Mission 2017 Supplemental: Why We Do What We Do

I thought I’d take a pause midway through the week to write about the “Why” behind this mission trip. After all, we got underway with a pretty sparse post and here we are, halfway in without much context, save for those who are here and/or who have sent loved ones. And with that, let’s take a moment to explore why we’re here and why we’re doing what we’re doing in Washington, D.C. and Steubenville, Ohio.
Rev. Lyndy Zabel is the Director of Missional Impact for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Through his office, he helps steer the Conference’s connections with outreach ministries and partnerships across the nation and the world. Through a Conference grant, Pastor Lyndy hoped to revive an old Conference tradition of bringing young people out east for a taste of faith meets politics. When I found out this trip to Washington, D.C. would happen during the same week that Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church traditionally goes on a mission trip, I spoke with my team about the possibility, and here we are. It’s a Conference-wide trip with teens and adults from at least six churches coming together.
This mission trip has three distinct mission fields: justice, compassion, and community. Here’s the context that participants and their families received before departure:

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Mission 2016: Stockton Day 5 – Gimme Shelter

Wednesday is a unique day for us at SSP and it was a great day, Dear Reader. Rather than work in our regular work teams comprised of people from several churches and at our regular work sites, we took on special projects as church groups. Later, we ended up at the beach for a swim and a cookout. Here’s the scoop:
The Breakfast Club
SSP Site Director, Megan, and SSP staffer, Kelsey, joined our team from Hennepin Avenue UMC to serve the breakfast meal at St. Mary’s Dining Room, the next building over from the homeless shelter some of us are working at and across the street from a tent town tragically filled with those who have no home. We could tell right away we were in for an experience that many of us had never had.
Once we were inside, we broke up into teams. One team got ready in the kitchen to get food out to serve while the other team wrapped silverware in napkins for future meals until it was time to serve the meal for the morning. See, St. Mary’s doesn’t just do breakfast, and they don’t just do it on weekdays. Rather, they do breakfast, lunch, and dinner, three meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, including holidays. That’s over 1000 meals per year, relying on volunteers, donations, and kindness. So yeah, they needed a few hundred extra forks wrapped in napkins today!
When 8:30am hit, the doors opened for breakfast. It was slow at first and then boom, the rush came inside. While almost the entire group has experience with the Community Meals ministry at Hennepin, one discernable difference is that many of the people who enjoy that meal are employed or at least in some form of housing. However, those who ate this meal were very likely homeless, perhaps even from the tents across the street. I don’t think it

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Mission 2016: Stockton Day 4 – 104 Ain't Nothin' But a Number

It was a hot one, Dear Reader, I won’t lie. It wasn’t quite hot enough to call off work, but it sure felt close. For our team, I can tell you we were very grateful we got some shade today, even though standing in the shade was hot, too. We had cookies, primer, and poetry, oh my! Here’s the scoop:
A Variety of Mornings, a Variety of Delays
Our first update is with Morghan and my work team, The Wildcats, working on repainting Jenny’s house (Sam, Erica, and Kemi are on the other side of the house in their work team, too). We’d reached the point where scraping was done and now we needed the power washer. Thing is, we didn’t have a hose. The hose the work team at the front of the house used wouldn’t come off the spigot and we had to wait for a longer hose to arrive. Before then, SSP staff Natalie and CIT Sam stopped by with homemade cookies and a discussion topic. Later, Tony showed up with the hose and

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Mission 2016: Stockton Countdown!

Hello, Dear Reader!
This week, I’m with Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church out in Stockton, California for our mission trip experience this year. I hope to sneak away here and there to write up blog posts to share about our service to God throughout the week. For new readers, welcome! For regular readers, enjoy / endure as the week goes on.
If you’re new to this blog, I recommend you either subscribe via RSS, subscribe via email, or look for posts tagged “ssp.” This way, you’ll always know exactly when the latest news and photos are available. You can also follow the @SSPStockton Twitter feed.
Here’s a little HAUMC, Stockton, and SSP context…
We’ve returned to Sierra Service Project (SSP), our first experience with them since 2014, to do service in a new setting, Stockton, California. When the housing market crash hit in 2007-2008, Stockton had the highest foreclosure rate per capita in the nation (housing values dropped a full 44%) and the city has been in recovery ever since. In 2012, it was the largest US city to declare bankruptcy until Detroit did so, too, in 2013. It’s a community that can use a

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Mission: Iowa – Day 4

This was our last full day of work as we’ll head out after lunch on Monday. There’s more than a twinge of regret as we leave several work projects left unfinished. Yet that’s the nature of a mission trip; it’s rare to be the first ones on a job and even rarer to be the … Read more

Mission: Iowa – Day 3

Today started with something pretty important – acknowledging that today is Jake’s sixteenth birthday! I pulled him into the middle of our circle of thirty-four people and he spun around as we all sang happy birthday to him. We were soon joined by local help. Connie and Alex have family living in Cedar Rapids and … Read more