Homeless continued…..

So to continue the discussion about the homeless simulation…

Well the first evening was not that bad.  We were fed by a “shelter” where we had to listen to a message and prayer before they would serve the food.  They gave us smaller portions then they normally would have and had really strict rules about where we could sit.  We had to go out and we scavenged for some cardboard that would make our beds for later that night.  After dinner the “shelter workers” took us to where we would be staying for the night.  It was an on campus parking garage that was abandoned because school is not in session.  They took us there, searched our bag to make sure we didn’t have an illegal items and left us there with instructions to all be back by 10.  Some of us went for a walk, others stayed back, and some went to the park.  And while all of us were back by 10, it didn’t matter because no one showed until after midnight.  It was actually really cool to hang with the team during this time because we just talked.  I heard a couple peoples stories (testimonies) and had some good talks with a couple people.  But this time was rudely interrupted by the poverty simulation team (aka, the white-shirts, pov-sim team).  They made us line up on the wall and then split us into two different groups.  One group stayed (that was mine) and another group was taken away but no one knew where they had gone until the next day.  It was kind of sad that they split us and the morale of my group definitely decreased. Come to find out that the other group had a great time worshiping and doing yoga 🙂  Meanwhile my group just went to sleep.  However we didn’t sleep for long because the white-shirts came back at 1:30 because they needed to find the person that had “stolen”.  They took a few people and then told the rest of us to go back to sleep.  We didn’t know where the people they took went until the next day.

I can now say I have slept on a cement floor using cardboard as my mattress and plastic as my blanket.  None-the-less it was not the most sleep I have gotten nor was it the best nights sleep I have gotten.  It was a long night and it did get cold but I was able to sleep a little bit.  In the morning (like 5:00) I just got up because I was tired of tossing and turning.  I walked laps around the garage and in doing so I found a grate in the ceiling that linked to another garage.  This garage was where the other group was held.  It was literally the same kind of building it was just a second story.  After I found them a couple of us stood by the grate and the whole group sang worship songs.  It was the best part of the night!  The white-shirts came back at 8:15 for our breakfast.  They again lined us up on the wall; we came to find out that they really liked doing this.  But they fed us and told us that we had to report back to the garage in a couple hours.  Most of us ended up going to the river a block off campus and a small group of us shared our stories with each other.

When we got back to the garage the bus was there again and we all boarded the one bus (making for a hot, packed, stuffy bus).  They didn’t let us sleep on the way to the city and they kept us from getting too loud on the bus.  We were then dropped off in the city where we were told to complete the list they had given us.  Thankfully, each group had a guy so everyone felt a little bit better.  The list had various things that we needed to complete before they picked us up that afternoon.  On the list was our needing to find a free lunch.  We didn’t really succeed at that particular task.  The most we really ate were some samples from the market and the mall food court.  The things on the list created some interesting situations that led to some good conversations and brought some insight to the members of my group.  We were rejected, hungry, and frustrated but we were still able to eventually come back to God and realizing we were not as bad off as we could have been.

We returned to the park and boarded the bus.  On the bus they demanded that we be completely silent which was frustrating because who were they to take away our freedom to speak?  It was a very quite and reflective ride.  Once we got back to the garage, our team leader (Tom) had the pov-sim team get off the bus and then told us how hard it was for the leaders to see this happen and how treating all of the team members in this way was not in their blood.  I had held myself together pretty well until Tom spoke to the team but during his talk many of the girls lost it and we started crying.  I can’t even explain why I was upset but I think it was the breaking point that they wanted us to reach.  After that, even though I was upset and didn’t like how they were treating us, I was better able to handle the orders and the way they treated us.  We returned to the garage and the team had completely trashed the area that we has slept in the night before.  We had to clean up the area and take out all of the cardboard that we used and put it in the dumpster.  After that we were served dinner and then were told to go find more cardboard for the next night.  We settled into the garage again.  Our small group leaders walked in and we met with them for about an hour.  After they left, we worshiped and the group came together in one corner where we sang for quite a while.  A small group of us went to the bathroom and thankfully we took our things because when we came back, the white-shirts had ordered us to clean all of the cardboard we had so nicely laid out and pick it up.  We were again lined up on the wall and then they had us carry the cardboard to our new spot.  It was outside under a lamp that liked to turn on and off.  It was honestly a little comfier then the garage because the grass added a cushion!  Then the white-shirts came back saying that everyone had to come and they would take us to the bathroom but if we had to go at all, we needed to go then.  We walk back to the garage and they all go in.  The garage door goes up and they had all taken off the white shirts.  It was over!!!

The rest of the night was filled with happiness and gratefulness.  Tom was there with the other trip leaders.  He talked of how the leaders are here to serve us and to help us.  Because of this passion that they have, everyone had their feet washed.  The staff washed the staff’s feet and the pov-sim teams feet, the pov-sim team washed the student staff feet and the student staff washed the feet of all the students in their small group.  It was an amazing night to sit there and feel God’s presence.  I mean finally showering was awesome too!

God taught so many us of things and he opened our eyes to see things that we have never seen before.  He taught us about being homeless, about ourselves, and also about our teammates.  It was a blessing to share this with so many amazing people that share the passion for God that I have.  I can’t even begin to tell you everything that he did; in some ways I am still processing it myself.

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Homeless in Seattle

This past week has felt like one of the longest weeks of my life but in the best way possible!  There was so much that happened and so many things that we did I am going to do this past week a complete injustice in my description.

First up, let me just give a shout out to the Godly men that are on this trip.  These guys have really stepped it up and have looked out for all of the girls when we visit the city.  They have taken the extra responsibility to watch out for all of the ladies here.  It has been a blessing to know that these amazing people have my back in any situation!

Now on to what we have done this past week; a, very, brief overview of various activities.  Well I think that my favotire thing that we did this past week was ride-alongs with the Community Correction Officers and getting to see what they do and hearing first-hand accounts of what they see and what they do for these offenders after they are released from prison/jail.  My favorite ride-along was with Leslie, Emily, Chris and two police officers.  We, my and another team member, rode in a 15 passenger van that had been renovated to hold two offenders in the back (called the cage), However it also has room for quite a few of others in the front.  We were able to ride in this van and cruise through the streets with the officers stopping when they would see an offender in the wrong area or when we would see a fight.  Because we were so actively in situations that could have escalated we “had” to wear bulletproof vests.  I say that because I was totally stoked to get to wear one!  It wasn’t as heavy as I thought it might be and I had a lot of fun just pretending to be really important.  I learned a lot and Leslie absolutely loves to hang out with the CRU students when they come and was so excited to talk to us and tell us everything that she knows.

Another really big thing that happened is that all the students on the team completed a homeless simulation.  We returned from a potluck all of the DOC officers had given us (really good food!) only to find that we had eviction noticed on all the doors.  We had 30 minutes home to change and gather any needed meds and our 3 personal items to last us no longer then 5 days.  I took a water bottle, bag, and a book (not included in the 3 personal items I also brought a bible, pen, and notebook that everyone got to bring).  I wore the most clothes I think I have ever worn at one time before!  I had one two tank tops, a sweatshirt, a raincoat, athletic shorts, sweatpants, socks, and tennis shoes.  I was so hot by the time they got us to the place we were sleeping.  This homeless simulation has been fondly renamed, by me and only me, homeless boot camp.  It was definitely more drills, this is what you need to do, scheduled activities and penalties for missing deadlines than I feel an average homeless person would have.  I think it took a little bit for the team to get into the rules and the way that everything was so rigidly structured.  Many of us complained that we would have way more freedom if we were actually homeless.  It was not until after the simulation completed that we were able to see that they were trying to fit all of the disrespect and loss of pride that the homeless feel over the years that they are homeless.  They had to put all of this into a 24 hour period.

For now that is all….I will tell more about the homeless simulation after I have had more sleep 🙂 Goodnight from the west coast all!!

*God loves the poor*

I’m HERE!!!

Well the adventure has begun and I am only on day two!

I arrived in Seattle and since then I really haven’t had much down time.  I have been meeting the team, unpacking, and getting to know the city.

Yesterday was a day of firsts for me.  My first plane ride, my first time in Seattle, my first time really being by the sea for more then a few hours.  But it was SO MUCH FUN! I found out I really love the view from a plane! I have always wished that I could experience the view from outer space without actually having to be an astronaut and I am pretty sure this is as close as I can be 🙂 Going over the mountains was breathtaking and I am actually really excited to do it again when I fly home.  Not that I am trying to rush my departure from Seattle! Not by any means.  This place is so beautiful and has so much rich culture that I did not know about!

Today was a busy day as well.  Woke up fairly early to go to church.  We went to a Mars Hill church; Mark Driscoll is the head pastor of all the Mars Hill churches.  After church we returned to campus and ate lunch.  After lunch we headed to the historic section of town and took an underground tour of Seattle.  This city has to much history I could not finish a post about it today.  It would probably take a weeks worth of post.  What it boils down to is that there was a city but it burned down and the current city was rebuilt on top of the old city leaving tunnels and crazy cool 1900’s artifacts below the streets.  It was important for our team to see this history and learn the foundation of the city so that we are better able to understand the reason that people are here and the culture that has developed.  This history and culture opened our eyes to the brokenness of the city, how desperate they are and how much they need to hear a message of love and grace.

Then once we returned to the dorms, we had a great time of fellowship and hang time with the team!  Me and few others went outside in a rare day of Seattle sunshine to throw a football around.  And then dinner was a great time to talk with and hang out with other team members.  Everyone is still in the process of learning names so having this chill time was great for learning all the names.  I will learn these names if it kills me…

So that’s an overview of what happened since I left Minneapolis!  I am looking forward to the partnership that we will find with the Department of Corrections (DOC).

Come back soon for another update!!

*God leads us to the broken*

Almost there!

So tomorrow is the day. The day that I have been raising money for. The day I have been packing for, planning for, praying for (wow that is alliteration).  Tomorrow I leave for Seattle!! 

It doesn’t seem real yet.  But here it is none-the-less and as I sit waiting for the last load of laundry to finish drying, I thought I would write a new post for you guys.

Today started out as a struggle but I think through the grace of God and my own willpower, I turned it into a pretty decent day all things considered.  After my rough start I got a lot accomplished and I still have tomorrow morning for all the things I forgot about today.  I basically finished packing after dinner and in the process cleaned my bathroom and my room with time (and room) to spare!

I am feeling pretty good about tomorrow.  I am excited to meet the team, to fly for the first time, to see the west coast, to see mountains, and sooooo many other things.  I think most of all, I can’t wait to see what God does and how God teaches this team and me.  I know that he is going to use this experience to not only teach me about himself but also more about this passion I have for criminology and how he wants me to use that in the future.  

I know that this trip will most likely be tough emotionally, mentally, and spiritually but isn’t that how we grow?  We have to go through the rough patches and the tough times to learn where to fall and how to act.  It’s like those grown-ups always say: “it builds character”.  I guess now we see how true that really is.  God uses challenges and trials to show us weakness and where we cannot do it ourselves.  He shows us the places where we think we can do it, but in reality we need him.  He shows us our brokenness.  

Sometimes in the midst of these trials we feel like it will never end, like it is going to kill us, and a lot of times we think that it seemingly has no purpose.  What could we possibly learn?   But one day, we look back and realize that we wouldn’t be where we are and we wouldn’t be who we are without these times and trials.

So next time you find yourself emotionally eating chocolate like they will never stock it in Target again, crying in the shower, or, in my case, watching episodes of Gilmore Girls at 2 am remember that even if we can’t see it now, there is a reason for our pain.  I believe that God has a plan, he knows what is happening and what will happen.  Most of all, I believe that there is an end to the pain.  As Gary Allen puts it, “every storm runs out of rain / just like every dark night turns into day”.

So I know that this trip is not always going to be easy, I also know that I will not fail and I know I will not come home the same person I was when I left.  The good and the bad of this trip are going to change me.  And I cannot wait! 

 

*Pain has a purpose AND an end*