Thursday, August 07, 2008
From the moment these 34 individuals stepped outside their vehicles with hearts and bags full, they had no idea what this week would hold.
The first group to arrive was from Michigan, who had already come last year! As their 34 legs stepped out of the vans, you could see the twinkle in their eyes as they braced themselves for “another” week here in Toronto. They were so remarkably impacted by the people they served, the stories they heard, and the things they saw, so much that they took this programming back home to serve those in their own communities.
For the second group, they too had come last year; however, it was only a 20 minute drive from their suburbs just outside the city of Toronto. Shortly after their arrival, goodbyes in Chinese filled the air and tender embraces were exchanged as this group of 12 saw their families off. For them this city of Toronto was their very own “backyard”.
Where would God take these groups, who would they see and who would they meet and just who would they serve. Together how would God use these relationships to teach them something new about the city of Toronto?
From work in various soup kitchens, soccer ministries, shut in programs, neighborhood programs, to city squares, both groups met people that had major influences on them. These are just some of the snippets of their week here:
“The highlight of my week was talking to Bernie, a 70 year old, who volunteers every Thursday at St. Frances table. He came here to Toronto for a better life after leaving communist Poland. It was a joy having him tell me what life was really like. He was so excited to share his story to someone who wanted to listen.”
“This really inspired me to use my resources, especially my time in doing outreach and sharing God’s love with those who do not receive love from others.”
“I saw God alive in the smiles of the clients. They are living in these conditions but are able to be joyful.”
“I have seen God alive in the city when He has supported and guided me throughout the whole trip.”
Some of you may never come into direct contact with the streets of Toronto; however, you too can be part of this amazing adventure. Simply by hearing some of these stories can cause you to dive right in and get your hand soiled in prayer. Here you will hear the joyous cry of some and heartfelt laughter of another. That’s right! Through prayer you are right in the action laboring alongside us calling out to our Heavenly father.
This is just a glimpse of the adventure God has taken us on.
I leave you with the traveler’s prayer:
"May it be Your will, Lord, My God and God of my ancestors, to lead me, to direct my steps, and to support me in peace. Lead me in life, tranquil and serene, until I arrive at where I am going. Deliver me from every enemy, ambush and hurt that I might encounter on the way and from all afflictions that visit and trouble the world. Bless the work of my hands. Let me receive divine grace and those loving acts of kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all those I encounter. Listen to the voice of my appeal, for you are a God who responds to prayerful supplication. Praised are you, Lord, who responds to prayer."
Until then Peace and Joy!
-Jessica, CSM Toronto City Host Summer 2008