Saturday, July 30, 2011

What A Week

Hey y'all.
Just dropping in real quick before we leave for Canada's Wonderland theme park on our lovely day off :)

Man what a week we have had. Thursday we had a free evening, which we spent at an awesome playground/park and then down to the beach to frolick and splash. Relaxing for some time after such heavy things we've experienced was much needed, and we played with reckless abandon.

Yesterday was our last day of service projects, and saying goodbye to all the people we've met was difficult. In my group, we made hamburgers as the last meal. We had to chop up like 20 onions to mix in, and I had to leave the kitchen because my eyes were dying.

During cleanup I stepped outside again to get some air, I heard a gentle question "Have you read Monte Cristo?"

I looked up the stairs, and a man I had seen at lunch everyday reading the newspaper was looking at me expectantly, holding out a worn book.

"No, I haven't," I replied, climbing the steps up to him, "is that it right there?"

My new friend proceeded to show a backpack full of books published around 100 years ago that he found in...get this...the recycling bin. They were in great shape considering, and included many classics from all over the world. I didn't catch his name, but he has a small apartment full of book I soon learned. It was such a fun and educational conversation, and I hated telling him after about 20 minutes that I had to go help clean up.

Anyways, after we were done at our service sites, we met as a whole group at a park for our final challenge, to pray and then disperse into a local market (not unlike Pike Place) to perform random acts of kindness. My group consisted of Emily, Josh and Paul H, and we bought 15 orange daisises to hand out. We were scared to start, but once we saw how happy it made people and got bright smiles, we couldn't be stopped. Other small groups handed out cookies and water, or held open doors for people.

We had dinner at a Somali restaurant, eating only with our right hand with no utensils, washing the goat and rice down with watermelon juice. The food this week has been unbelievable.

We watched the sunset from a park and each group shared a creative summary of our weeks through skits and song and dance. Then Steve, one of the hosts, shared his story, how he lived on the streets and struggled to survive. We closed in prayer and talked about how we would continue our service back home, living everyday through Christ in our actions.

Our week with CSM ended in a full circle, or a double-Uie as some would say, at the Wendy's/Tim Horton's for some doughnuts and loud chatter. We were all asleep by 1am, to prepare for today, which began with cleaning the church and now we are heading off to ride some rollercoasters and swim on some water rides :)

Shout out to all you who've been praying for us, and we all can't wait to get home and share our experiences in more depth.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Toronto Mission Trip: Day 3, in view of Dave and Mark's vans

Today, we helped out at the soup kitchen once again.
Sadly, we had to do this soon after we were woken.
But during the drive, I became awaken.
So it was alright, once I was to my next of kin.

Overall, the start was alright.
Mostly because our schedule was pretty airtight
Which was much to my delight.
So soon, I was upright
Serving the homeless, which is pretty tight.

I talked to some, about their life
Mostly whos were filled with hardship rife
Especially to some, who lost their wife.

In conclusion we learned alot


We left the kitchen at Saint Felix at 12:45 and then went out to a nearby undercover area with our CSM host, Chad, to talk about what we were doing, and what we were learning. The discussion was focussed mostly around the true value that our help has to the homeless. Of all the questions Chad left us to talk about, the most meaningful was whether our service to the homeless was hurting them more than helping them because we might be allowing the patrons at Saint Felix to grow too dependent on the help they get there, impeding their ability to get back on their feet by their own power. We decided that though some people may be growing too dependent, the problem is not big enough to bring the value of our service into question. In fact, many of us agreed that the food was actually giving the needy a tool with which to improve their lives. If they don't need to spend time thinking about what they are going to eat for every meal, they can use that time to find a job, look after their peers, etc. In fact, while I was serving food and I sat down to talk with someone when the flow of patrons slowed down, they said they were a little too busy to talk because they needed to wolf down their food, and get to their job in ten minutes! After having our discussion, we headed out to lunch at a delicious Japanese restaurant where we were served sushi, miso soup, teriyaki, rice, vegetable tempura, fruit, and a salad. We were all served so much food that Chad told us he would buy us a doughnut at a coffee shop if we managed to eat it all in one sitting with chopsticks! Two people managed to do this, Riley and James. Josh ate all of his with a fork but apparently that "did not count". Once we were all sufficiently well fed, we hung around in a nearby park, then made our way to our next destination: a soccer field. There, we hung out with some kids who were part of a soccer league organized by the salvation army. We helped set up the goals, serve some food, and I had the good fortune of helping out Team Ireland and prepared them for a 3-2 victory over team USA! At around 8:30, we started to head back to the church, and ate our dinner on the way. When we arrived, we spent around an hour connecting with God. SOme people sang songs with a guest from St. Vincent ( an island near Barbados, in the Caribbean), others analyzed passages from the Bible, or just wrote about their day in a journal. A large number of people drew pictures as well. Overall, it was a pretty emotional experience. Once the activities were done, everyone had some free time, and get ready for bed. The lights went out at 11:00 PM as always, and we are all recharging for the next day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Toronto Mission Trip: Day 2

Yesterday (we weren't able to connect to the internet last night) was our second full day in Toronto. Our day started out the same as all the other days of the week; with a simple but filling breakfast, and then a quick devotion to send us off to our anchor-sites. In the "Joanne-a-Van" (the group consisting of Joanne, Hayley, Rebecca, Martha, Jack, Paul, Josh, and our very kind host Steve) we all agreed that we felt more comfortable talking to the less fortunate just after one day. After three hours of rigorous but fun work, we had a nice lunch at the drop-in shelter of chicken nuggets, salad, and a pasta dish.

Our second activity of the day began with the "Joanne-a-Van" group making 120 bagged lunches. Each bagged lunch contained a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a snack, a juice box, and an apple. Paul and Josh had a great time doing impressions as they constructed the bagged lunches with Jack as the girls were franticly slapping together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches within the kitchen. Sadly, Paul and Josh's impressions continue to be used throughout the day.

As the day progressed the group crawled into the "Joanne-a-Van" and began our tour around Toronto's city streets. Steve kindly showed us all the most interesting and vibrant of places, pulling us from our compact car and teaching us about the area. Ranging from old to new, gay to prostitutes we saw the streets that colored the world around us. The opportunity to see upfront just what kind of people that share out world was a gift and we all greatly appreciated the experiance. Tall skycrapers loom high over the hundred or older little churches that stood firm below. It was interesting to learn about the different cemetaries made for fire fighters, police, and even those who were without homes. The overal experiance was memorable and fantastic, one that we will all remember.

With the sun slowly dipping below the sky line we gathered up the rest of the team, split into groups, and headed out to pass out our lunches. Gathered around our guide we were told the proper ways to act around those crowded on the streets without a place to stay. Finally filled with a sensible amount of knowledge we were all let out to help those in need. The walk was long but fun and we learned things that acted like healthy fruit over a greasing hamburger; it was filling. Three plastic bags dangled from each individual persons hands and soon most of these white lunches were gone. Finally resting at Tim Horton's doughnut shop and filling ourselves with tasty pastries we settled down to wait for our rides back to the church. The day was long and hard, everyone slept like rocks. Everyday has been similar to this and we look forward to the next day and for the new experiances we are given.
                                                                                                                                 -Hayley and Josh

Monday, July 25, 2011

A long first day

St. Andrews,
After a 1am arrival to the church sunday night and a 2am Wendy's run for dinner, starting off with full energy monday morning was certainly challenging. We begun by splitting our group of 18 into two - both headed fosoup kitchens in the greater downtown area. After a quick orientation, our group began to prepare a filling lunch for 90 clients under the instruction of former professional chef Ben. Over the sound of blasting 80's rock, we made sandwiches, cut orange slices, chopped a salad, prepared soup and biscuits, assembled incoming food donations, and generally worked in organized chaos. At 11, lunch was served and we spent the next hour and a half serving the people, an efficient system of plating, serving, scooping and cleaning. After lunch was over, we spent a while washing all the dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

For our lunch, we immersed ourselves in the delicacies of Greek cuisine at a restaurant in Greek Town of Toronto. We then had to switch gears and travel to the far east to the Chinatown area of Toronto. We had two hours that were filled with tasks pertaining to Chinese culture such as learning new words as well as understanding the significance of their colors and sculptures.

As if we hadn't been tired enough, the main highlight of the day came around 7pm when we did our streetwalk around downtown Toronto. We were prepped with a story told by a CSM staff member who asked us to put ourselves in the shoes of a kid who grew up under a number of difficult circumstances that landed him on the streets of Toronto at 13. We were given a $2 coin for our dinner and a token for a one way subway ride. We were instructed to only talk to our leaders (our "conscience") and to not work together whatsoever, as we were only in groups for safety. Our five main concerns would be food, shelter, hygiene, entertainment, and money. And we started walking.

Being told to follow our "roles" closely, we soon began searching for spare change, looking at possible places to sleep for the night, and venues to buy our only meal of the night which couldn't exceed $2. Our leaders presented problems to us as we suggested ideas, pointing out dangers that we normally wouldn't notice or even have to worry about. Most of us ended up eating a small burger the entire night. This was a night that we will never forget, and it changed out perspectives. Watching people paying twenty bucks for parking and then eating a huge meal, completely oblivious to anyone on the streets.

After three hours in the shoes of a homeless teen, we finally boarded the subway back to our home for the week, and shared a quick debrief with one of our leaders.

We are so tired, it is 11:30 here, and we're running on four hours of sleep So ta ta for now.

Thanks for the prayers,

-Zoë Henderson and Jon Thorpe

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The prayers of the congregation and friends have been felt throughout our preparation. The Mission team thanks you for your continued support and prayers as we travel to Toronto to serve the homeless with Center for Student Missions. Keep in your prayers, Christie Andresen, Josh Bean, James Carney, Riley Carney, Jack Gentsch, Paul Gentsch, Paul Hegedus, Zoë Henderson, Rebecca Johnson, Martha Pratt, MJ Rowe, Jared Rowe, Hayley Rowe, Jon Thorpe, Joanne Hinkle, Dave Robitaille, Mark Thorpe, Emily Henselmeier, the Center for Student Missions Staff, and the city of Toronto. 

Visit us each day as we share our thoughts, musings, and pictures throughout the week beginning July 25.  We look forward to sharing our experience with you!!