Mission 2018 Day 2: Here we come, Detroit!

Welcome to Day 2 (of 8, if you’re wondering), a day mostly in the van and in our bunks. Despite that, here’s the scoop.
Wakey, Wakey, Eggs n’ Bakey!
We were able to have a nice, leisurely wake up on Sunday, with a round of showers followed by a bagel breakfast. Cross Winds UMC was already up and off to Minnesota by the time we loaded up. We managed to leave nothing behind, either, except one towel. Which really, that’s not bad for a group of 20.
The drive to Detroit was smooth and a few of us enjoyed Steak ‘n Shake, some for the first time and to rave reviews. Like yesterday, the vans were a mix of sleeping, music, and games. I’ll offer that traffic in downtown Chicago or the interstate was great, but getting into Detroit was more harrowing. Drivers were fast, ducking and weaving between other cars at top speeds. Yeah, those final 20 minutes into the city were not my favorite driving experience.
Detroit Rock City
The first thing we noticed entering Detroit was the juxtaposition. Well-kept, beautiful buildings. Broken-down abandoned buildings. Sometimes side by side, and not with any pattern I can discern, though I’m sure someone who knows the history of the city much better than me can tell you why this house is still standing and  this house is a goner.
I won’t pretend to know the whole story on Detroit. I’m not even sure anybody truly has the full story. What I do know is it’s had a rough patch, and not just during and after its 2013 bankruptcy. It takes years for the sort of city-wide dilapidation we witnessed to occur, Dear Reader, and while only a handful of specific, intentional methods are getting it cleaned up it took many, many reasons to get it to where it is now. Likewise, it will take many years and efforts for true turnaround to occur. As Mayor Mike Duggan says of his time in office, “My job is to lay the groundwork,” he said. “It’s going to take a series of mayors and a series of years to get it where we need to be.” My hunch is the work Motown Mission does is similar. It takes a series of weeks, teams,k and years to get it where we need to be.
Our Site: Metropolitan UMC
Home base is Metropolitan United Methodist Church,  a church with a gigantic footprint of a building! Rev. Sarah is appointed to run Motown Mission out of this central hub and she oversees a small seasonal staff who each have a specialty area, from community partnership liaisons to kitchen patrol. Personally, I’m excited to be at a United Methodist mission outpost in a United Methodist Church building. That’s not the marker of excellence, by any means, but for me it goes a long way with credibility and it’s a major reason why we’re here now.
After Kyra gave us a brief tour of the highlights – cafeteria, evening gathering space, showers, etc. – we had a spaghetti dinner and Evening Gathering (EG) with all the other groups. There are around 70 guest volunteers on-site this week. Many are United Methodist, most are from Michigan, and of course, because really, why not, some are from Minnesota. Besides us, I mean! Indeed, there’s an adult mission group from The Grove United Methodist Church in Woodbury and Cottage Grove, MN. I haven’t personally met any of them before today, but all the people who I’ve met from The Grove, from clergy to laity to teens, have been pretty awesome and they’re definitely following suit!
At Evening Gathering (EG), the groups get a chance to mingle a little bit. EG is a time and place that’s one-part worship, one-part orientation and sharing. A few songs, a few rules, and a few discussion topics later, and we were feeling prepared for the week ahead. The staff are friendly and while obviously tired from a long summer – we are the 8th of an 8-week season – their spirits are up and they know the importance of the work we’re doing. I’m glad to see an invested staff who want this to succeed.
“Team Discovery Channel!”
When EG ended, we had a final debrief together as our team of 20. Motown has divided our work week into two teams, so the adult leaders discerned how we could best team up as leaders and then parsed out the teens and young adults to join us. We have mostly the same schedule with alternating worksites and two days of everyone working together at the same locations. Overall, one team gets a little more hands-on construction work, one team gets a few days in shorts instead of jeans. Trade offs, you know! Our teams are as follows:
Team #1 – John Wesley’s Gracemobile:

  • Pastor Kent J.
  • Greg L.
  • Mary M.
  • Anna J.
  • Julia G.
  • Ellie K.
  • Maya O.
  • Julia S.
  • Ryan O.
  • Jamie J.

Team #2 – Charles Wesley’s Holy Roller:

  • Pastor Nate M.
  • Maren J.
  • Kemi O.
  • Kira L.
  • Sean C.
  • Asher T.
  • Ava K.
  • Evelyn L.
  • Jenna H.
  • Cole D.

Everyone received a small Home Depot apron to customize with her or his own decoration, a mini keychain ballpoint pen and a colorful pocket-size notebook cahier to take notes about her or his experience, and all were assigned to a chore team to help out with rotating responsibilities like meal set-up or clean-up. While we decorated our aprons, we went over some expectations by having people share what they’re excited about, what will help them feel successful, what they’re uncertain about, and what’s the worst thing that could happen. Essentially, it was the “We’re all in this together and God loves everyone” Talk that’s integral to this sort of new adventure. It’s like every mission trip needs to start with a little bit of a letter from Paul, Galatians-style!
That about wraps it up for Sunday. We played some card games and relaxed but mostly we kept it low-key before we enter our first full work day on Monday. Looking forward to telling you all of our exploits in home repair and neighborhood beautification!
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