Tales of a Midwest Lutheran on the East Coast

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

God is our refuge and strength...

My top 10 favorite moments of the ROAR 2013 senior high servant trip, where youth from all over NJ helped people still affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In no particular order:

1. Even campfire at Cross Roads Camp. Brought back a lot of fun memories.

2. When we were cleaning a street in Ortley Beach, within 20 minutes we had three offers of cold water from the neighbors, plus the lady who's yard we were weeding cut up some watermelon for us - best watermelon I ever tasted! This woman was 85 years old and had been living with one of her nieces for the last 6 months after Sandy. She said that after Sandy, she couldn't function, couldn't write her own name. Her sister, with whom she had lived in that house, completely shut down and stopped talking to anyone to this day, and now lives in a nursing home. But she was so glad to see us, and so glad for the help.

3. One night at the church we were staying at there was a meeting that wanted to meet in the church where it was cool (that week the temps were in the upper 90s!), so we had evening worship in the lounge where we ate. While singing "Trouble won't go," some of the kids really got into it, and kept the beat (gently-ish) on the tables... it sounded awesome! Gave me goosebumps.

4. Seeing the giant bucket-brigade-like line the kids created to unload loads of food at the PERC shelter in Union City. We boxed up enough food to feed 340 people. And our youth got to hear the "homeless homeless" story from one of the staff who was there the night it happened

(The "homeless homeless" story, in case you haven't heard it from me before, is about the night after Sandy hit Union City area, and one homeless shelter in one part of the city, in order to make room for the displaced people with damaged homes, put 90+ homeless people on a bus and dropped them off in front of PERC, which was already full. No warning or anything. They found room by clearing their dining area. We also learned that this happens on a smaller scale all the time - people just released from prison or the hospital are often given a free taxi ride directly to PERC.)

5. Debbie leading yoga for us in the evening at the YMCA - relaxing and rejuvenating!

6. Communion at our closing worship - seeing everyone gathered around the alter in one big circle!

7. Being at the beach in Point Pleasant and seeing a rainbow. And then driving just a little way down the road, toward Mantoloking, where you can still see piles that once were houses. Mind-blowing.

8. Helping St. Barbara's Orthodox Church in Tom's River prepare for Camp Noah... getting two entire rooms painted and gift kits sorted. The kids worked so hard, even on the last day. And getting to see their awesome sanctuary. It's huge and completely covered in beautiful icons. Just gorgeous.

9. Helping out Covenant Church in West Long Branch get ready to host volunteers - we made them look beautiful by weeding, and set up some cots (which are super comfortable, being the good helpers we are we tested them out a bit...) and learning about the congregation. The picture from my last post was taken there. One of my youth had the idea, and I took the pic with her phone. Neat, huh?

10. Getting to meet the pastors of St. Thomas in Brick where we stayed... a clergy couple! They were wonderful. And the church was great - most rooms had AC!!!

Many other things happened, but those were definitely the highlights. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers this week, it was big success!!

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