Where: New York City
What: Homeless Shelter, Cleaning Old Schools and Hanging Out with Some Awesome Kids
My first flight. My first flight was to NYC the summer after September 11. I knew I would be perfectly safe, but it was still a little eerie and I knew from the start that this trip was going to be like none other.
I was right.
We did a variety of things in New York: Bible camps for kids in Brooklyn, worked at homeless shelters serving and organizing food pantries, cleaning old schools (and by old I mean the elevator was one of those ones that you closed the door yourself) and danced and sang on the street!
To say this trip was challenging is an understatement. Although the American spirit was stronger than ever in NYC, we still faced warfare, big-time. When we hung out with the kids we often got interrupted by rain, basketball games, or loud bands playing right beside us. It was so difficult to stay focused and on task with the kids. Nearly impossible, actually.
But from this difficulty is what I learned from this trip. Yeah, we didn’t get to do everything we planned for, but I think we all learned a massive lesson on flexibility.
That’s right, I said it. Being flexible. This is something that gets preached before mission trips, but often doesn’t get utilized. We were forced to. Nothing seemed to go our way and we faced all kinds of distractions and this is when I realized life is not going to go as planned. Prepare for things to get in my way, have back-up plans, and make the most of what I can.
A valuable lesson indeed.
Don’t get my wrong…we had an awesome time on this trip!! Some fun memories:
- We became known as the “banana group” because of our bright-yellow shirts we wore on the Subway every morning. We rode the same time everyday, saw the same people, and they started calling us this.
- The boxers prank. The girls in my room decided to play a prank on a few guys on the trip. The old freeze-your-boxers bit. Except after the prank, we learned they weren’t our friends boxers…they had been left over from whoever stayed in the room previous to us. Nice.
- I told my first Bible story! I was so proud of myself!
- We danced and sang on the streets of Brooklyn, NY. Can you imagine?
- Hearing so many different stories of those that visited the homeless shelter. It was overwhelming.
- NYC! NYC is awesome. We were able to experience the most diverse city at a time when it was the most tightly knit together. We saw first-hand the impact of 9/11: store fronts covered in debris, the large empty lot of where the towers once stood and the picture-covered fence of missing friends and family members around the nearby church.