Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Urban Project - Week 1

When I got to Lancaster to start the Sidewalks Project, I admit, I had a really bad attitude about it. It made me really mad to think about not talking on the phone for a month or being on the internet when I wanted to. I like my freedom. So what happened was I moved into Bret and Betsy's house (IV staff) in Lancaster with 4 other girls. We had orientation for a few days just to start understanding why we were here. We got to meet some of Bret and Betsy's friends, which was really cool. Some of their friends intentionally live in the city, and we got to hear about their lives and their faith that has led them to Lancaster.
This week I am working at Lutheran Refugee Services with one of the other girls. It's a great place to be. The people who work here are wonderful. Sarah, the other girl I'm working with here, just started an ESL class for the kids of the recent refugees. We had the first class yesterday, and there were 9 kids there, ages 4-16. They were all Chin Burmese except for 2 Iraqi kids. They knew more English than we thought, we were ready to start with "hello, my name is" but they knew that stuff already pretty much! Then we did cute stuff like teaching them action verbs by actually doing the stuff. Dance, stop! Run, stop! Run fast! Run slow! hehehe But the cool thing was seeing these cases we had heard about turn into real people. I suddenly saw how important the work here at LRS is. Today I'm working at the front desk, which is scary because I have to answer phones and figure out the phone system. But the good thing is I get to blog!! The other girls are working at Water Street Rescue Mission.
Next week, I'm going to Philly for VISTA training for my actual job at Tabor Community Services, and I will start there the following week (29th). It has been interesting seeing God in new ways. I feel like people in the city are much more friendly than in the suburbs (at least where I live). But I guess you encounter people differently in the city than you do in the suburbs. When you're in a suburb, you see people at WalMart or Turkey Hill... but here, you see people on the streets or sitting on their porches.
Last Sunday, we went to a church called In The Streets. It was very charismatic, and I am not used to things like that. The church was very diverse culturally, which was cool to see. A really awesome thing was that the guy who leads the youth came up front with his wife and talking about how they are taking the youth to a retreat this week, and the pastor said how the guy wasn't going to get paid time off his job... so the pastor decides right there that he is going to give them $100 to help pay their bills. Then he asked for 9 other volunteers to do the same, and people just started raising their hands! I couldn't imagine people in my church being so generous. The wife was crying because she was just so touched. It was really awesome. BUT they had a prayer time at the end, and we saw some guy like convulsing as someone prayed for him, then he collapsed on the ground. I didn't know what was happening to the guy. Anyway we are going to a different cross-cultural church every week, which will be really cool.
God is challenging me to see everyone as His children--the homeless, the refugee, the business man. We come back to that who the hell do I think I am statement. It has just been interesting living here with everyone because no one makes fun of me for putting toothpaste on my pimples at night or wearing 3 braids at night to make my hair curly. I'm not used to people not making fun of me. Even when it is in jest, I still get made fun of.
OH we watched the movie Amistad last night, and it was WOW! There was some nudity I def could have done without, but what a fantastic movie. It is about slaves in Africa who led an uprising on the ship when they were being brought to America. There was a guy translating English to Mende for the lawyer, and the lawyer said something about "what I should have said," and the translator said, "I can't translate that. We don't have should in our language, either you do something or you don't." Then the African man who was imprisoned said, "What kind of a place is this where you almost mean what you say? Where laws almost work? How can you live like that?" I thought those quotes were really interesting.
Alright, I guess that's all for now.

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

Jess this sounds really awesome! It seems like a great opportunity and the part about what happened at the church sounds a bit scary but also eye opening. I hope the rest of the experience is wonderful!