First of all I want to apologize to those who were following this blog and to those who I visited on the trip but did not write about. I'm now going to take the next few days to revisit the trip and talk about what I did for the last week of the trip. I will begin with Monday July 18th.
On Monday I woke up at the Open Door Community and spent most of the morning resting and walking around talking to the different partners and resident volunteers. At about 1:00 I headed over to the first Mission Year site which was where I would stay for the next three nights. That particular house only had two Mission Year volunteers living there because earlier in the year three of the volunteers had decided to leave the program. I met with the two of them for a little while and then walked over to the church that they partner with. At the church they were leading a summer program for the kids in the area. Summer camps are something that can be found anywhere but they are particularly important in high risk areas such as urban Atlanta. Neighborhoods such as the ones where the Mission Year houses are located have high gang activity and the summer camp is a way to first of all give the children an alternative to just roaming the streets and second of all give them proper love and education.
On that particular day they fed the kids a snack, read a chapter of a book with them, and then went into the other room to make ice cream, shuck corn, and make thank you cards for the people they had visited earlier in the week. Every summer camp is different but like I mentioned in my reflection at Common Ground, the only thing that really matters is that you love the children. The children may remember some of the songs, games, or filed trips but what they will mostly likely truly remember are the relationships they had. They will remember the leaders who loved them and the fellow friends at the camp. Therefore, although a well structured camp and good planning can go a long way for the people working at the camp, and it may even slightly enhance the children's experience, the main purpose is to show your and God's love to the children. You may also find that the kids too reflect their and God's love to you.
After the camp was over we walked back to the house and one of the kids from the camp came over and I worked on a puzzle with him. For those of you who don't know, I love puzzles so I had no complaints about spending a couple of hours working on a puzzle with a kid. On a side note, I actually continued to work on the puzzle over the next two days and finally finished it the night before I left.
Caz who is the City director came over for dinner and I joined them for dinner and discussion. Since the program ended the week after I left the discussion over dinner was mostly about reflecting on the past year and what they had experienced. It was really cool to hear the stories of how they connected with the neighborhood and the ups and downs they felt through the year. They also talked a little bit about the three room mates leaving and how they had to cope with that. The three room mates had all left suddenly and without discussing it in great detail and so it should the importance of being open an honest while living in intentional community. Communication is key and without it things can slowly start to fall apart. Despite the three room mates leaving, the remaining two decided to stay strong and finish out the year and it turned out to be a rewarding four months for them. They did not let the situation bring them down. One of the keys to intentional community, and really life in general is the ability to be flexible. Nothing ever goes according to plan and there will always be challenges that we had to face, but if you are willing to work with what you got and be willing to adjust to what is given, then you become a greater outlet for the spirit.
I enjoyed my stay with Mission Year and my next two or three posts will be more reflection on this community and organization