Spring Break 2016. I took the leap of faith and went on a mission trip with His House Christian Fellowship of CMU and traveled to New York City to work alongside The New York City Relief Bus. The remainder of this reflection is broken into 3 parts. Part 1 consists of general knowledge to know about the mission field we were working on. Part 2 consists of my time in service. Part 3 consists of highlights from my reflection from the trip.
Forward: What I experienced and learned on this trip far surpassed what I can merely express in the following written words. I don’t drink coffee, but I find joy in coffee shops and would love to converse further with you about my experiences and learning moments. Don’t be a stranger and reach out.
Part 1: Things to Know
C – Compassion: Tangibly demonstrating God’s love for the poor through humble service.
O – Oneness: “Fighting for each other’s hearts” to achieve deep relationship and intimate community with our friends on the streets, and each other.
R – Revolution: Life transformation for the homeless, the addicted and those who serve them.
E – Excellence: Consistent and reliable in always giving our best for the broken, to instill dignity.
Motto/Battle Cry (the mission statement of NYCR that is said after praying, but before departing each and every outreach): “These thins we do, that others may live.”
Bus sections: Front office space – a quiet area for intentional conversations about seeking substance abuse assistance or job searches. Middle kitchen area – where the soup, bread, and drinks are served from. Back of the bus/prayer station – individuals line up to receive prayer, hygiene kits (soap, toothbrush, etc.), socks, and/or a Bible.
Part 2: Brief breakdown of our days in NJ/NYC
Day 0: Saturday: We rolled out around 6:30 am from the church parking lot in a white 15-passanger van. It was a joyous ride and we finally arrived late in the night to the NYCR home base where we were welcomed with open arms and jolly hearts.
Day 1: Sunday: Our day to be a tourist. We navigated incorrectly on the subway, but made the best of it by “surfing the subway” (free standing) and playing ninja while freestanding (one time with a stranger too; it was awesome). We also walked the Brooklyn Bridge seeing the beautiful skyline of what is NYC as seeing a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.We visited and did a prayer walk around the 9/11 Memorial. Lastly we attended church at Hillsong Church in the Irving Plaza in downtown NYC.
Day 2: Monday: It was our day to sleep in. A relative term, because I am an early riser. This morning I got to meet the volunteers from Gordon College (located north of Boston, Massachusetts) before they went out to tour the city. They would be working with NYCR alongside us, preparing, cleaning, and serving.
Day 3: Tuesday: Today was our day for team bonding and training for service. CMU and Gordon College were able to have a picnic in a local park and bond playing football, frisbee, and Kan Jam.
Day 4: Wednesday: Outreach
Location: Harlem // This was our first day of service. Was I nervous? A little. I was more filled with excitement and happiness. Harlem had a demographic of people who did not speak english. It was incredible to see them walk into the back of the bus and simply saying “salud” which means bless you in Spanish. They were coming in seeking prayer, not necessarily knowing what exactly we were saying, but knowing that God doesn’t let language barriers or cultural differences stop His love from being spread.
Day 5: Thursday: Don’t Pass By Street Reach (watch video here)
Location: Penn Station // So the beginning of the day consisted of cleaning the base of NYCR. It was fun cleaning the kitchen area. Even the unfortunate accident of my friend spilling gasoline on me trying to move a generator gave way for a good laugh and bonding beyond measure. Later in the day we did street mission were instead of people coming to the bus, we went and traveled to the people. This was an incredible experience because some of those we talked to were faith filled. It was very inspiring.
Day 6: Friday: Outreach
– Chelsea Park // Today was fun. Conversations were grand. It was a day filled with lots of reflection because tomorrow was our last day here. Where did the time go.
Spontaneous Adventure to NYC Times Square // one of the leaders took a group of crazy Jesus loving peeps to Times Square. The bus ride over was filled with worship and jams. The time there was filled with community and it was awesome to see us using what we had learned from previously serving out when we weren’t with the bus.
Day 7: Saturday: Outreach
Location: The South Bronx // This was our last day of service. I got to have a handful of intentional conversations. I had an odd realization after having these though. When I was talking, if I would have brought up Jesus it would have been forced and awkward. We were having conversation and instead of preaching the gospel, I was simply able to show them God’s love.
Day 8: Sunday: In the midst of the drive back. (1) Team No/minimal sleep consisted of: Lisa, JB & I. (2) I was awake for Day Light Saving Time. We were rolling along at 1:59 am one minute, and 3:00 am the next (literally). (3) It was comical to us awake, confusing to those asleep, and a blessing from God when we got hit by a deer and it simply bounced off the van leaving no trace except a small black streak of victory. (4) It was fun.
Part 3: Looking ahead and moving forward
So it took me about a week to recover from the sickness that I had begun fighting the second half of the trip and to fully What God taught me on the trip:
1. Your heart for service is real.
2. Allow strangers to become friends and family. Homeless -> friends. Strangers from CMU His House, NYCR, and Gordon College are all now family. It is possible to feel that same love from people you know love you back at home, in a place that was once strange no more than one week previous.
3. When you’re willing to go, God will take you places. It was hard leaving because I felt purpose and the presence of God working there and in community with those around me. It was diffcult to accept but I knew God was calling me back to school as an RA and student among such a campus. I am here now, but I am also excited to see where God sends me on my next adventure. Send me. I’ll go.
To close I would like to give a special thanks to those who supported me financially, and those who lifted me up in prayer leading up to and during my trip. I hope reading this allowed you to see a glimpse of what I got the chance to experience in NYC because of your unconditional love and support.