Today is my… most waited for day of the trip. I won’t say best, because it’s not all good. I’ll get there… (sorry there’s no pictures today, I didn’t have time, again that will be explained).
We started out going back to our Kids Club for the day. The picnic lunch was good, but more importantly it’s amazing how a day makes a difference. Knowing some of the kids’ names and spending time with them yesterday, they were more fun, they were more open, and there were more of them. I even recognized a few parents. It was great. They were into it and today for the first day the pastor’s wife had the chance to see what Youthworks and groups like us were doing with the kids in their church. Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow.
But the part I was waiting for was the city walk. It was different this time than the last time I was here but followed almost the same route. Basically we walked a tour of Toronto, the good, the bad and the ugly, all within about six blocks. The dynamics change that quickly. Eaton Center, a huge mall is one block from the local youth shelter where drug dealers hang out to catch teenagers as they get into Toronto. Ryerson University is across the street from a prostitution hangout affectionately known as “Hooker Harvey’s” (it’s a Harvey’s restaurant).
For me it’s always hard because I want to fix it (those that know my aren’t surprised by that part of my personality). It hurts to think there are people living with such problems and pain and they are literally less than a stone’s throw away from people spending thousands and thousands of dollars every hour, throwing away their uneaten food while across the street people are hungry. It just isn’t right. And it hurts me. And I know on some level it will never be fixed, Jesus even said we will always have the poor with us, but some of these people don’t even try to look to the church for help because those wonderful followers of Jesus have burned them so bad. I just keep feeling we should be so much better… I should be so much better…
After the walk we went straight into our time as a church, allowing us to talk and ask the questions and think, and you could tell for some, it really is hard. The easy answers are thrown out right away by the questions of others, which really gives me more hope because it makes me think the church has a chance to grow and think and do more than the easy answer that seemed good five seconds after the problem was looked at. Our guys and girls are really handling the things they see and processing them well.
Don’t take my word for it, here’s some more of them.
Zak B. ~ Well my crew was a little different from the rest, today was the first day at our site. A little background, this is my sixth trip, and this mission site is the coolest I have ever worked at. It’s called St. Frances’ Table, led by this cool Franciscan monk (I think) who really likes U2. This place is like a cross between a restaurant and a soup kitchen, the folks who come to eat pay a dollar to have us serve them some very good food, and it is just really cool. Not to mention the cook is almost as laid back as I am…. (“You work too hard, go take a break” are good words…)
Ginny H. ~ Today crew# 1 went to hope shelter. Mahoney, a man with a thick accent and kind eyes, set us cleaning up the shelter halls and windows very mildly. “it’s your vacation—don’t work too hard!”,he said. : ) Jeremy and Daniel cleaned windows, and Jacob, Liz, Kari, Kristina and I cleaned the halls and walls, and kitchen. The shelter was for men by the way, and it wasn’t as pretty as the women’s shelter. Did you know about that difference? The women’s shelter had flowers… the guys didn’t have a lot of pretty things. But they could hang out, play cards and watch tv. Being with people who treat you as people seems like the best thing… PS, God was majorly at both shelters… programs, and love .
Shawn M. ~ There really is way too much to discuss when talking about today. Of course I could talk about my kid’s club group Humber Blvd. Baptist Church and how we realy did have a blast solving puzzles, playing games, and following Troy’s lead jumping up and down and yelling songs (let me tell you he has got some mad crazy dance moves…). I could talk about the great interaction going on between all three churches here, the way that we’re truly congregating together become one whole with one focus, forgetting all past differences and fully embracing one another. I could talk about our long walk afterwards through the streets of Toronto, going from City Hall to the Eden Centre and finding, not more than one block away, crowds of people experiencing homelessness, churches with gates wrapped around them, and discarded syringes littering the sewers, being guided through this by a man who had been there for over a decade and knew first hand the pain and bitterness of a homeless man looking down the street and seeing those too wealthy to even know what to do with all they have. I could talk about the discussion our own FUMC youth group had afterwards, how everyone was waiting to jump in on the subject, on the possible “solution” to the hodgepodge of problems assaulting the city. Or…I could talk about how I sit here after the discussion disquieted, still unfulfilled. There’s so much we can do as Christians, especially us located in the wealthiest county in America, and yet there’s so much not being done. The pain is frustrating, it’s unbearable, to sit here and see the decadence of the life being led by thousands and know that, alone, I can do nothing. But still I have to have faith in it, I have to know that eventually it all will be solved, and I have to stay strong when I go out tomorrow and make sure that I do everything I can to act as Jesus would have me act, so I can prevent this terrible future from befalling those children that I will interact with tomorrow.
Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.