Friday, July 18, 2014

Toronto - Day 5 (Thursday)

Today is the finale of our trip (mission work wise). It was the last day of our sites, our last evening activity, our last look at the Toronto skyline, our last time of worship together. Tomorrow is cleaning and packing. But for today, here are some stories from our students. Enjoy!

Today, being the last day was the most emotional day. We had to say goodbye to the people we had made great relationships with, and got our feet washed while being prayed over by a leader of our church. Before any of the tears were shed during the foot washing though, my crew, the Maple Leafs, paired up with a disabled adult and took a field trip to Legoland. My partner was Lamore, and he didn’t seem all that disabled other than being just a little bit spacey. We went on Merlin’s Apprentice, a flying Dumbo type ride similar to Disney World. After lunch in the mall, he had been to afraid to do some of the other attractions like a laser maze and a shooting from a cart game, but we finally did the laser maze. He was still so afraid that the Legoland worker actually had to step into the laser chamber with him and me in order for Lamore to go through it. We never actually got around to doing the shooting game, as the line was too long, and we didn’t have the time, but I know that he enjoyed himself just as much as I did. When we got back to St. Jude’s, it was time to say goodbye to everyone there. I said goodbye to a woman named Sonya, who had actually obtained her disability after losing her husband, and so she didn’t seem all that abnormal. In fact, she was really motherly to the other adults.

This whole St Jude’s experience was something brand new to me. I have never worked with adults on a mission trip, so I was really afraid of what it would bring, but every day got easier and easier and I felt more comfortable each day we went, so I really know that God had put me in the right place, and even though I was a little frustrated initially about Troy’s choice to put me with mentally disabled adults, I am now very thankful for it because it helped me grow a ton in my faith and how I can serve other people without even talking to them much.
 -Matt Nieland

For the first time this week I received the chance, or orders, depending on how you look at it, anyway I received the chance to work at a really nice homeless shelter where I made beds, all day. The food was REALLY GOOD though, so it was all good. Anyway, when we got back from our worksites we went to play at a park. Once back at the Salvation Army we are staying at we began the foot washing lesson. Tears were shed… but they were the happy kind. It was such a good experience to enjoy. I am so glad that I have had this opportunity, honestly this has been one of the most fun weeks I have ever had in my life. I’m sad to have to come home soon, but I know that there is still adventure coming!
-Rachel Simmonds

It’s weird to think that this is my last blog post. I’ve spent so much time going on trips and telling you about it in this blog, and now I’m saying goodbye. So please forgive me if I ramble a bit. Here we go!

I had an extremely interesting worksite this week. So interesting, in fact, that I can’t tell you what it was called (I signed a nondisclosure contract). However I can tell you that it was a factory that worked with mentally and physically disabled people, teaching them work skills necessary to work in other locations, and also offering jobs to many who choose to stay there. Now what we were doing was a little on the more monotonous side, but important nonetheless. Day 1: We put stickers on bags. For four hours. Day 2: We put candle holders in boxes. For 4 hours. Day 3: I put labels on water bottles and put candle holders in boxes on and off for four hours (such variety). And day 4: Counted out 10 aluminum tray lids, then counted out five aluminum tray lids after one of us made a mistake, then boxed candle holders. For about three more hours. Now this may sound a little like child labor, but the important part of what we did was interacting with the workers there. Throughout the week I met a number of interesting people including a man who fled from communist Poland in 1985 and moved to Greece for one year and then to Canada and has since lived in Toronto with his wife and two kids, a woman who’s niece plays the piano beautifully and has only been learning for two years, and another man who has an absolutely amazing knowledge of world history.

These are the people that we write off. These are the people that we often ignore, maybe say hi to, but never bother to listen to, because we don’t think they have much to say. Or at least that’s what I thought. I learned this week that everyone has a story. Everyone just wants to be able to share their experiences and what they’ve learned on their journey through life, and I should welcome that, no matter what the source. While at the site, it was difficult to see the importance of what I was doing, stacking candle holders and sticking them in a box, but looking back, I’m glad that I was assigned to the sight. I needed it. And God always gives us what we need, even if we don’t want it.

So I guess this is goodbye. It’s kind of weird to be sentimental over such a small thing, but I’ve told some pretty crazy stories in this blog, and it’s sad to see it all come to an end. Nevertheless, I’m sure God has amazing things in store tomorrow and for many mission trips to come. So I’ve got to pass it off. Pass of the telling of incredible mission trip stories to a new group, and I hope that they have just as many crazy stories to tell as I did.

So for the last time, Goodbye, and thank you for all of your support.
-Alec Balasko

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