Day three definitely was a full day!! It started early with a quick breakfast, and devotions. We then piled into our vans and headed across the Bay Bridge to the San Francisco Food Bank. We learned a bit about the food bank and how it get food to the various organizations who use it to feed people. Our job for the morning was to break down 100lb bags of rice into 1lb bags. Our group and few other volunteers were able to process 330olbs of rice.
After our time at the food bank, we all went to the Golden Gate bridge, where we walked across the bridge, prayed, and experienced a bit of San Francisco chill in the air! Once we all made it across the bridge, we headed back towards the Civic Center to begin an activity known as a “city search.” We were split into groups, and given objectives for the next 4 hours. We were told to try and learn from people what life in the city was like. We were asked to see if we could find services that an immigrant or homeless person might need, like shelter, medical, social services etc… We were also each given $2.00 a piece for lunch and told we had to use only that for our lunch. Our groups were mainly concentrated in the SOMA area and in the Tenderloin District . I’m pretty sure that each of the three groups pooled their money together to buy bread, peanut butter (or honey when one group couldn’t find peanut butter) and jelly. Groups then wandered through their respective neighborhoods looking for some folks to talk to. Each group was able to overcome initial fears (talking to people on the streets is not a normal thing we usually do, let alone talk to folks who might be homeless), and have some pretty meaningful interactions with people. We met men and women with all kinds of stories about life that they were willing to share. We had folks warn us about the dangers of neighborhoods like the Tenderloin. We heard stories about time spent in Vietnam, about broken families, about life on the streets. We learned from shop keepers about the cycle of abuse and addiction that lots of people in these neighborhoods are victims of. One group met a woman who needed some water, and just was glad for the opportunity to talk with some people…she told us how lonely life is when you are disadvantaged (she wasn’t homeless, but spent lots of time on the streets). She talked about a desire for change in her life and understood that it was something she needed. We prayed with her when we finished talking with her, and she expressed to me how meaningful that short 30 minutes was for her, and how she needed that.
It turned out to be a pretty good experience for most everyone. It was interesting that we were identified several times as Christians by folks passing by. We were thanked, and told that we were loved for what we were doing. A simple act of giving someone dignity through a conversation, someone who is ignored by most people, almost immediately marked us as Christians. It was quite refreshing to be labeled something because of our actions rather than because of the many other things Christians get labeled for. It reminds me of how the first Christ followers were labeled “little Christs” or Christians because of their actions. Today, we were like little Christs on the streets of San Francisco, and people took notice.
When we were finished, we took a few minutes to goof around in City Hall (only in San Francisco) which consisted of laying on the floor, looking up at the domed ceiling and sliding down the stairs…like I said, only in San Francisco. You can imagine we drew some attention, and many of the tourist quickly were more interested in video taping and snapping pictures of us rather than the building itself. We then ate dinner on the lawn of the Civic Center (chicken or lamb gyros) and we finished our time out with a quick stop at Ghiradelli Square for some ice cream. We then headed back to our housing site where we debriefed, prayed, talked and finally got ready for bed…like I said, it was a long, filled day.
I have uploaded more pictures from the day on our flickr, feel free to check em out.
We have another long day planned. One service group will be working with the Salvation Army Korean Corps helping with their summer camp and the other group will be working at another ministry site. I may not be able to get much video or pictures today, due to the sensitivities with the children. Check back tomorrow for more stories from today, and of course, if you want quick little random snapshots of our day check out our twitter feed, and if you are inclined and have the know-how follow us and tweet us!
As I finish, I want you to know that your kids are doing great!! They are a fun group to lead and be with.