Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Summer Outreach – Day 2 Reflection

Summer Outreach Cincinnati MAY 2015

Today was the first day that our group was split into two smaller sections and had the opportunity to experience two very different service locations. My group took a trip downtown and served at the Prince of Peace Chapel in their Bridge Ministry program. In the Bridge program, volunteers work with the lead pastor to bring comfort and community to people who may be experiencing homelessness or other tough situations.

They believe that it’s important for people to know that God is always on their side, even when it may seem that God isn’t there during their tough times. When we initially arrived, we were asked to fill watering cans and we were shown to the garden to water all of the newly planted flowers and vegetables seeds. After watering, we had the opportunity to participate in a bible study that the volunteers put on to people who are willing to listen.

Pastor John normally leads the Bible study, but today Pastor wasn’t able to join so a volunteer and a frequent visitor led the discussion. With that, we had the opportunity to listen to individual’s stories and how God has shaped their lives. I realized that even though those people were put in tough situations, they had such a strong belief in God and they understood that having a deep relationship with God was the only way that they could learn to have a deep and loving relationship with others around them. After listening to inspirational stories, we then served lunch to every person who participated in the Bible study.

Summer Outreach Cincinnati MAY 2015

It is truly a humbling experience to be able to serve others who are so much less fortunate than we are. People who are experiencing such difficulties still find a way to look for the good in life, in God, and in other people. It brings our lives into perspective when we have the opportunity to look at all that we’ve been graced with and we realize that we are given so much more by God than what we deserve because of his grace. We are not just helping people in need, but God is continually helping us to grow as individuals, and in our faith with Him.

The other place we visited today was the New Life Furniture Foundation. Their mission is to provide furniture and other essential items to individuals who were experiencing homelessness and are now in a new home. Even though we didn’t get to deliver or pick up items, we were still able to make a difference by organizing the warehouse and by putting together “start up” packages for people in need. We were not able to have a direct experience with the people we were helping; however, we all agree that it was amazing to know that these families would be receiving these gifts so they could live more comfortably.

Helping these organizations are always an amazing experience and we are all very thankful that we were able to build a community within our small group and make a difference to several families in the Cincinnati area.

After volunteering we enjoyed a wonderful supper with the Franciscan Sisters of Cincinnati. For supper we divided ourselves to sit with the sisters so that we could get to know their story. Hearing about how they helped others encouraged us to be better people by following in similar footsteps. It was also nice to here about the activities they did in their free time, reminding us that they are also humans with exciting lives. When the sisters left, we had smiles on our faces, glad that we had the opportunity to spend time with them. Marci then gave us a quick tour of their chapel, showing us some of the symbols and the altar of relics, which are objects that had a connection with saints. Seeing and learning about the symbols is useful when going back home and seeing them in our own churches.

The last part of our day was spent with a time of reflection. Outside the Franciscans of the Poor Chapel there was a labyrinth so we thought it would be a good idea to put it to use. Before we walked the labyrinth, we asked all of our group members to reflect upon the things we are thankful for and things we take for granted. Since we are working with several under privileged individuals this week, it allows us to step back and realize how blessed we are in our every day lives.

Once we walked the labyrinth and reflected within ourselves, we all met in the middle and listened to “Thankful,” by Josh Grobin. This song assisted in the theme of our personal reflection and we were all able to share with each other after the song ended. I feel as if our group got closer from this reflection and it was the perfect way to end a beautiful day.

Katie Cervany, Kara Duling and Stephen Carl

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