Yesterday was a full day.
We broke into our serving groups (three total- see previous post for how groups are broken down) with each group doing slightly different activities. After breakfast and morning devotions, we loaded into our vehicles and 2 groups headed across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco and one group stayed in Oakland to serve. Here is what went down:
Serving Group 1 (SG1) stayed in Oakland to serve at an amazing preschool called St Vincent’s Day Home, which serves underprivileged children in Oakland. Education is a huge obstacle for many to overcome, and early childhood education can mean the difference of dropping out or succeeding in school later on. In fact, the state uses dropout rates and literacy rates to plan for and build future prisons. The lower the literacy rate, the higher the dropout rate, the bigger the prisons that will be needed. St Vincent’s does an amazing job at reaching and teaching children that are seriously at risk of falling through the educational cracks, even at 3-5 years of age. Each student in SG1 was assigned to a class and spent the morning helping the teacher play games, read stories, and love children. After working in the school, SG1 went into San Francisco to participate in a “city search”, which is a learning simulation game designed to help students learn what life is like on the streets. Each member was given $2 per person for lunch and several objectives to complete. They had to make decisions about food, and they weren’t able to just eat for themselves, they also had to get food to share with a homeless person. Quite a challenge and task to be sure.
Serving Group 2 (SG2) spent their morning working at the San Francisco Food Bank, which services many of the ministries and feeding programs throughout the city. We worked at repackaging pasta from 20 lb. sacks into 20 individual packages of 1 lb. each. We also helped make cabbages usable for ministries by peeling away the brown layers and freshening them up. After breakfast we went to a cool lunch spot, where they had a labyrinth set up over looking the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a fun hike and a beautiful spot. We then headed into the Haight Ashbury neighborhood where we were given $20 and given the task to meet someone’s need. We walked a bit, talking to a few folks, while building our courage and looking for someone who had some needs we could meet. SG2 ended up meeting a group of 4-5 homeless folks sitting on the edge of the neighborhood. After spending around 45 minutes talking with them, the group bought them a pizza for a local spot.
Serving Group 3 (SG3) spent their morning serving at the Salvation Army in San Francisco. They helped get ready for The Salvation Army’s big back to school event for low-income families. This time of year can be a huge strain on families who are struggling to make ends meet with all the extra expenses needed for school supplies, new clothes etc. This is such an important ministry for families, and our kids did an amazing job and were a big asset to the Salvation Army. After working in the morning, the group ate some lunch and headed to Grace Cathedral (which is a beautiful church created in the likeness of Notre Dame) and spent some time in the church taking in the beauty and walking the labyrinth there. In the afternoon, they headed into the Mission District to do a “meet a need” there. With their $20, they were able to buy a man lunch. They spent a considerable amount of time talking with him as they ate together. They also bought a man a jar of peanut butter at his request.
Dinner was Thai food, which even though we live in a neighborhood with a few Thai restaurants, several of the students had never had before. We ate plenty of good food and finished our evening with a prayer tour of San Francisco, learning about the different neighborhoods issues and challenges of the city.
It was a full day, and today promised to be just as busy. I can tell you that there is a lot of laughter, hard work, learning and growing that is taking place. Our students have great attitudes and are willing to jump in a work, be stretched, and are generally a joy to be with. As always, if you leave a comment on this post or anywhere else, we will read them verbatim at dinner or debrief.
Until tomorrow… until then, enjoy these photos (click on photo to start slideshow):