A couple weeks ago I went up to Buffalo, NY with 17 other people from my church (3 other adults, and 14 high school students) for an urban mission trip. I haven’t really been able to write about it before this because it has taken me this long to recover and process what all happened that week we were there. I’m still not entirely sure what all went down, but it was too incredible of an experience to hold off sharing about it any longer.
We had spent the ten weeks leading up to the trip preparing ourselves and the students for what we were about to do. There was some introduction needed for our fantastic suburban kids who had never really experienced any sort of urban anything. We tried our best to keep any culture shock to a minimum, and give them the tools needed to make this trip about more than just hanging out with friends. The thing about our team was that it was like pulling teeth to get them to talk during those ten weeks. There was another team who went up the week before us, and they seemed to have gotten the talkative students.
Fast forward to the van ride up to Buffalo; after we had driven for like two-ish hours we stopped for dinner. After the kids were done eating they were playing Frisbee in a mostly empty parking lot. As they were playing a group of guys came up and asked to play. Our kids didn’t even think about it, but just tossed them the Frisbee and made room in the circle. It was cool to see.
Once we were all loaded up and on our way, our van started telling stories. I mean, they were making up stories as a group to keep themselves entertained. Jacqui and I were having a theological debate when next thing I hear is “Kate, start the next story!” Thus, Javier the Iguana set out on his quest to find the perfect guacamole recipe. I loved looking back and not seeing everyone plugged into their iPods, but interacting with each other and getting to know each other.
The theme of togetherness continued through the trip. Whenever there was down time the 14 high schoolers would spend their time hangout, all together. There weren’t really factions or cliques. It was just all of them together all the time. When I looked around at the high schoolers who were there, they really should not have worked together as well as they did. I loved it.
Since getting back, they have still tried to stay in contact with each other. On Good Friday, the group who had off school went to lunch and saw the Hunger Games. After that we proceeded to go get coffee and have a Nerf war (aka reenacting the movie) in the park near the coffee shop. They were together from 11am to 6pm that day, and it wasn’t long enough for them. They were already planning what they would do next time.
The way they click reminds me of my housemate in the ministry house back at Witt. It’s a group that shouldn’t work, but because they have Christ and love in common they just do. I love it so much. I get so excited when I think about it. I really feel like God is going to use them to make some changes in our youth group/church/city. I’m pumped.
For the sake of not boring everyone with all the details all at once, I’m going to stop for now. I’ll write more later about what all we did in Buffalo and other cool things like that.