A few weeks back I was one of four lucky adults that got to chaperone my church’s youth group on a mission trip to Kansas City. It was truly one of the best weekends of the year for me and I sincerely hope that I get asked to chaperone a trip again in the future.
The Sunday after the mission trip I spoke before the congregation about my experience. I was operating on about 45 minutes of sleep because the night before was Sara’s graduation party. I got home at about 3 in the morning. I was also dogsitting Jupiter and any time I remotely dozed off he was waking me up for various reasons.
This is an approximation of the speech I gave to the congregation. Only it is better (I hope) because I’m not about to fall asleep.
The Kansas City Mission Trip was an amazing experience and there are two things I took out of the trip.
The first thing was perspective. On Saturday night during our debriefing we watched a Nooma video that gave some extremely startling statistics:
It would cost 20 billion dollars to provide basic nutrition, heath care, and clean drinking water for the entire world. 20 billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, until you put it in perspective. 20 billion dollars is how much money Americans spend on ice cream every year.
1 billion people in this world survive on less than 1 dollar a day.
Did you eat this morning? 800 million people in the world won’t eat today. 300 million of those people are kids. Every few seconds somebody dies of hunger.
1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water.
Those are worldwide statistics and they are horrible, but here are a few statistics that hit a little bit closer to home.
In Kansas City on any given night there are 13,000 homeless people. To put that in perspective, Boone is a town of about 13,000 people. There is an entire town of Boone in Kansas City every night that doesn’t have a home.
In Kansas City there are 350 beds for the homeless. To put that in perspective, on a good day, there are about 350 people here during this service worshiping. So think about it this way, everybody in this church would have a place to sleep tonight, but everybody else in town would be looking for a place to sleep. Underneath a bridge. In an abandoned car. On a friend’s couch. If they are lucky.
Many of those people won’t find a place to sleep. That is why when we worked at the Faith Hope Ministry on Saturday, many of the people were there to sleep. They were sleeping there during the day, because there wasn’t a safe place for them to sleep on the streets.
Here is another statistic about the homeless in Kansas City that breaks the heart. The average age of a homeless person in Kansas City is 7 years old.
I can’t imagine what life would be like if I was 7 years old and homeless. What was your greatest concern when you were 7 years old? Mine might have been missing the Duane and Floppy Show. It wasn’t where I was going to sleep that night. It wasn’t when I was going to eat again.
Another part of the perspective I learned on this trip was extremely shallow. I apologize for the shallowness of this observation.
I wouldn’t make it as a homeless person. I just flat out wouldn’t.
I don’t look the way I do because of lack of exercise, although I’m sure that contributes, I like food. I like good food.
I could not survive on the food that the homeless are thankful to have. Even the “good food” that was served at the Faith Hope Mission was tough to choke down.
Our final stop on Saturday night was at a Family Shelter. This shelter had been receiving food donations of expired food from an area Trader Joe’s.
This is perhaps my favorite memory from the trip.
One of our jobs was sorting the food that was too moldy to eat from the food that was moldy, but a person could eat it. The look on our youths face when Andrea handed them a package of strawberries that were covered in mold and told them it was edible… it was priceless.
The truth is that there were going to be people getting that food and those people would be THANKFUL to be getting it.
It is a reminder that everything we get is a gift from God. Everything. That car that you are driving. Gift. That house you are living in. Gift. Those clothes on your back. Gift. That food in your belly. Gift. That air in your lungs. Gift.
The second thing I took from this trip is that this church has an awesome youth group.
I don’t pick the word awesome randomly and I don’t mean it the way most people use the word. It is true that the members of the youth group are many of those things. They are cool. They are neat.
I mean awesome in the truest sense of the word: our youth group is awe inspiring.
The work they did was awe inspiring. The compassion they displayed was awe inspiring.
They inspired me to remember what it truly means to be a Christian. To serve others and always remember the questions: “What can I give? I have been blessed. Who am I going to bless? How can I be more generous? How can I step into my divine responsibility to give?”
I can report to this congregation that without a doubt that the Fair Stand will be in very good hands in 2035.
Here are a few pictures from the trip:
I just want to close this journal entry with two Bible verses that kind of sum up the way I think of the trip:
“Beware lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.” You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, TO BE RICH IN GOOD DEEDS, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
-Timothy 6:17- 19
In particular this passage from Timothy is one of my favorites in the Bible. Along with Psalm 139 and Ephesians 4:29.
Editor’s Note: Since I wrote this blog, I have been asked to chaperone the mission trip to Minnesota next year.