We’ve had two teams come and go, and saying good-bye has been difficult both times. Thinking about all of the different people we’ve met so far (not even half way through, mind you) astounds me. I think about “Mike the Pilot” from Texas, and his good-natured approach to life; I think about Cheryl from Nebraska, who is ever the optimist and a hard worker, who asked for nothing and gave everything she had. I think I’ve probably met some of the funniest people in the United States as they’ve come in through the Experience Mission trips. It makes me sad to think that I probably won’t see them again, but I’m joyful that they got to do so much for the Portland community while they were here.
This last week, the Nebraska/New Jersey group (lovingly dubbed ‘Nebrersey’) got to work with the Wayside Soup Kitchen, a brand new connection we made the week before. They learned the “ways of the warehouse” from Matt (a great guy who’s expecting a baby soon… baby names anyone?) and we helped grow food to be used in Wayside’s kitchen, a new venture being pioneered by Jake, a volunteer coordinator at the soup kitchen. Betty, the sweetest elderly lady you’ll ever meet, donated the garden where the food is being grown and she was extremely thankful for the teams to come in and give a boost to the project. She said “thank you” by giving us lemonade and muffins! We spent the morning on Monday building trellises and planting beans, hopefully growing a crop to feed lots of hungry patrons at the soup kitchen.
We continued our work with the Portland Housing Authority, trying to make the low-income housing a better place to live. We also returned to Preble Street’s food kitchen and made breakfast with Sean, who is working in the area as a Jesuit Volunteer. The kids missed the group from Texas a lot, especially Rondo, but they quickly grew to love the Nebrersey team. I don’t know if the teams can really realize it, but the relationships they’ve built with the kids here have really made a difference. Lives have been changed for the better, and they continue to be changed by lasting impressions made during the one-week tenures of the groups.
This week has been the EM Team’s week off! We needed it, and we’ve been utilizing it by seeing the sights, being lazy, and getting a -little- bit of work done on the side! We went to Portland Headlight, Peak’s Island, and a ton of other amazing places. We’re praying to be refreshed for the next four weeks of teams, and that we won’t become weary (of each other!) before our time is done here. Thank God for all the things he has done thus far, and thank God for all of the things he will do for Portland, Maine.
by: Chuck Zimmerman
For more information about Experience Mission visit us on our website at www.ExperienceMission.org