In case you were wondering if it was difficult to blog while on a mission trip that you’re in charge of, the answer is: it’s not. It can be done, however. So, here’s to catching up. Again, please excuse the typos,
Have you ever woken up 40 youth to your own attempt to play a ukulele? I did. Tuesday morning. They were not fans. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only did I enjoy it, but my joy spread to others and some of the leaders began singing. Sometimes, it’s things like this that keep you sane on the road.
Our morning started off like many, except for the need for biscuits. They were only McDonald’s, but beggars can’t be choosers. And I’m pretty positive there weren’t any complaints.
After our biscuit excursion, we headed over to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. When we arrived, we were given the option to see a free presentation (think: motivational musical) by a group of theater performers, ages 5-17. They participated in a summer program with the Institute and they told the story of Dr. Gaston from Birmingham, AL. Called Room 30, it told the story of Dr. A.G. Gaston, who helped create a community for the black people living in Birmingham before and during the civil rights. Several of the youth proclaimed this was by far, their favorite part of the trip.
After the performance, we went into the museum with scavenger hunt in hand. The youth winded their way through the museum finding the answers to all of their clues. What happened when they did this, they read many of the pieces that one would normally gloss over. I’ll call that a success.
Now, let’s get real. We are on day 4 of a 9 day trip. We’ve been together for a while. Our brains hurt a little, and we’re tired of being on the road. Many of us have sore throats and are pretty tired (yours truly included). Praise tiny baby Jesus for Mucinex, Claratin, Day Quil, NyQuil, Gatorade, and vitamin C gummies. We are all a little better off today because of them. Little did we (the leaders) know, that our respite would come at DOOR Atlanta.
Let’s just skip dinner and go right to DOOR (we ate at the Varsity, by the way. I’m positive more than 5 kids have told me they are ready to become vegetarians now after this trip… And they met my dear mother. I have never seen youth so excited to meet my mother but I can assure she loved all of the attention.) So, on to DOOR.
DOOR is hosted at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA. Right across the street form the capital. We arrived and filed into the room to get our orientation from Anthony. He’s lovely, by the way. As are all the folks who work here.
As an introduction, he wanted to hear form the youth. Each and to say their name, what made them excited, and one thing they learned. This is where my little grinch heart swelled 10x the size. One by one, as each one said their name and the thing that made them come alive, they said something they had learned. Not just learned, but thought about, stewed over, and really held close to their hearts. Here’s an example… (get your kleenex out folks)
What makes me come alive: “I love singing and acting!”
What I have learned so far: “I have learned that our history has way more complexity than what we learn in school and I think that we should focus on teaching this information.”
What makes me come alive: “The view from the top of a mountain, almost a summary of what you’ve done and your journey to your position.”
Something I’ve learned this week: “Our world can always, ALWAYS, improve, and anyone can stand up to make that change.”
Here are a few more from the “something I’ve learned” part:
“I learned about Viola Luzzio, a civil rights activist (white, married, with kids), who was shot in the car by white men for her beliefs.”
“I learned how so many events in small, unheard of towns, really shaped the movement.”
“I’ve learned that when people take a case to the Supreme Court, like Brown v. Board of Education, they are taking a big risk that the court will go against them. I realized that this happened in Plessy v. Ferguson, and caused segregation to be the law of the land for a long time.”
“The civil rights movement wasn’t just in the past, it continues to be a struggle in the present.”
Cue the adults getting emotional because we are reminded once again how amazing the youth are.
Now, if all this isn’t enough, then there’s the matter of our arrangements. When you stay at DOOR Atlanta, you stay in a huge gym on the third floor of the church. On mattresses. With everyone else. We didn’t really know what to expect when we signed up with DOOR. We knew we would eat communal meals, probably be with another group, and sleep on a gym floor. We did not know that it would be with over 50 other youth.
Now, this isn’t a bad thing. But when you’re not expecting to see over 50 other youth and adults in a room full of mattresses, drying shower towels, and dirty socks, you can have quite the moment of shock.
Most of us did. But, we marched on. Instead of seeing the massive amounts of people, the sheer joy of mattresses to sleep on instead of a hard floor, the fact that they would not be woken up before 6am (I will admit, I’ve made them get up pretty early the last few days…), and the idea of a continental breakfast (again, we’ve been eating granola and Nutri Grain bars since Sunday morning), our youth were absolutely delighted and excited. Then, once they found out that Friday morning was big breakfast morning, nothing could crush their joy.
Well, that’s about it for today. Let’s see how this sleeping thing goes…