Youth Mission Trip Washington DC June 2011

Our week in Washington D.C was life changing. We will never forget the way we were able to serve in God’s name. We started our Mission Trip with a prayer walk around the base of the Washington Monument and the first service project was called Street Sense. This was where we had the opportunity to sell a newspaper that talks about the homeless and it prints their stories they write. Most of the Street Sense vendors are not homeless and have jobs, they sell the newspaper to get a little extra money to help pay bills or buy food for themselves. After 2 hours of standing on the street corner I learned how most people are not very nice to the homeless. They will go out of their way to avoid them. I did sell 8 newspapers and made $11.40 to give to our vendor Veda who was the sweetest lady ever! I realized it is not easy standing in the heat trying to get people to buy a paper and I only made $5.70 an hour!! That afternoon we had two amazing speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless talk with us. Their names were Sheila and Mary Vivian, they talked to us about how they became homeless, what it was like being homeless, and how they got out of being homeless. They were normal people and had run into some very bad luck and health issues but they kept their faith. Their stories were extremely touching. Mary Vivian is also a member of Back on my Feet. That night Miss Gloriann held devotions/prayers at Jefferson Memorial based on God loves us for Who we are not What we are. No matter how mixed up, crumpled or dirty we may become, God loves us and we are all God’s children. We must always remember God is with us when we are in trouble, He is our Father in Heaven.
The next day we went to Christian Community Group Home. Our service work was helping an elderly couple around 90 years old clean their home. We were very blessed to help them out. After that we did a workshop with Karina called The Face of Hunger. In this workshop we each received a description of a real family that was homeless and each of us had to provide nutritional meals with very little money left over after paying rent and bills. Let’s just say most of our families went hungry!! Then we did a workshop with David Harris, he also told us his story on how he was homeless for 3 years living on the streets of DC. After his story he had us right down and share our most memorable moment providing service so far that week. He was a great guy. That night Miss Judy led the devotions/prayers based on Rocks, Pebbles and Sand. Rocks are the important things – God, your spouse, your family, your health. We must always remember to keep the rocks in our lives on top of the pebbles and sand, especially God. We then were able to visit the Lincoln Memorial.
Our last service day was Loaves and Fishes and Bread for the Journey. Loaves and Fishes is a soup kitchen in Columbia Heights and we prepared food, served, and cleaned up. After serving we sat with and visited the people there and listened to their stories. Bread for the Journey was when we made sack lunches and passed them out to the hungry in the city parks. We went to the park across from the White House but only found 2 homeless people there. We found a park a few blocks away with at least 25 homeless people in it. When we asked them why they do not go to the White House park they said it was too “busy’ and too ‘noisy” there. Too many people picketing in front of the White House all the time! We also got to meet some pretty amazing people there and listen to their stories of why they were homeless and what they were doing to find jobs. That night devotions/prayers were led by Mr Greg based on how people can look like Christians but some are full and some are empty in their faith. We need to remain full and share our living water. Then we were able to visit the Sculpture Garden. We ended the Mission Trip with a prayer walk in Arlington National Cemetery. We did manage to walk the Cross of the City on walks throughout the week: White House, Nations Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, and Jefferson Memorial. On Sunday night we went to the top of Washington Monument and could see the Cross of the City. That was really cool and we found out that is really does say Laus Deo on the top of Washington Monument which means Praise Be To God.
Thank you to everyone who helped us out and made it possible for us to attend this Mission Trip. My faith in God has become much stronger.  We love you and God bless! Chalise

Our mission trip in Washington D.C. . . . was amazing! What seems like an eternity ago, we journeyed to a company called Street Sense. They sell newspapers to the homeless and needy for 35 cent a piece. They then allow the homeless to resell each newspaper for $1.00. SO they make a pretty decent profit needless to say. So they let each of us get about ten newspapers. My original thoughts were "Only ten?! I'll fly through these and
grab twenty more." How wrong I was. I had no idea how rude people could be. When I would make eye contact or start speaking to them, their cell phone would suddenly need to be talked on (despite the fact that there was no ring). It was humiliating to have only sold four papers. I was selling for 1 and a half hours and I was already complaining and getting irritated. The persistence and patience it takes for them to stay out there all day and sell is something magnificent. Something one of the vendors taught me was really touching "That one smile beats all the ignoring.
The next early morning (I stayed up late playing cards) we went to a company called Community Cares. They run an elderly home, but also have homes where the elderly who don't need as much caring for can live on their own. We went and visited one of these homes. The old black couple named the Quick's. Though they were strangers, they welcomed us in like they were my own grandparents. We got started doing the intense cleaning that could not be done due to their age. The girls started work in the kitchen while some of us guys got to mowing the lawn and weed eating. Although Mr. Quick was 90, he kept the most abundant garden in his backyard filled with pumpkins, eggplant, onions, basil, etc. I was blown away by this. Once we had gotten filthy and sweaty, they kindly thanked us, and we were on our way. I'm not sure if they will remember we came there, I'm not sure they got my name. But I am sure that we made a difference to that couple and did it out of the kindness of our hearts, whether they knew it or not.
We then ventured to the soup kitchen Loaves and Fishes. This was my favorite day for a few reasons. It was grueling in the sauna of a kitchen there. But the volunteering kitchen staff stuck together and worked with us the whole time. By the time Nathan and I had finished the dishes, we were dripping in sweat. Sweat that, without a doubt, was hard earned. After handing out the food to the hungry, I was placed at a table with 3 other homeless men. We sat, ate, joked, laughed, and told stories like we were just some guys going out for lunch. It was that moment that I truly lost all prejudices of the homeless. They were just as human as me and were just down on their luck.
Each day we'd had at least one speaker come in and talk to us about their personal experience involving suffering and homelessness and hunger. Sometimes I will look at my life and hang my head in sorrow. I should slap myself the next time I do that. I am so very blessed. These people have been through it all to be honest. Virginia, for example, was just entering homelessness when she lost her job because she was diagnosed with cancer. I mean that, to me, is rock bottom. How could God put someone through all of that? But another one of the speakers told me something that I really needed to hear, "God takes the strong, and makes the stronger." That is a really powerful statement which answers a lot of my prayers, so I hope you both will think about it. One of our speakers was actually a writer and author of a book. So he had us, for 15 minutes, write about something we had experienced or someone in general. It was exciting to hear about everyone's different perspectives on how they are taking this all in. From Greg comparing it to Afghanistan, to Nathan opening his eyes to the real suffering. During all of this we have been sightseeing throughout the district during this whole time. The architecture blows my mind. I looked the Lincoln Memorial dead in the eye. We are so blessed to have seen all of this.
This will be a trip that none of us will ever forget. It has touched us in a way that we would have never imagined. But it is not just in D.C. We have this suffering even with Faith Lutheran Church. I think we need to step up and start helping out more with the hungry. We have enough food in the world that it is not even necessary that anyone be hungry. Thank you for the prayers and support. Clay

While I was in Washington DC I had a great time helping the homeless. Street Sense was a great experience. I learned that selling newspapers is harder than it looks. I then helped clean an elderly couple’s house. I had a great time with helping people that needed it. I then helped at a soup kitchen and leaned how much work goes into that. My favorite part about the volunteering, though, was when we passed out the sacked lunches. We went to the park and passed out lunches. We talked to them too.  The last guy, Chuck, was a great, knowledgeable guy.
Besides helping the homeless, or less fortunate, we got to see the different sights on our down time. We saw the capital building, the Washington monument, Jefferson memorial, Lincoln memorial, and the white house. Those were the 5 places that built up the cross. We also saw the Vietnamese memorial, Korean memorial, and the WW2 memorial. We got to see the National Cathedral. My favorite and most memorable place was Arlington National Cemetery because it was so respectful.

As I learned how to make a difference in other’s hearts I learned that those that you help will always make an impact in yours as well. I have thought that if you help people they won’t help you back. But I was wrong. This mission trip showed me that even if they might be the lowest people they still have a life that they can live, even if it isn’t like ours. I see now that I can make some changes in my life to help others who are less fortunate. It helps to know this because even if you don’t have much life could still be yours to have. I learned a lot about myself too while I was on the mission trip. I learned that even though I had to live in a women’s homeless shelter for a month I still had it easy. I had food that I didn’t have to work for but then I had to work in side in order to keep on staying there. Sometimes when a girl of nine is on the streets people pay more attention. The older you are the more they think you did something in your past that you shouldn’t have done but then the younger people have the things handed over to them most of the time. I know because I used to be like that I used to care what people would think of me if I told them I was like that. I learned that it is okay to let people know who you are and just let your light shine proudly. My street sense vendor Tommy told me that it was okay to be homeless that it was okay to let people know who you are. They might judge but they might not know what it is like. Tommy put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. I really liked Tommy because I could relate to him. As I learned from others they told me that being yourself is great even when you want to run away from that, but only you can shape your destiny around what you want. I learned all of that. Many people were very interested in who I was and what I was doing. I normally feel shy around people but this was one of the times I felt completely at home. It was like I was in my own little world with these people. They helped me as much or more than I helped them.  Dawna 

The mission trip to our Nation’s Capital was both rewarding and inspirational. From the first mission at Street Sense to our last, Bread for Their Journey, my brain was filled with knowledge and my heart was filled with understanding and compassion. These memories from the trip are infinite and unforgettable and thank you to Faith Lutheran Church for allowing this mission trip to even be possible. Being a teenager, I was never introduced or enlightened on the situations of the less fortunate and from that arose certain stereotypes such as all homeless are lazy and/or unwilling to better themselves in this world. Well, Street Sense, the very first mission, broke and changed that futile perception that I had imagined. Both Veda and Tommy, Street Sense vendors, were homeless but yet they stood on the side of the street selling papers from early in the morning to late at night, a true definition of American determination and perseverance. They weren't panhandling, they were creating their own enterprise, their own business, and now both Tommy and Veda are now living and supporting themselves with a place to call home. Their stories broke every stereotype that i concocted and now I realized that great people sometimes have to jump huge hurdles and God challenges the strong, but all these hurdles and these challenges are only to make them stronger. If you can overcome homelessness, there's not much you can't conquer. Then, the next day we assisted an elderly couple that were married for sixty years, mind-blowing isn't it? They were the nicest people in the world, but their age had caused them not to be able to do the things that us teenagers could accomplish and we were glad to help. From yard work to house work, one turned the corner, and there was one of our group members doing all that we could to spruce up their house. But the inspiration and enlightenment that came from this mission was from the ninety-year-old husband that was more active than half of the teenage population. He grew his own garden, trimmed his own plants and rose bushes and was an overall handyman, which is quite amazing for being ninety. And so finally, our missions came to a close with Bread for their Journey. We walked from the metro station to a park near the White House, but our intentions were foiled because surprisingly no homeless people were to be found, which I suppose is a good thing because if they’re not in a park I would hope there in a shelter, safe and well-fed. But then we moved parks, where my partner and I met Michael, a homeless man from the border of Canada and Maine. Sure his accent was hard to understand but his story was quite interesting. He traveled the United States in any transportation he could find because even being homeless couldn't crush his dream of traveling. And that's where the inspiration arose, if a man so down on his luck still made a conscious effort to pursue his dream, I know now in his honor, I shall never give up even when God throws those challenges upon me because I know he is only making me stronger. In God's name I traveled to D.C. in hope in of affecting the the lives of others but I come home a new man affected forever by those I met, Tommy, the Quicks, and Michael. Thank you Gloriann, Judy, Greg and the Faith Lutheran community for this opportunity and I walk away from this with a new state of mind and memories that only a fool will forget.  Nathan

My journey to Washington DC really gave me a look at how it feels to help Gods creation. In this time I spent in DC I realized average working people are rude to the homeless and poor, and I also learned not all homeless or poor are illiterate. On the first day we went to help the homeless we went to a company called Street Sense. Street Sense is a nonprofit organization that allows the homeless or poor to buy newspapers for 35 cents and sell them for a dollar and keep the money made. So we arrived and were grouped up with two Street Sense users, Tommy and Vita. I was paired up with Tommy. He put me by an ATM and a bunch of free newspaper dispensers and this is the point where no one usually buys them. So I sold 6 newspapers and made $12.00. This was all given to Tommy. This event really gave me an idea of helping others and respecting others. This pushed me towards God and his word by showing me there are always 2 sides to things and helping others. Zach



Tons of fun was had by all 27 youth and young adults joining in the

Vessels For Honor rafting trip. We were surrounded by one of

God's beautiful creations; Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

We praise the Lord that we once again were able to

participate in another awesome gathering!

Please click on the link to see photos:




Youth Gathering New Orleans July 2009



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