Missin’ our Missions Trip

After 8 hours in two very full vans we are officially back in Upland, Indiana! When we made it back onto campus we departed ways into the many different directions of our dorms; it was odd to know that our team wouldn’t be spending the night under one roof anymore.

This trip has been more than I could have ever imagined – God has shown himself to all of us in many different amazing ways. Whether it be the sound of birds chirping and hammers on a roof intermingling, or the smiles of the homeowners we were blessed to work with, God’s glory was everywhere! The Lord blessed us with the opportunity to see how he is working in Memphis through organizations such as SOS, Memphis Teaching Residency, or Fellowship Residency. Memphis may be a community that is seen in a negative light, but during our time in the city we were shown again and again that God has not given up on the town.

Thank you to everyone who supported our group both financially and prayerfully! This trip was an experience that I will never forget due to the days filled with sweaty work, the evenings filled with worship and fellowship, and the nights filled with laughter. Although we only helped fix one family’s roof this week we were able to portray the love of Christ to all of those around us, and we were able to understand more of what it means to be Christians outside of the Taylor Community.

From beginning to end this trip has been a reminder to all of us that God is still doing amazing things throughout our community and throughout the world.

Writer: Caroline Vaporis

 

 

Arrived Back

Just a note to let you all know that we have arrived back safely in Upland Indiana.

After a wonderful breakfast at the Sugar Mill Pancake House – thanks to our good friends Dale and Barbara Murphy – we headed out for our long journey home. A number of us were still pretty sick – so a couple of the vans sounded a bit like infirmaries on wheels – but in the end, we arrived home safely.

Thanks for all your prayers. Will try to post one more entry with some pictures.

 

Photos

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A street in “The Valley of the Angels,” a touristic city we visited on our first day.

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Alex, Sarah, and Josie enjoy some local brews to wake up after a long flight.

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Team members cackle together in the van, where we spend most of our time in throughout the week.

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The entire team and our translators pose for a group picture on top of a lookout in the city Catacamas.

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Team embraces Honduran cultural transportation norms, disregarding safety and ignoring their parents concerns to stay in the vehicle.

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Local Honduran takes pride in his meat market, catching our paparazzi in the act.

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Denae and Isaac. Same.

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Mario, our fearless driver, finally gets a chance to relax with the team over lunch.

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The team takes in the view before diving into our workshops in Tegucigalpa.

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Our fantastic translators, Jose, Libni, and Isaac patiently wait as we wander the beautiful country of Honduras.

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Denae and Alex, some local children, play on the swings before another delicious meal.

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The Marketing Squad celebrates their comradery/camaraderie.

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Kelly steals the show in front of Tegucigalpa’s gorgeous landscape.

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Most of the team gets a picture together, while the remaining members get lost taking pictures elsewhere.

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Jesus.

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The translators realize that trying to discuss the differences between Brazil Jesus and Honduras Jesus stirs up controversy.

Final Day

Eleven thousand five hundred twenty minutes so great

How do you measure a Memphis service spring break?

In van rides? In BBQ ribs?

In nails pounded in a roof?

In laughter?

 

What’s that Hannah?

 

“What about loveeeeee?”

 

Sounds good to me. The work week is over but our journey included just a few more memories on this last Saturday. Speaking of love, one of those memories included the National Civil Rights Museum in down town Memphis, which stands in place of the old Lorraine Motel, the site where MLK was shot.

However, before heading to the museum we set off for lunch. Despite hearing no complaints about the cooking in Tennessee this week, the group decided to cross the border and try some Mississippi cuisine. After filling up on sub sandwiches and burgers we then headed to the museum, a place that is a living testament to the strength of the spirit of love.

The museum took us from the beginning of slavery in America through the civil rights movement. It was sobering hearing and seeing the accounts of abuse and injustice that have littered this countries’ history. The city of Memphis is nearly 65% African-American (slightly more than Upland), and we learned how in it’s not-so-distant past even its most decorated street, Beale Street, ran red by the hand of racial injustice. The repercussions of these events are still evident today. However, the museum does not leave you with a sour taste in your mouth, even if it leaves you with a heavy heart. The end of the exhibit is MLK’s mountaintop speech, his final speech, which he delivered right here in Memphis. He concludes the speech with a couple very powerful lines: But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land… Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Even though we all learned about it in school, the museum served as a powerful reminder of how MLK preached love in order to, literally, change the world. Without him and all the other incredible people involved in the civil rights movement there is no way we could have had the amazing opportunity to go and fix Mr. John and Ms. Janet’s roof this week.

After leaving the museum we stopped for dinner at Memphis’ oldest diner. We have been blessed with some good eats this week, but this restaurant could only be paralleled by the food from Mr. John’s grill. It was a grand finally.

Last, but not least, the group headed across the Mississippi River on a footbridge to lay claim on the state of Arkansas. After breathing in that sweet Razorback air we headed back to SOS for our final night’s rest.

Tomorrow will start bright and early as we depart from volunteering in the Volunteer state and head on home. I think Kevin (Slims) said it best when he said, “I’m really going to miss the trip.” Me too Kev, me too.

Life in the 46201

 

UnbelievablIMG_6096e that Spring Break is almost over (SPRONG BROCK).  Our team has some last minute thoughts that we want to share with anyone who still cares, so buckle up, kids.  It’s gonna be a wild one.

With less than one day left of our time at Shepherd, it strikes me as odd that we often feel as if we must validate local missions.  Somehow, serving those from our own countries and states, cities and communities takes on a very arbitrary form in Christian culture.  We understand its virtue, but not its urgency, as if the people nearest to us are not equally as broken, equally as underserved, equally as worthy of dignity and love as the ones we travel thousands of miles to meet.  The story we tell of local ministry is not a full one, and it is most certainly valid.

I am also guilty of trivializing local missions to a catchy slogan or punch line, yet my cynicism has been squelched this week at Shepherd.  Never have I been more challenged, more convicted, more uncomfortable, and more humbled than in this vibrant city only thirty minutes from the cornfields of my hometown.

Our time at Shepherd has been marked by accidental nicknames, Catan betrayals, and more than a few original memes, but at the risk of sounding too dramatic, it has also been sort of tough at times.

Wednesday saw our team helping out at the Horizon Academy, prepping for a senior community luncheon, canvassing the streets of Indy to invite the community to Shepherd’s trimonthly Block Party (an outreach event featuring hot dogs, health screenings, and bouncy castles), and administering food items to community members from Gleaner’s Food Bank.

At the end of the night, our debriefing was heavy with the things we had seen and heard and their weighty implications.

The most jarring event of mine and most of the team’s day was the community walk.  I headed out with Kelsey, Gabe and Carissa (two Shepherd staff members), a health specialist, and an IMPD officer to walk through two streets in the 46201 zip code, streets of people Shepherd aims to serve.  Though this area isn’t the safest, IMPD didn’t accompany us for protection.  Because of the negative connotation of the profession iIMG_6117n the near East Side culture, the IMPD tries to be super intentional about community outreach to try and shift the paradigm.  Hence, policeman.

Walking next to the 6’ 4’’ officer, I could sense the fear in the air.  People who called the street home became stiff at the sight of the black uniform and the power it represents.  The reluctance of homeowners to answer the knocks at the door spoke volumes with the silence that followed, and the ones who did answer had the panic written in their eyes.  Though you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be terrified if five strangers and a cop came banging on their front door, the context added layers of meaning behind those confused tones and inch-wide wood openings.

The community walk widened my privileged perspective, and showed me a different side of a city I knew but had never fully known.  Boarded up homes and trespassing warnings had not been my experience growing up, but for so many Indianapolis children, it’s that experience an
d then some.  When inviting the community to the Block Party, I was haunted by the children who answered the door.  The girl that backed away at the sight of the officer, running up the stairs for her mom.  The other that waved to us from behind her dad’s legs.  These kids are the ones our team has gotten to know at Shepherd through coloring, playing cops and robbers, and hoisting them onto our laps for story time.

But life out there is not a game.

The kids of Indianapolis, kids Shepherd is trying to reach, are up against some serious challenges barring them from financial, educational, and social success at no fault of their own.  Kids no different from me besides my pure luck at having been born into a white middle-class evangeliIMG_5986cal Christian family.  The unfairness of it all strikes me again when I see their faces – but in the place of a face I see a steak knife in the yard in the midst of bouncy balls and toy cars left out from the day before.  I see “Beware of Dog” signs and graffiti-decorated porches.  I see tired faces and bloodshot eyes, and I remember that in the dog days of childhood innocence, these kids are dealing with a struggle I know nothing about when they walk out of Shepherd’s doors.

And, honestly, I don’t know what to do with that.

I could quote some hopeful Scripture or tell you I had a moment of clarity and began to understand the purpose behind perpetuated injustice, but that would be an aggressively cheesy lie.  There is nothing that you or I or anyone else can single-handedly do to “fix” the issues of systematic racism and the cycle of poverty so prevalent in Indianapolis or anywhere else on this earth, and that is life on this side of Heaven.  The men and women at Shepherd Community Center and local ministries like it are trying to do some good, not in the hopes of changing the world, but of changing the life of one child for the better with the knowledge that it is God who loved them first and it is God who is in control.  And I am so thankful that they’ll be here long after my team and I have arrived back at Taylor.

See ya tomorrow, TU

Writer: McKenna Gold

 

Day 6

Today we wrapped up our time working on John and Janet’s home in the Binghamton neighborhood of Memphis, TN. These past five days have flown by and have left a lasting impact on our team.

This morning began with an extra hour of sleep (#blessed)!!! After a little extra rest we arrived at our worksite ready to finish the week off strong. Some team members were on the roof shingling the last plane while others were tidying up the backyard foliage and picking up trash along the streets. After our final lunch break we said our goodbyes to Janet and her home. We were so grateful for the opportunity to build a relationship with Janet and John. Their hospitality towards our group was incredible. Through meals and conversations we enjoyed getting to build community with them.

After packing up at their home we headed back to the SOS center for some deep cleaning of the building before dinner. We enjoyed some delicious grub at Swanky’s Taco Shop followed by a highly demanded trip to Jerry’s Sno Cones – which did not disappoint.

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As our time in Memphis is coming to an end we took some time tonight as a team to reflect on our journey thus far. Here is a bit of what our team reflected on tonight:

  • This week allowed for a refreshing break from the exhausting routine of school/life.
  • It was a time to see God’s beauty in even the smallest of things.
  • Created an opportunity to explore, try new things, meet new friends, and get out of a comfort zone.
  • Becoming more knowledgeable about why SOS has set up their ministry the way it is and the impact it has on the community and volunteers.
  • Learning from each other’s heart for the service and different perspectives.

These are just a few of the insights into how this week of serving with the Memphis community has impacted each and every individual on this team. It will be hard to leave in a couple of days, but we have been so refreshed and rejuvenated from this experience and are encouraged to continue to learn and reflect from this opportunity.

We are excited to head back into the city tomorrow to visit the Civil Rights Museum and maybe even take a quick trip to Arkansas and Mississippi (stay tuned)!

Writer: Maddie Eiler

Block Parties and Bad Puns

And with some delicious, authentic tacos from a grocery store on the East side of Indy and Italian Ice on the canal (10/10), our Fri(y)ay and the week at Shepherd is quickly approaching an end. We apologIMG_6670ize for the lack of updates on our work here at Shepherd’s Community, but hopefully, I can relay four days’ worth of activities in a relatively short blog post. Here are some highlights:

            During the mornings, we continued to work with Horizon Christian Academy in the classroom and in the kitchen preparing meals for the students. We were usually placed with 3 & 4 year-olds (a personal favorite) and 2nd graders, helping them with classwork and running around with them during recess. Tuesday we had a special assembly where Glen Robinson III from the Pacers came and spoke to the kids and donated sports equipment to the Academy. For those of you who are as clueless as I am about NBA basketball, he won a slam dunk contest which, apparently, is a pretty big deal. Needless to say, the kids were very excited. Today was their last day before their Spring Break, so we helped hand out food packages to the kids for the week. Energy levels were at an all-time high, even our team with the help of a couple cups (gallons) of Folgers coffee.IMG_6142

            Afternoons were dedicated to work-projects, whether it was clean up around Shepherd or working at a house of a family in the community. Tuesday, we made encouragement goodies for a local public school for kids taking the ISTEP, complete with Rolo chocolates and really bad puns. Wednesday was a little different since Shepherd hosted a giant Spring Break Block Party for the neighborhood. We began with canvassing the neighborhood, inviting people to the party, with different staff members and the IMPD. Admittedly, many of our team members were uncomfortable and nervous about walking around the neighborhood with the police officers, but the experience was a very rewarding and eye-opening experience, and one of our most memorable moments of the trip. At the black party, we partnered with Gleaner’s Food Bank to hand out groceries to the families who attended. On Thursday, we helped clean and replace gutters at a local man’s house, and today, Friday, we cleaned trash from around the church and helped close the school for Spring Break.

Some things you can be praying for us on our last days here would be:

  1. Time to process all we’ve been learning and experiencing here at Shepherd
  2. Energy, sleep and no more sickness!

Thank you for all your prayers, and sorry once again for the late update!

Writer: JoHannah Lindsay

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