We have compiled a final, comprehensive photo album from the DC trip. Photos can be found at:
We have returned safely from our travels, and have learned much together this past week.
Thank you to the many who supported us, received us openly, and taught us along the way.
To further keep in touch with us, continue to keep this blog bookmarked, or visit molive.org.
On this trip I had a really amazing time. I saw monuments and memorials, went to awesome museums, and made new friends.
My favorite part of the trip was either helping at Charlie’s Place, or seeing the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
It was hard at first to walk so much, but it was worth it, because we met a lot of other people, like when we passed out bags of food and toiletries to people in the park. Also I got to buy a few good souvenirs on the trip: a shirt with the Luther Place logo, a necklace with an owl on it, a multi-colored anklet, and a water bottle. I loved being in DC, but the weather was not the best. It was really hot and sweaty. I don’t even sweat that much in gym class! But on Friday, the weather was better for walking and being outside, but we had to leave so that didn’t really matter.
I’m so glad I was able to come on this trip. I got to meet new people and got to ride the Metro, along with so many other good experiences.
Pastor Paul led an awesome “progressive worship” one evening. We shared Communion under the shelter of the D.C. War Memorial, continuing with silent passage through the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, then Affirmation of Baptism along the Tidal Pool of the Potomac, finishing with a silent walk to the Jefferson Memorial where we sang Holden Evening Prayer. This was a powerful evening!
Within the context of the week, and all the stories we have shared so far, picture a homeless women observing us preparing to receive Holy Communion, then being invited and joining us. Imagine, from her perspective, having just received Communion while being reminded of the sacrifices this nation made in order to be the nation we are, and then walking past quotes from MLK, carved in stone, teaching and reminding us that it isn’t enough to just fight injustice, that we must actively seek justice and that this may only happen when we separate ourselves from war and truly embrace peace and love.
Picture us continuing on our worship walk and being reminded of our Baptism and the peace and love that Jesus has given us.
Now picture finishing our worship walk surrounded by the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence—laying out the foundation of a nation that will fight injustice—a nation that eventually allows an African-American to speak freely to push us as a nation to move beyond fighting injustice and journey towards actual justice.
WOW! Thank you to the people of Mount Olive for supporting and making possible such a powerful learning experience.
[We ended our week at the Steinbruck Center by sharing reflections with one another. The center director, Bianca, used the image of a rose bush to lead us in our reflection. We each shared three things: a rose, a thorn, and a bud. The rose is our favorite part of the week. The thorn is our least favorite part. The bud is something we will take home to talk about with others.]
My rose on this trip is that I got to know a lot of people better that I’ve never really talked to much. Some of them taught me a lot of new things like new card games and just funny things that have happened in their lives.
My thorn would have to be having to walk up to ten miles a day in 90° heat. It was hard work but it was worth it to go see the monuments and food kitchens to help feed people.
My bud would be that I learned that just because a homeless person has a cell phone or something that would be useful that you might not necessarily need, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t really homeless. It might just mean they need it to help them find a job or keep in touch.
Community life, shared spaces and shared stories are at the center of our week in Washington, D.C. Our meals and showers were planned according to when we had access to the kitchen space and restrooms. Our beds were lined up within the walls of one large room with a curtain separating the girls and guys. We walked to our destinations of service, serving meals, sharing healthcare kits, providing clothing and, more importantly, sharing stories.
Our community quickly grew as we listened to the voices of Grace, Tommy, Eddie, Hosea, Paul, Steve, Shane, Mary, David, and many more who drew us towards God’s story. We witnessed God’s work around us as we learned to love the people on N Street, in Franklin Park, at SOME, Charlie’s Place, DC Central Kitchen, the Capital Area Food Bank, and Steinbruck Center while expanding our community.
We discovered new ways to love as we discovered new places and voices of influence. What a blessing it has been.
Our challenge now is in returning to our familiar spaces and sharing what we have learned, as well as continuing to listen and welcome stories from old and new friends.
[Photo from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, June 2014]
Through this experience we have had together, I am learning that God is calling us to acknowledge the problem of people who are homeless and don’t have a place to live or much to call their own.
Our group helped out with a lot of soup kitchens and supplying care packages, and we also learned a lot of the stereotypes that come with being homeless, like how we might think that all homeless people are all crazy, addicts, how they all smell funny, or how they’re mean. Most of those stereotypes aren’t true, like being crazy and addicted to drugs or alcohol are not actually the reasons why people become homeless. The real reasons why are oftentimes due to natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes, or because of the economy changing and other things out of our control. Sometimes taxes go up, and neighborhoods gain value, and then the apartment you were living in raises the rent, which you can’t pay, so you get evicted, and if you don’t have family or friends, you can easily find yourself to be homeless.
Sometimes when people are homeless, they get accusations of being addicts or alcoholics, because that’s what they might go to if they’re stressed about their situation and the stress gets to be too much.
I think God calls us to help out with this community because He knows that through leading and experiencing these things, we will all be willing to help others with what they need. We are in this together as a community and need to care for one another because we all have value as people.
So long, D.C.
Next stop: Chicago Union Station.
During our trip, we have been learning about freedom. As Americans, we think of freedom as being able to do anything without hurting others. But we have been learning about how a lot of people get stuck in situations and aren’t really free. Freedom is also a spiritual practice, and is a part of our relationships with others. It’s not just about making choices.
Through volunteering to help the community, and through worshiping with and forgiving others, we have gotten to be a part of freeing one another. Learning, serving food, and distributing care packages have been a part of that process.
It’s important because everybody should have a chance to be free.