This August, I went on a weeklong mission trip to the Edgewater community in Chicago. Since the youth group had gone there a couple times already, we generally knew what to expect from the week. We did work at familiar locations, including when we sorted donations and served food at Cornerstone Community Outreach and when we handed out food at the Care for Real food pantry. We also revisited the men’s shelter we had gone to two years ago and the women’s shelter we served last year. The fact that we had experience with all these locations meant that we were often able to jump right into service, since most of us already knew the routine.
There were a few new locations that we worked at, all of which were more about interacting with people than it was about fulfilling tasks. The first of which was a senior home where we talked with elderly people and played games with them. The second was a facility called Lighthouse, which houses and cares for those who are mentally handicapped. There we sang songs and prayed in what was basically a mini worship session. Lastly, we went to a facility that housed seniors with memory disorders like dementia or Alzheimer’s. The group spent time with them, interacting with them and keeping them company for the afternoon. While we often didn’t stay at these locations for extended periods of time, we did brighten the days of a good number of people.
Since I’m not particularly socially oriented, I often relegated myself to manual labor. And while I don’t mind that, I do wish I had taken more opportunities to do social work. For instance, when we went to the facility for seniors with mental disorders, I ended up doing yard work instead of interacting with the seniors for most of our stay. But looking back, I think it was for the best that I undertook roles like these. Even though the manual labor did feel menial at times, it still had to be done by someone. My fulfillment of that role allowed those who haven’t been on previous mission trips to have a more meaningful experience.
As a whole, I think the mission trip went well. Yes, there were some areas where I wish I had done more. But our mission was to serve the community and show it God’s love, and I believe we did that in full. I can be satisfied with that.