Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Houston Mission Trip: Part 1

Our car ride down to Houston was not bad at all. Despite almost getting rammed into, we had deep conversations and caught up with our lives. Tess came back from college and Matt was moving on with his life. We talked about old friends, what we’re doing for the summer, and what blessings are set to come ahead like Matt’s marriage. The car ride did not take as long as a thought because we had so many conversations. 

I only slept for the last two hours of the ride! When we got to Christ Church Cathedral, we were greeted by a smile and some waves by 3 ladies: Tori, Nettie, and Christy. They were very helpful and nice and took our bags. After we got settled, we were so hungry and patiently waited and listened to the CUSE rules explained by Tori and Nettie. Each day out of the two interns, we would have either Tori, Nettie, or Fisher. Finally, dinner time. Finding dinner was harder than we thought because at first we had reservations at 8:30, but after everything it was 9:30 on a Sunday so not many restaurants were open. We finally agreed to go to Buffalo Wild Wings. It was lighting and thundering but not raining. Until we were about half a mile away from Buffalo Wild Wings, it started to rain, and we all started running. We got there safely and enjoyed a great meal, and got back home safely. Surprisingly, we walked back, but it was not raining.

On Monday, Fisher and Nettie helped us with our journey. Our first mission of the day was to serve at Emergency Aid Coalition (EAC). EAC was a place where meals were served and where families can get clothes and food from the pantry. It was like an Constance Abbey on steroids. We divided into groups: the boys with Nettie and the girls with Fisher. First, the boys organized the clothes, and the girls packed some donuts. The clothes that were given were surprisingly really nice. There were about ten full suit outfits. After about an hour and a half, we switched jobs. The boys organized a lot of clothes and the girls packed a lot of donuts. The abundant fresh smell of the donuts made me want to go to Gibson’s. The girls were excited to organize clothes because organizing things is right up Libby’s alley. I don’t think the boys were as excited about packing lunches because it doesn’t sound too fun, but we worked through it. We established an assembly line: Matt and John handle the sandwiches, I handle the donuts, and Carrigan and Nettie folded the bags. As I was sacking lunches, I began to like it. It kept on growing on me and liked it so much I didn’t want to leave. I seriously didn’t want to leave. 

Throughout the rest of the day, I asked Matt when are we going to make sack lunches again. That was our only day, but Matt suggested helping out at St. Mary’s Cathedral and More than a Meal back in Memphis. I realized I loved it so much that I would do this as a full-time job (if it paid more). Sadly, we had to leave, so I went to go get my backpack. When I got my backpack, I overheard the conversation between Nettie and the supervisor of EAC, and the supervisor said she could use more help, but she understood we had to go. I was surprised to see how much more help she needed because we organized so much clothes and packed about 150 sandwiches. I felt sad but realized that you can never stop serving; there is always something to do. Serving is so great and can lead to lots of happiness in the world. 

We went back to Christ Church Cathedral, and ate lunch, the typical sandwiches and chips. Then, we went on an “Instahunt”, which is a scavenger hunt used by phones. The girls were on a team with Nettie, and the boys were on a team with Fisher. It was fun because it was a way for us to explore Houston. We explored new churches, experienced a personal tour of Rice University, and saw most of downtown Houston from the the train. The highlight of the Instahunt was when the girls went a taco shop to take a picture with the owner. The funny thing is that the owner was not there and that they had to walk about a mile or more to the taco shop. While they did that, we, the boys, went to Rice University to continue our scavenger hunt and gain points. We went back to the church and ate pizza. 

After the delicious pizza, we went to go work with Friends of Northside, an organization that is a branch of Attack Poverty.  They work to empower people who have fallen on hard times and provide support for those in need. The house we were working on had been burned down. It was very sad when the woman told us her story because she thought it was going to be the best year of her life for her family, but everything seemed to be falling apart. She is still optimistic and believes this year will be the best of her life. It was us and another group of ten people who helped us, and it showed that there are many good people making this world become better. After more than two hours of hard work, the dumpster was 85% full. Although we were tired, we learned from it. Personally, I wanted to work more. We had to go back and took showers. 

The long cold showers were nice, and Matt treated us with some ice cream. After having a conversation about ramen, Matt bought three packets of ramen: beef, chicken, and shrimp. We had a little mini ramen bar and also were excited about the leftover pizza from dinner. Sadly, the kitchen was locked, so we couldn’t get the pizza, so Matt bought us more pizza. It was very kind of him, and then we finally fell asleep. At the end of the day, we saw how serving can impact so many people, but we also realized how serving can impact us. We learned from it, and Matt told us a quote that was stated by Father Gregory Boyle, S. J. who spoke at Holy Communion. It was like we shouldn’t change the homeless people to become us but change us and them to become one whole group. Personally, this trip so far has brought me closer to my youth group because I was not always social with them. I was always friends with the older people. I am glad this has impacted me, and I know this will motivate me to come to youth group more.

On Tuesday, we had to go back and work with the Friends of Northside to finish up our work. Fisher and Tori worked with us. We were the only group there. We got a lot of work done, but we all knew that we could have gotten a lot more done with a new dumpster. The dumpster was full in 20 minutes. Despite this, we kept on working and just put everything to the side to make it easier for the next group. The highlight of this was that everyone was working and working together. Also, Matt showed his dad-like traits by sawing down some tough wood and dragging and picking up heavy things. He could be ready to be a dad already! We got the front walls and roof down, and all there was was the scraps and the back. We had to go back to the church for lunch, and sadly we aren’t going back because we have to serve others and explore other areas of Houston.

- Brandon Quach