Wednesday, October 20, 2010

San Francisco Mission Trip

Watching a musician play on the wharf
On October 6th I had the opportunity to head down to San Francisco with some high school students from church for a weekend full of serving. I talked about it earlier, but mostly just reflected on being about to drive the van. This time I'd like to share about the actual trip.

As a leader I mostly hung back, watched and made sure they didn't do any too foolish. That's a relatively new experience for me, but it was good. Also, because of the type of helping we were doing, it wasn't always appropriate to take pictures. So the few I have are mostly of us just hanging out.

Sixteen of us headed down to SF. It took about 10 hours of driving (4 the first night, 6 the next morning). The first day we got there, we were early, so we headed down to the wharf to hang out and let the student buy some souvenirs. What made it super awesome was that it was Fleet Week at the time. So while we were driving across the Bay Bridge there was a jet doing laps and tricks around the city. Once on the wharf I couldn't help but just stare up in the sky in amazement. Then, as we were leaving, the Blue Angels came out and were practicing their moves. It was so much fun to watch!

Playing air hockey in our living area
That night we headed out to the House Of Chicken & Waffles. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised - mixing fried chicken with a waffle is actually pretty good. Afterwards, we headed on a prayer tour. For the tour we drove around while our host told us about the city, it's struggles, it's uniqueness, and how we can pray for it. It was an eye opening experience.

The next morning (Friday) we headed to the SOMA district (South Of Market Street). Lots of Internet start-ups are here because it's close to the financial district, yet is relatively affordable. Being "affordable" also tends attracts many homeless and disadvantaged people. We got to do something called a City Search where we walked around and talked to people on the street. We asked about what they like about SF, what they dislike, what problems they face, etc. It was a great learning experience. The group was also given $2 per person for lunch. We pooled our money so we could get something cheap and then be able to buy food for someone else.

That afternoon we got down to some old fashioned work at the SF Food Bank. We sorted bell peppers and packaged up spaghetti. Their mission is to feed the hungry in SF, and so far they are succeeding.

On Saturday morning we got to serve in Oakland. We headed out to St. Vincent de Paul's where they provide free meals to people in the community. We helped to prepare and serve the meals. I got to walk around the outside and clean. Then I got to stand around and watch for anyone causing a problem (then I would report it and let someone else deal with it).

Taking a break at the SF Food Bank
Saturday afternoon we headed back to SF near the Gold Gate Park. The students were given $20 with a simple task: Find someone in need and figure out a way to meet that need. They could help one person, or many people. For this task I really hung back, so I'm not 100% sure what the students did, but I know they fed a couple people and bought a blank for another person. It was fun watching them as they became more comfortable in the city.

Saturday evening we ate at the Red Sea Restaurant. There you don't use any utensils. You use your hands with food that's on a shared family platter. It's a fun experience! Also, since my parents live in the Bay Area, they were able to come up to Oakland and have dinner with the group. It was so nice being able to see them, even though it was very short.

Sunday was marked by waking up early and driving all the way back to Corvallis. 10 hours of driving after a long weekend wasn't easy, but there were some fun conversation to help pass the time. We hit topics from favorite Disney villain to what the student's dating plans are. It all ended in a game of Uno (no, I didn't play, just listened) and much loud singing.

Mr. Jones standing on Jones St.
It was a great trip and I'm really glad I was able to participate.

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