On Saturday, August 8 at 5:00 am, we left with 11 other people from Hillcrest Baptist Church to head to New York City for our mission trip. I have to say that I was really nervous about the whole thing. I felt totally unprepared and uninformed. However, it went SO well... it was much less scary than I imagined and really a lot of fun. That's not to say it wasn't challenging- it definitely was- but the good outweighed the bad by far.
We stayed and worked at Park Slope Community Church in Brooklyn, NY. Brooklyn was awesome- we liked it so much more than Manhattan. We arrived Saturday night after 12 or 13 hours of driving and settled in.
Sunday we attended church in the morning, then visited Manhattan to go to Broadway! A lady in our group who's a total theatre buff had a birthday that day, so it was a good day for Broadway (plus we didn't have any ministry planned that day). We went to a discount ticket place and spent way too much money. We ended up seeing "9 to 5" (Remember that movie with Dolly Parton?). It was really good! It was just a really fun, well done show. One of the stars was Allison Janney (The West Wing, Juno, Finding Nemo...). It was really fun recognizing someone in the cast. We went back to Brooklyn and had some tasty dinner at Princess Pizza :)
Monday and Tuesday mornings we had "Prayer Stations" set up down the street from the church. We had water (for people and dogs :) and tracts (I'm not a big tract fan, but they work for some people. God can use anything I guess!). I was really nervous about this part because I'm not exactly an outgoing person and can be scared to talk to people about such important stuff. It went surprisingly well. I was able to talk to and pray with several people, and enjoyed just saying hi to everyone and handing out water.
Wednesday and Friday (not Thursday because of rain) we did a free car wash in front of the church. New Yorkers are incredibly suspicious of anything "free" ...it was so funny. Everyone wanted to know, "what's the catch?" "Why is it free?" "Are you taking donations?" It was pretty successful in that we got to wash a lot of cars, have a friendly chat with lots of people, and pray with a few. It was fun.
Monday through Friday we did Vacation Bible School. I was "in charge" of it. I delegated a lot (thank goodness) and just ended up doing the lesson myself. The first day was SO HARD. Honestly, the 5 kids that showed up (all related) were absolute monsters. Talk about a challenge. We were all pretty discouraged after that day. However, the same kids (plus a couple more) came back the next day and were SO much better. It was definitely an answer to prayer. We had between 3 and 7 kids each day. Some days seemed to go better than others and I don't know how much good we did, but we did our best. Most of the team helped out in every section (puppets, story/lesson, crafts, recreation) so it was tiring but fun. Nathan ended up doing puppets a lot and did a really great job. The last couple days he and our buddy Andy did the most hilarious shows staring Flatman and Bobbin. Funny!!
Friday we had a free cookout and had a great turnout. A lot of homeless people came (the church has had cookouts all summer so people know to come) as well as folks from the community and the church staff. We all took turns cooking and serving- it was fun :)
The whole week (except Thursday) was SOOO hot. Like mid-90's most days with 100% humidity. Most of the women, especially me, got really swollen feet and ankles from the heat and being on our feet so much. I couldn't get my feet in my shoes so I was stuck wearing flip flops all week which made my feet hurt. I also got heartburn several days which I've never had before. And I was always tired despite taking naps every afternoon. So yeah, a very physically challenging week for me!!
But like I hope I've communicated, it was really worth it. This was my first mission trip and I was really scared to go, but I'm so glad I did. I learned that when it comes to sharing Jesus with people you can't screw up. I also learned the joy in showing kindness and a friendly face to people (that was my favorite). I learned that God can use situations that aren't the greatest for His glory. I would definitely like to go on more mission trips in the future.
One of the really fun things we got to do was go up on the roof of the local YMCA at night. When we walked outside and saw this view I was surprised for some reason. Wow, what a view.
This is looking down from the roof at the streets of Brooklyn.
We left NYC at 6 am Saturday the 15th and made it home with a few challenges but safe nonetheless. I'm sure I left a lot out (mostly food related probably), but there's at least a taste of our week. It was a good one :)