By Brenda Thornton
As many of you know our mission project at Vacation Bible Camp this year was the ZOE project. We collected enough money to provide 12 houses for the kids at ZOE. You might have read some facts and information about ZOE, but I’m going to try to personalize it just a bit more. ZOE stands for Zimbabwe Orphans Endeavor. It’s an empowerment program for orphans and vulnerable children. Empowerment is the key word here.
What you might not know is KiDSCOR did a prayer exchange with these kids not too long ago and their prayer requests were things like; guidance, protection, God’s wisdom; understanding, teamwork, ZOE staff, success, and understanding among the group members. They mostly wanted prayers for others.
After doing the prayer exchange project it made me realize that these kids have a deep appreciation for the support and prayers they get and are thankful to learn new skills that will make them independent productive people in their communities. In the video it talked briefly about the orphans forming groups to work in. They all have names and were named by those orphans in that group. I’m going to list all 21 work group names so you can read them and get a sense of how this program helps these kids become independent productive people in a world that could be leaving them behind. I know that these kids will be so grateful and thankful for all the efforts you did to provide so many houses for them and the prayers that they received too.
WORK GROUPS of ZOE:
Unity, Tinyade (we are proud); Madalitso (blessings); Tawina (winners); Tigwirizane(lets unite); Chimwemwe(happiness); Chifundo (mercy); Tikondane (love one another); Mphatso (gift); Mtendre (peace); Mulungu Apatsa (God provides); Lonjezo (promise); Tamandani (praise him); Chisomo (grace); Mayankho(answered prayer); Takondwa(unity); Chikondi(love); Tithandizane(lets help one another); Tiyamike(gratitude); Tiyanjane(lets unite); Chikhulupilliro(faithfulness).
By Emily Davidson
Well, our mission trip has come to an end. It’s hard to believe. The week went by so fast. Here’s a quick summary of what we worked on the last two days.
On Friday, we started out by splitting back into two groups. One group went to work with Meals on Wheels again. The other group helped at a food pantry. I was with the group at the food pantry. It was very cool because it was set up like a grocery store. Instead of just handing people a bag of food, they made it so people could pick their own food. We helped stock the shelves, separate a big bag of beets into individual bags, and put bread into bags.
After the food pantry, we headed back to the UN Church Center and met with Chantilly. She introduced us to a man named Marcus. He talked to us about being houseless (he had been on the streets before) and what a group he works with is doing to try and help people who are living on the streets. His group tries to break the cycle of things that cause people to lose their houses. It was very interesting to hear his story.
On Friday night, we got to go to a synagogue to worship. We didn’t understand everything that was being said, but we had fun and felt very welcome. After worship, some of us were able to have dinner together. We had so much fun laughing and talking. It was a great night.
On Saturday, we woke up and went to the Church of the Village in Greenwich Village. We helped set up and prepare for a lunch they have for people in need in their neighborhood. One of my jobs was peeling carrots. They were the biggest carrots I’ve ever seen! I also really liked handing out care packages to the people there who needed them.
After that, we were done. It was such an amazing week. I really feel like we learned a lot, were able to help others, and we had a great time too. Here was the quote I thought of while trying to tell about my favorite part of the trip:
‘Deliver your hearts just as God delivered his to you.’
I hope that’s what we did this week.
An Amazing Day
Written By Emily Davidson
So, this update is going to be a little short. It’s been a day packed with so many fun things. So many things that it’s almost 11pm, and I’m just getting back to the hotel. Not much time left for writing!
We started the day by breaking into two groups. One group went to make and serve meals at a synagogue while the other group delivered meals for Meals on Wheels. I was part of the group that went to deliver meals. I was nervous at first, but it turned out to be great! We saw so many smiles, and the people seemed so happy to see us and get their meals. I never thought about how hard it is for older people who don’t have family or friends to help them get food. I was glad to get to help them for today. It also made me feel braver, and after we were done, I gave out my first care package to a man on the street who needed help. Wow, that felt good, and he seemed happy to get it.
After serving, we went on a tour of the Museum of Jewish Heritage where we learned about some of the horrible ways Jewish people were treated before and during WWII. The museum helps remind people of what happened. They hope this makes people work harder to keep it from happening again.
After that, we had some free time. My mom and I went to the 9/11 Museum. It was a beautiful museum, and I learned a lot about that day.
Now, I’m off to sleep. Another busy day is planned for tomorrow!
Our Day of Learning
Written By Emily Davidson
Today was another cool day in the Big Apple. After meeting up in the morning and getting a review of our plan, we walked to the subway station. Our adventure started early today. We got on the train but soon found out we had to be in one of the front cars. At each stop, we had to get out of one car and run to the next on the subway train. We finally decided that wasn’t working well, and we just got off to wait for the next train. It was quite a crazy start to our journey.
Our plan for the day was all about learning. Pastor Lisa told us to serve as we went so several of our group members helped others by sharing a care package or giving out some extra tickets we had. Our plan for the day, though, was focused on learning about the immigrants’ experience in the city in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We started with a trip to see the Statue of Liberty. We rode a ferry to the place Lady Liberty stood proud and tall. We had a few minutes to take photos and walk around the base of the statue. After that, we went back on the ferry and rode to Ellis Island. There, we learned about what the immigrants went through once they arrived here. Finally, we went to a tenement museum and learned about life for immigrants who lived in tenement housing and worked in sweatshops. It was a very interesting museum.
We got a little break after all that learning and went to Little Italy to have dinner together. It was delicious and fun. Some of the girls even got up to dance with the accordion player in the restaurant.
Our last stop was the 9/11 Memorial. It is a beautiful place to remember those who died on that day.
Wow, what a day! It was 7 miles of walking and I am tired, but I can’t wait for tomorrow!
Monday morning came fast as we got up around 6:00 to get ready and pack up. We spent some time reflecting on our trip and what we learned before breakfast. It was our last meal with the guests (those experiencing homelessness) at The Bridge. It rained that morning and there were many new faces as well as those we’d gotten to know over the weekend – faces and stories that have blessed us and will be in our hearts.
Our last stop was Lydia’s House where Karen talked to us about domestic violence and the transitional housing they provide for women and children. We made key chains out of beads and prayed over them for the residents who will receive keys to a safe home.
Lunch was barbeque at Bogarts, and then we headed for home…
Sunday morning we woke up to the loud speaker for the marathon. After breakfast together, we visited The Connection United Methodist Church for worship. It was a fun and engaging time as we interacted with the congregation over donuts and coffee before church. The donuts were a big hit, and they just kept bringing more! We significantly increased the size of the 3rd-5th grade class with our eight students and their four. They had a great lesson and came out smiling as we listened to Pastor Tish’s sermon on Superheroes – ordinary people being extraordinary.
We headed back to The Bridge for lunch with their guests (people experiencing homelessness). It was exciting as we learned that a couple of the men had found jobs! We commented on how they look out for each other in their community – sharing food over dinner and saving food to give to others during the day. Rebecca then took us on The Walk to see and learn more about people experiencing homelessness in the city. It was very enlightening to learn about the dynamics and challenges of being homeless and how it can be a difficult cycle to break. We learned about the resources The Bridge provides in addition to meals and other organizations they collaborate with. Rebecca asked us how you end homelessness in one word – homes. She encouraged our students to get involved back home, emphasizing that one person can make a difference.
We walked on from The Walk to the City Museum for some fun! The kids had a great time climbing and sliding as they explored the museum from top to bottom. There were a few scrapes and bumps along the way with Dean taking the hardest fall and ending up at the hospital for stitches in his chin. We talked and laughed over dinner at Fitz’s with soda and ice cream! It was a joy to be able to eat what we wanted again! We said good-bye to Lou and Duke as they left for home.
We ended the evening with Todd leading worship in the sanctuary as we reflected on the day and sang and danced. The students had been thinking of Dean all evening and made cards for him before going to bed.
Saturday, April 11th
Up and at ‘em early again today with a 7 am bugle call…actually the sounds of the city woke us up this morning. What a racket it makes as it wakes up! Downstairs to breakfast we went to mix and mingle with the community. We all had great success making new acquaintances and will bring back tons of stories of the interesting people and their life stories. The time with our new friends went by quickly because it was time to load up the van before we knew it; off to our next adventure.
The Kingdom House graciously welcomed us and showed us their operations. The House is a place that offers all kinds of assistance to the community; everything from the necessities of food and toiletries to clothing, education, afterschool programs, sporting leagues, and financial education for toddlers to senior citizens. We spend the morning making homeless hygiene kits with the supplies we brought with us. We made over 100 kits! We were so efficient with our kit making that we had time to make thank you gifts for the volunteers of Kingdom House. Ms. Julie gave a great tour and taught us so much about food deserts and how difficult it can be to do a simple task like grocery shopping without a vehicle and on a limited budget.
The afternoon was a bit of free time which was perfect after all our hard work and good attention. We got to visit the arch! First Todd led us in some thoughtful scripture and taught us all how ‘sticky’ God’s love is; it will never leave us. After some parent-student reflection time, it was time to go up in the arch! We all piled in our egg shell…that’s the elevator pods reminded us of and in no time we were 630 feet up above the city! What a view…what a day!
It was a chilly early morning as we excitedly loaded the vans for St. Louis at 6:30am! We arrived at The Bridge around noon and enjoyed a lunch of beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw, bread and cake. Some of us were surprised that the food was better than expected! We enjoyed eating with and getting to know the guests. Angella had been homeless in St. Louis this past winter, but recently moved to Houston where she is working and now has a home and car. She was back visiting to share her story and hope with her homeless friends. Robert, who after getting second helpings, said “I’m like a stray dog. I don’t know where my next meal is coming from.” John hopes to travel to Texas and then around the world soon.
After lunch we headed to the Christian Activity Center where we were greeted by their chaplain, Matt. He started our tour off with a fun game of basketball knock-out which our Matt won. After the tour, we wiped off walls and attended their staff meeting before the children arrived. We all loved interacting with the kids. It was clear the staff have a special connection with the children as they hugged and loved on them. The children freely gave hugs and craved loving touch. We engaged in lively games of basketball, football, and dodge ball with many dog piles, and assisted with homework. The math room was fun with kids playing online math games and board games.
We arrived back at The Bridge hungry for Papa John’s Pizza. We talked about the highlights of the day, and Chris encouraged us to keep asking God what He wants us to learn on this trip. It was a great first day!