And it IS working. (Instead of a top-down medical model.) New Jerusalem has people coming in to research the way in which it is working, because it's so different from other programs.
I lost my sister to a drug overdose almost ten years ago and I think that I was feeling hurt and sad. Sad that this program wasn't available to my loved one. Sad that this is the only place I know of that is doing this kind of work in the way that they are doing it and that this is not the model we as a society are using.
And yet, I am hopeful that the word is getting out. I intend on doing some of the informing. The love and care and message was clear...drugs don't discriminate and their only job is to destroy.
I knew the closing prayer well, when we said it, from the years of journeying with my sister:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
"The Green Machines"
I entered Broad Street Ministry through a narrow alley and into their back door. I began taking in my surroundings: volunteers hurrying to get ready for a task unknown to me, chefs preparing a meal also unknown to me, hallways leading to other rooms...
What was I doing here? What needs to be done? I received my first instruction to fill water jugs and then transport them to a dining hall. The sous chef, Franklin, brightened up and introduced himself the moment I turned the faucet on. He began telling me directions of how to get to the dining hall, and how much of a pleasure it was to be working with SPF today; the fact that other people shared his passion for extending a hand filled him with constant joy.
Finally getting a sense of my surroundings, and having finished filling the water jugs, I headed toward the dining hall. I climbed the stairs of the church to where the dining hall was, turned the corner, and my jaw dropped.
I've been to a few soup kitchens in Boston during the 2012 SPF mission trip, but never have I seen a dining area such as this. Beautiful origami birds hanging from the high ceiling, tables with cloth and center pieces neatly placed through out the large gathering space, upbeat music being played through speakers. I was in shock the entire time I was placing the water jugs on each table.
It was then that I began to realize the message Broad Street Ministry was promoting: nobody is better than the person next to them, no one deserves to eat in a crummy corner. The volunteers ate with the other guests of Broad Street Ministry. I later learned that people even under the influence of alcohol were allowed in, with the mind set that those guests are safer in the church than on the street.
Some SPFers were food servers, others conversed with the guests. My job was to put together "personal care" packages. How this system works is before and during the meal, guests fill out a slip of paper with items and check boxes already listed. Some of these items are "shampoo," "deodorant," "tooth brush," and even "underwear." Underwear of all sizes and styles up to the guests personal choice. The slip was turned into me, and then I would go to a storage room and quickly fill a paper bag with the requested items of the guest. This operation extended beyond the distribution of food; we were giving people basic items that we often take for granted.
And the people were so grateful! So joyous! Every time I handed a bag over, I would be thanked two, three, four times. Many of these guests were so optimistic about the help they were offered. I felt like I had to raise my happiness level up to match these people. It was amazing!
Broad Street Ministry even did a similar process for all articles of clothing. I didn't participate in that operation, but I was seeing this system in action with the purpose of providing people who sought help the help they required. And sometimes the guests came in only for a conversation. When I finished packing personal care bags, I began talking to this one guest. He talked about his dreams of traveling across the country, about his passion for American history. I was learning so much about this individual, who so often in his past didn't feel like an individual, but rather a "thing" that wasn't allowed to dream.
I was touched, tears were building in my eyes. It was driven home to me today that fortune can't completely separate bodies of people. The guests and us SPFers had really similar dreams, of traveling, of learning. And why shouldn't we have similar dreams? We are all human, and I'll never forget that.
"The Pink Squad"
It was an early day for the pink squad, but it was arguably the best one. We had to wake up at 6:30, and had to be at Philabundance at 8:30. Somehow, we all got up, showered, and found ourselves on the road at 7:45. We were yawning and falling asleep, but we made it there by 8:00.
It was an interesting time at Philabundance. We were all so excited to be back, and step into the meat locker today, a day which felt 105 degrees. Thinking first come, first serve, we waited for assignments to be made. Finally, when the time came around, we realized were too late. Another group already asked for the meat locker. Here we were, stuck in the main warehouse, sorting canned goods. The second we settled in, we all longed for the meat storage. And then we realized what goods were coming through: tons and tons of food that would be going to the people of New Jerusalem, and then we felt overjoyed. We settled in, and starting enjoying every bit of it. We turned the conveyer belt into our playhouse. Brian, Josh, and Nick started at the beginning of the line, hoarding the cans, and then unleashing them for all of us down the line to jump around trying to collect them. It was a lot of screaming and fun.
The second half of the day was spent in the meat locker. Although we didn't do much, we had a great time. We had bonded in a way I had never seen. By the end of the shift, we missed the conveyer belt more than the meat freezer, but enjoyed the day of work all the same. It was just fantastic.
On the way back we stopped for the 4th time at Philadelphia Pretzel, the best pretzel place in the world. I had a cheese steak pretzel, which honestly is better than it sounds, and then we went to the stop.
When we arrived home from the work day, we had to cook. Our family, being the best in the world, decided to make a 5 star dinner. We had to cook left overs, but with the help of Head Chef Brian and Chief Architect/Floor Planner Tim (plus the whole fam!) we were able to make the best dinner ever.
Once dinner ended, we had to clean, which sounds a lot easier than it was. Reagan, Ally and I all walked in, and were greeted with hoses that sprayed us, and turned into a 30 minute water fight between everyone in the family. Im not sure who shot first, either Josh, Jamie or Sean, but the second they shot, it felt like the longest water fight ever. The floors were soaked, our clothes poured rain, and we couldn't stop laughing. It was awesome. Although we eventually cleaned, we had the best water fight in a kitchen ever.
The day was awesome. I couldn't ask for a better family for the week. We have bonded so much over the week, and now with the week wrapping up, Im sad that its ending. We still have two solid days, so our family will do even more things.
Davies Matthews Band: Today we were able to get some much needed extra sleep, as we weren't woken up until 9:30! Our family stayed at the church we are staying at and helped the church coordinator with a current campaign that she needed help promoting. We made plaster hands that we later painted and decorated, that will be scattered around the church to show "giving a hand" to the campaign. Old First Reform is currently trying to get funds for a new area that can assist groups trying to help the community, like SPF. For lunch, we enjoyed the #hoagiefest2014 sponsored by our very good friends @Wawa. We waited in line in Liberty Square for a half hour in temperatures that felt as if they were over 100 degrees. It was all worth it when we received our free hoagie, chips, dessert and cold drink. We spent the afternoon back at the church writing affirmations to everyone on the trip and enjoying the nice air conditioning in the church!
Our family later traveled to a place called Chosen 300 which is a location for struggling individuals to come and hear the word of God and also receive a nice meal. This foundation serves 100,000 pounds of foods throughout the year, and has 3 different locations within Philly and several outside of the United States. We served around 100 individuals with a nice hearty meal of chicken, mac and cheese, vegetables and cold water. The people that run this religion based organization had a very different way of supporting people in the community that came to get their meal. The main director went around asking random people sitting down waiting for a meal what they had done today, yesterday and what they plan to do tomorrow. One man answered that he had just spent time enjoying the city and being stress-free.
They very greatly promote getting out and trying to find a job or getting an education, and therefore he kicked this man out of the building because he wasn't going to serve someone who wasn't making the necessary steps to improve himself.
The people who run Chosen 300 also strongly believe that you must speak out in order to receive the word of God, and many of us found this very different from our beliefs. At Wapping Community Church, we often say and think that everyone is welcome and will always be supported by God in all aspects of life. This was truly an eye opening experience for me and many other in my family, as we were able to see many different perspectives that we were not accustomed to. On our walk home we discussed our experiences and took a fun ride on a local carousel! Overall, another great day at #wccmissiontrip2k14!
-Emily T. :)
Today we helped our around the church site that we have been staying at for the past few days. Our family worked on cleaning the nursery. Our tasks were to wash the toys and organize the room so the kids could have a cleaner place to play. We also weeded the brick pathway and picked up trash so the church had a better curb appeal. Then we organized the church's library in order to donate unneeded books to children in need. After lunch with #hogiefest2014 from @Wawa we walked, because the bus broke down, to a very hot church on Broad Street. Here we helped set up and serve a dinner to about 320 people. We also helped run a clothing closet to help out people that needed new summer or work clothes. Later on we all had dinner which was pasta and meatballs cooked by the green machine and played the animal game.
-The Pink Squad
The Green Team today made breakfast for shut-ins. We formed an assembly line and packed various foods into individual bags. Not only that but we made greeting cards to send with the food, with the idea that it could brighten a persons day. Hopefully they accomplished that, we didn't get to see the individual packages sent, however we brought the boxes of breakfast along a walk and a bus trip to the office where they would be shipped out. Then we returned home (we bought Dunkin's on the way!) to plan what we'd do for worship and dinner, although a lot of time was spent doing our affirmations. We decided to center our worship around the story of Jesus feeding over 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and some fish. We talked about how we can accomplish more with Jesus's help.
-The Green Machines
Davies Matthews Band: Jason here to talk about the great day our family had! Today the family and I visited the Community Living Room, a nice space and place of therapy and consultations or those facing difficult life decisions and those fighting HIV/AIDS. Upon arrival we meet saw that the Green Machine had already begun work re-painting and touching up the 14th floor of the huge building. After all the hype of meeting Corn Bread the turtle we had an excellent tour of the space and some of the changes to it that had already taken place. We saw the waiting room, the dining room, some of the worker offices, and the wonderful NEW music therapy room transformed out of an old closet by the Green Machine. We heard stories of how right after the room was made, many visitors ran into the room and began making beautiful music (something that touches my heart especially). After the tour of the nice space we noticed that there weren't many people around besides some workers in the office. Sadly, the inservice was closed so there was no day service. I think we were all excited to meet some folks and hear the stories and share some good times. Even though they weren't there, we still knew that our work was truly meaningful to them. The main project for the family was to finish painting the waiting room and to touch up the paint job in the hallways. I was assigned to touch up the hallways with Katie and Tyler. I think we all thought that touch up would be easier, but we soon learned that you had to pay VERY close attention to detail in those hallways! After about and hour or two the three of us were starting to get a little tuckered out and getting a little lazy with some of the painting, (don't tell Chris)! But the people working at the center were very eager to help out with some of the details and give us some good tips on painting to keep things from getting too messy. Their help really showed me personally how all these people's kindness carries through to all of the people that they work with everyday. Some people with more difficult challenges than others, but challenges none the less. To end our day at the work site we helped take some old items from a storage room to donate to local thrift shops which are family had a fun time visiting and shopping yesterday. An overall truly good day and can't wait for the rest of the week with my awesome church family!
-Jason St. Denis
Green Machines: It's Emily! I'm here to tell you about our day at New Jerusalem. It's a place where addicts and people who are trying to recover go to get a second chance at life. These people could have been there for 3 days to 9 years. We got to sit in on an NA/AA meeting (Narcotic and alcohol anonymous) and the people loved getting us involved. We heard the stories and one that touched me was the story of this great girl named Latifa. She was 23 and had a 7 year old son. She was an addict and was in the process of getting her life back. She loved meeting all the kids and to us she was really just one of us. She also loved Josh!
We also met this man who had been going to New Jerusalem since 2003. He had been clean for years at a time but he then relapsed and is trying to be clean again. The people were not forced to tell their stories but they all were very happy to. They really tried to express how drugs and alcohol messed up their lives and they don't want the same to happen to us. After eating lunch, we broke up into small groups and finished all sorts of jobs.One group helped with the composting, gardening and weeding and even got sprayed off with the hose. One group went to the ladies house and helped organize and did some cleaning. They got gifts from one lady who was very grateful. The last group that I was in went to one of the mens houses and helped paint, pick up trash, and clean a hanging chandelier. The men were eager to help and one of the men even sang for us. He was so happy and just wanted to show his gratitude. Beth Stearns and I were painting a railing when this man came over to sit with us. He said how without God he wouldn't be here and God is the one who gave him his second chance at life. He explained how many of his friends don't believe in God and that he feels called to tell his story to as many people as possible. He began to tear up when he talked about God, but he said it was normal and that he is just so grateful for everything in his life, that he can't even express his gratitude. It was so touching.
After doing some jobs, we played frisbee with a man who said before how he lost his childhood due to addiction, and playing frisbee made him feel young again. After finishing some work and wrapping up, we made the closing circle. Everyone shared how they were thankful, and then Jamie proceeded to pass out from dehydration. He was fine and the thankful people gave us orange juice and snacks for Jamie, but... they were really for us. Overall, today the green machines learned how just listening to people tell their stories can change your life. These people are choosing to turn their lives around and are allowed to leave if they want, but many stay and go to meetings every day. They all have one thing in common and that is that they are all dedicated to God and recovery.
We were very productive today, to say the least. Our group, the Green Machines, and the Pink Panthers combined forces at the main house for the New Jerusalem organization. We found many things in disrepair and things that just needed some time to fix. Teddy Tavernier, Evan Gonzalez, Brian Arnesen, and myself (Alex B.) were presented a challenge. We were set to the task of restoring a long- dry pond. After some heavy duty cleaning, experimenting with vacuums, cleaning out the tubing, and fixing the pump, the pond used for reflection and thought was in better shape than it ever was before. The entire time, we received help and moral support from the New Jerusalem residents, who were truly grateful. We, as a group, also did minor tasks such as gardening, watering, and weeding, fixing an old rotted step, minor electrical work (with adult supervision), and a door repair. Some of the group will go back to the same organization this Thursday.
Pink Panthers: They worked with the group above. Teddy contributed to the above blog post, too....
Chris reporting in. After our work day, we took the kids for cheesesteaks, and y'all can ask them whether they went Pat's or Gino's. I'm not into cheesestakes, myself, but when in Philly.... do as the 'delphains do. I'm not sure they call themselves 'delphians, but I just did. Anyway.
We walked to the BRAND NEW Spruce street Harbor park full of hammocks and lights and fun times. There, we found a great spot where the Pink team led worship.
Then we saw fireworks above the river today. It was a good day.