Sunday, June 26, 2011

a huge part of my job is to bring awareness to issues such as homelessness, prostitution, human trafficking, drugs, and the like here in toronto [and yes, stuff like this does happen in our own backyard], but another huge part of what i do is hang out with, and invest in, the youth that come through our 'program' each week.

it's hard to believe that 5:00 p.m. marks the time of arrival for my fourth team this summer. i've had the honor of watching God work through, and in, youth from tennessee and michigan as they've stepped out of their comfort zones and served those on the margins of society; there's nothing i love more than being able to bridge the gap between the upcoming generation and the poor [both of whom are often overlooked due to different stereotypes].

every day i have the privilege of serving alongside of my group in a restaurant for the poor by the name of 'st francis' table'. here, we help prepare top of the notch meals [steak, chicken, shiskabobs, pasta, meatloaf etc] and then serve them their choice of food in true waiter/waitress style. the patrons, as we call them, pay $1/meal for dignity purposes and because of this, they come in knowing that they will be treated with respect and receive good service. after dinner service is done, we have the chance to sit down and hang out. it's in this time the youth get to see firsthand that not all patrons come in for a meal necessarily; some simply come in knowing that they'll have someone to eat with and talk to.

my mornings consist of various activities. sometimes my group and i serve at soup kitchens or at a factory for mentally disabled and ill people. sometimes i get the chance to give the youth a 'tour' around toronto's poorest neighbourhood and allow them to get more of an inside perspective of what it looks like to live in poverty and how God is at work there. and sometimes we spend our mornings handing out bagged lunches or bottled water to those who need it most [more homeless people die due to dehydration per year than by freezing to death in the winter].

as you can imagine, i have to spend a lot of time each day helping the youth and leaders [and myself] process all that they're/we're seeing/thinking/feeling, because the truth is, once saturday rolls around, reality hits; they'll no longer have a program to follow or a host to connect them to the various ministries and non profits in their city. the 'job' is now theirs; it's time for them to head home and ...

LIGHT THEIR CITY UP. [i know they will].

Thursday, June 9, 2011

my heart is so full.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

it's hard to believe that two weeks of training has come and gone and that i'm hours away from putting all that i've learned into practice. 3:00 marks our first official staff meeting and 5:00 marks our first team's arrival.

i've tried to sit down and pound out a blog on several occasions since i've been here, but my words have come up short. that being said, please accept my feeble attempt at putting my thoughts into words even now.

in the past two weeks, i've had the honor of partnering with several ministries/non profits here in toronto. i not only had the chance to listen to passionate people share their 'why i do what i do' stories, but i had the chance to get my hands dirty, too. my heart filled with joy as i:

- served food in several soup kitchens
- folded laundry for nearly 70 beds that provide a safe place to sleep each night for those who wouldn't have one otherwise
- helped those with a mental disability or mental illness meet their quota in a factory so that they can receive a paycheck
- wrote words of encouragement using chalk on a basketball court in the middle of one of toronto's poorest communities.

...and the list goes on.

i find myself asking people to pinch me each day [weird, i know] to see if this really is my life. and it is.

i feel so honored, so blessed.