Day 4 proved to be another long, meaningful day of ministry and service together. Our group has been split into two service groups:
SG#1 headed over to the Salvation Army Korean Corps. Our job was to help lead a day camp that the church has been running for neighborhood kids for that past 8 weeks. The camp is for 5-13 year olds, and the kids are broken down into age group. Our job was to lead the different classes of the camp, and to lead the children around to the different classes. Our students lead games, crafts, bible and helped with tutoring. They also lead the singing time during the chapel time that started and ended the camp. Honestly the camp was super well structured and the kids were difficult at times. Our students did a great job at hanging in there, loving the campers, and not giving up. We were really proud of them. The camp started at 9:00am and went to 4:00pm, so it was quite a long day. I think despite some of the challenges, the students learned some valuable things. All in all it was a good experience for us.
SG#2 headed out to the Alameda County Food Bank where they sorted through boxes of fruit looking for the rotten ones. Plums, pears and possibly peaches were sorted through. After the morning at the food bank, SG#2 headed over to the Mission District where they were given $20 and told to go talk to some people hanging around and see if you can “meet a need” they might have. The group ended up buying some canned food for a lady, some fruit and McDonalds for another man, and they provided some conversation for another man who didn’t want anything but someone to talk with for a bit. The man who wanted conversation was a guy named Yuri who ended up having a college degree, had once held a good job, had once owned his own house, but got into drugs and ended up losing everything. It was a powerful example of the dangers of abuse and addiction. Once again, our students are breaking their own stereotypes of who the homeless are, and that even a simple conversation can make a difference for someone.
Dinner was Thai. There was a surprisingly high number of students who had never eaten Thai food before. Shrimp Pad Tai, Cashew Chicken, Broccoli Beef, and Chicken Satay was on the menu…along with white rice (so at least the less adventurous eaters had some options.) The students did great, they all tried a few new things. Following dinner, both groups ended our evening with a prayer tour of Oakland. We learned about the city and some of the unique challenges that difficulties that face here. I personally was struck that Oakland spends almost $30,000 per inmate per year and only spends $10,000 per student per year in their school systems. Oakland has the highest reoffender rate of any city in California and is in the bottom 10% of school districts in the nation. It reminds me of the saying that “it is easier to build a boy than to fix a man.” I think that holds especially true here in Oakland.
We are off on another busy day of ministry, with the exception that tonight we have a free night. We are going to surprise the students by taking them to AT&T Park for a Giants baseball game. It should be a fun break for all of us. Check back tomorrow for another update of today’s ministry activity.
Be sure to follow our twitter feed for random updates throughout the day and of course check our flickr stream for pictures. Feel free to leave a comment, I pass them onto the students, they enjoy hearing from you as well!
I will leave you with this video from a few of our students sharing with you about their experiences here in San Francisco: