Sunday has arrived, Dear Reader, and it’s our first day with SSP and in Stockton. But first, a little time in the Bay Area and a stop at an old Civil War fort to toss around the football. Here’s the scoop:
That’s Pretty Red for a “Golden” Gate
Miracle upon miracle, we left our hotel promptly on time, 9:00am on the dot! It was perfect timing for us to caravan to the Golden Gate Bridge and visitor’s center. We have a system where teens draw lots to see which vehicle they’re in as we travel to help build community and avoid cliques, even the accidental ones. Our vans are code Blue, Red, Green, and Orange.
The GGB was pretty cool. I’ve been to SF before, but I hadn’t actually walked on it. Most of the group took advantage of the opportunity, though we didn’t have enough time to walk to even the first suspension beam (much to Ian’s chagrin). The bridge was fogged in so we couldn’t quite see the tops but we were impressed, overall. Oh, and of course, there was a gift shop for all of your GGB swag needs.
Pointing Out History
Fort Point is an historic Civil War fort right below the southeastern tip of the GGB (which, obviously, wasn’t there at the time). It was heavily staffed in the 1860s in case of invasion trying to disrupt shipping supply routes. Today, the fort is a free site care of the National Park Service and we explored a slew of rooms, including barracks, officer quarters, the armory, and gunnery decks. Elliot and Ty tossed the football around, while Drew, Sean, and Nick were disappointed the rusty old lighthouse at the top of the fort had been blocked off by a big metal bar gate. Sorry, fellas, it’s for your eyes only.
Last Stop: Berkeley
We called ahead to SSP to ask about the sleeping situation. Usually for a mission trip involving flights, we’d have everyone bring a sleeping bag to the airport and stuff them into oversized duffel bags. However, SSP said the sleeping quarters aren’t air conditioned and sleeping bags will definitely prove too warm. So instead, we encouraged everyone to bring a sheet and/or light blanket and we’d rent mattress pads.
So that’s what we did, stopping by the REI in Berkeley to rent some mattress pads. The staff was friendly and they were so helpful for our mission trip. Thanks, REI Berkeley! After lunch at Chipotle (next store to REI) and getting last-minute supplies in Walgreens (next store to Chipote!), we were on the road to Stockton – a mere 90-minute trip from Berkeley, which is nothing for those who were on our SSP-affiliated mission trip in 2014 when the drive to Smith River was 6+ hours.
SSP, Stockton, and Central UMC
We have been so grateful for the hospitality we’ve seen so far. As soon as our vans pulled up, SSP staff ran out to greet us with warm smiles and helpful hands. I could tell we’re all set for a great week.
Central UMC is our host congregation and it’s a great location. The Fellowship Hall is out dining area, relaxation area, and sleeping area with women on one side and men on the other. The sanctuary is in another building with an outdoor atrium connecting the two parts of the building (there is a third building on the campus housing classrooms, the fireside room, and a day care). Now, this is a set-up you don’t see in Minnesota every day – an outdoor area in-between the sanctuary and fellowship hall. I wonder if perhaps a hearty church in Minnesota wants to give it a try for the winter, see what happens…
Our first meal was baked potatoes and chili followed by some icebreaker games for the teens and a meeting (Yay, meetings!) for the adult volunteers (called adult counselors) and SSP staff (called staff). We figured out our projects and work teams so we could be ready to go when we reconvened later in the evening.
These Are Your Weekly Work Teams
Our entire group, which is over 60 volunteers from several churches (they’re all from California, we’re the only out-of-staters) was mixed up amongst several work sites. We got together as a big group to break into smaller groups. These work groups will be together all week long to get our special project underway. Some of us will continue the work of groups from the summer (we’re attending during Week V of VII for participants) and others are starting brand-new projects.
Once in our groups, we got together to assign daily tasks such as the Hydration Specialist who fills the water jugs and brings them out to the vans each day, created a covenant that will help us have a healthy relationship, and came up with a group name, including The Bee’s Knees, Lights Out, Tree Huggers, Optimists Prime, and The Wildcats (that’s my group). HAUMC participants are all split up, with one group having four of us and other groups having 2-3 apiece. Work groups are between 5-8 people or so.
Lights out came earlier than many participants are probably used to – 9:00pm. Of course, having all of the teens turn in their phones probably helps that quite a bit. Tomorrow is a big day of safety training, information about our work sites, and our first visits to the work sites. Take a look at the photos and thanks for your comments, Dear Reader! See you tomorrow!