Our students have been broken up into four crews and unlike years previous we will be doing many, many different acts of service. Every morning and afternoon are completely different projects in different areas and many we will not repeat (some groups will end up doing 6-7 acts of service this week). We were in urban gardens, food distribution centers, senior centers, sorting books for Africa, the list goes on for our day.
In the evening our students also participated in a poverty simulation, each student was given an identity and had to find a way to get food through social services, food banks, etc. Only two managed to get a complete day's food. It reiterated to our students just how much their service is appreciated and how much the Come To Me Food Pantry does for our community.
Here are some stories from today, please be praying for our students as they continue to serve this week. Thanks for your support!
So today I got to do the one thing I haven’t for all 6 past mission trips: visiting a nursing home. While I was a little afraid and uncomfortable at first, I got my feet wet when I met a woman named Dorothy who was very happy to be able to talk to someone.
The second lady I met was deaf so I had to shout for her to hear me. Our conversation was short, and when I asked what she used to do for a living, she replied that she didn’t want to talk about it and rolled herself slowly back into her room and that was the end of that.
The third woman I met I spent a majority of the day with. I wheeled her up and down the same hallway to keep her from remembering that she was tired and wanted to lie down because she wasn’t actually allowed into her room. She gave me nonstop compliments about how nice I was, how nice my teeth were, and what had happened to my arm. Eventually she fell asleep in her chair and then I think she kind of forgot about us.
Finally the last person I met had Parkinson’s but loved to talk and talk about how curious she was about her father who had fought in WWII. I told her about my grandpa who also fought and was battling his own debilitative disease. She had many pictures of her father and postcards he had sent from Europe and she said quite a few times how she wished someone in her family would be as curious as she was about her family history. I would’ve loved to have continued to talk to her but we had to leave.
While I entered the facility uncomfortable and happy that this would be the only day at A.G. Rhodes, I left wishing that we could go back, so thank you Troy for putting me well out of my comfort zone. - Matt
Rule #1: Okra is Deceptive.
While working at the UrbanAtlanta Metro Farm, our team learned a multitude of lessons from Mr. K, the overseer of the farm, ranging from wise proverbs to seemingly absurd tips to harvesting okra. What stood out most though (aside from his knowledge on every vegetable known to man) was his genuine enthusiasm for his work. During our orientation, we learned that the farm rents plots of soil to local members in the community and distributes their produce to farmers markets in Atlanta where food deserts are just as abundant. Even though the work tedious and tiring, Mr. K was more than willing to help us find new projects and let us try a little bit of everything the farm had to offer (which was a lot).
By the end of the day, our team had the chance to plant sweet potatoes, harvest okra, and even weed the inside of a greenhouse. Mr. K still gave us each task with the same smile on his face and was more than willing to work alongside us. While he may not be the exact replica of Jesus, he did teach me how to take pride in your work and to be passionate about a goal bigger than yourself. Hopefully, our work and the work others do on the garden continues to help families in Atlanta and that the newcomers also learn the proper way to find and cut okra. - Evan
Rule #2: No really, okra is extremely deceptive.
Today my crew had the opportunity to work at the Urban Atlanta Farm. The most intriguing aspect of the farm is that it is almost 100% self-sustained. It was an amazing feeling, looking at the solar panels that provide the energy for the green houses, which in turn transfer energy from the sun to the plants to grow food for harvesting, and finally seeing the leftover plant used for compost to support new growth on the farm. Standing on the farm, I could see a completely sustainable circle of growth. This really stuck out to me as applying to our theme this week, “The Good Life”. In our lives, God gives us everything we need to live a completely sustainable life, and is constantly providing us with the energy that we need to do his work on the earth.
Looking back at my 6 years as a part of Fire and Water, I can clearly see that God was constantly renewing my life through this ministry. I will forever be grateful for the countless hours I spent at the church, or on a mission trip, hunting for pinky-sized okra. It is hard to believe that this adventure is coming to a close, but I am eternally grateful for the experiences and opportunities that this ministry has provided for me. - Grace
P.S. Hi Mom.