Occasionally at CSM, we get to see the fruits of our labor. As many in urban ministry know, it's rare to be able to hear how the Lord is using you in tangible ways, but so awesome when you do!
Check out this recent reflection from a gal named Brigit:
When we first drove up to the housing site, I was freaking out because of the graffiti and the run down look of the neighborhood (and our van could barely fit through the gate), and when we got out, no one could breathe because of the smog in the air. But when we went on the prayer tour with Jon and Heather, I wasn't sad necessarily, just compassionate. I was amazed that just as we went past Skid Row, within minutes everyone in the van including me had completely forgotten about it and moved on to the skyscrapers.
The next day, when we went to Home Depot, I thought it would be so hard handing out pastries (to the day laborers). But I loved it. It was one of my favorite things on the whole trip; the sincere smiles that they gave us when we handed out the food and when we were praying for them, even though they couldn't understand us.
That was everyone's first eye-opener to what LA was really like. When we went to MacArthur Park after that, I was shocked to learn that a place that looked so beautiful on first glance was a battlefield of drugs each night. Right in front of us was where they had filmed "Hotel for Dogs", and right behind us was where gang members shot each other as soon as the sun went down. We were slowly starting to learn that LA was not what we thought it would be.
The next day was another one of my favorite activities. All of us went to the Salvation Army Red Cross Center and helped out with kids. I had a little boy named Richard follow me all afternoon, and I will never forget him.
The next day, Wednesday, was our day for helping out with the Midnight Mission. I think that this was the favorite thing I did, but I can't really say why. I just liked it. As we were cleaning off the tables there, a woman said to me, Where are you guys from? when I said Sacramento, she said, "Wow that's so far. I can't believe kids are taking their own time to help us. Thank you."
Lastly, I loved the walk around where we wandered the streets of LA with five dollars to spend on people. We had an amazing time with that. We met a man who we had prayed for the other night, and we prayed for him again. Then the 8th graders took him out to lunch on their scavenger hunt. I could tell the Lord was with him that week. Me and my group will never forget the people that we prayed for.
Everyone was sad to leave. Everyone had formed incredible bonds that will never break because of our shared memories. Every so often, I text my friends to see if they are continuing to pray for the people in their lives that we talked about needing to pray for. (We did this at a park when Jon shared his story about loving Josh).
I have noticed the change in my friends and especially in myself that came as the impact of our trip. I'm not afraid to sit with the lonely kid at school anymore, and when someone teases me, I just don't care. I know that it's God speaking through me as a result of the life-changing experiences during my spring break LA trip. I have been looking for after school volunteer sites like the Red Shield. Since God has blessed me with writing, I am writing a book about my experiences. I hope to continue mission trips like this one and continue to have God work in my life. Thanks for the amazing experiences and for turning my life around.
Have you served with CSM in the city? Tell us about it - email firstname.lastname@example.org!