As the sun rises over the horizon with streams of orange rays creeping through the window, my six o’clock phone alarm rings simultaneously with five others. I emerge from my bottom bunk bed, slip on my soft foot brace, and walk out of my room to go have breakfast. It had been the fifth day my church youth group and I had stayed in the Pilgrimage, a church in Washington D.C.
For four days our youth groups from Long Island had been broken up into smaller groups. Each morning we were sent out to serve in four different soup kitchens. Today, nevertheless, my group had the privilege of assisting with The Church of The Brethren and Martha’s Table.
The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and the morning dew was no longer present by the time we arrived at The Church of The Brethren. To start us off, we were greeted by an older man named Frank who left California for a month to dedicate his time to the soup kitchen. Frank appointed half of our group to work in an assembly line to serve the food and the other half to wash the dishes.
I had the pleasure of portioning out the food. Furthermore, I was able to welcome all the soup kitchen clients as they came up one by one to accumulate their meals. Everything had been running efficiently until the last gentleman to be served started to rummage through the garbage before merging onto the assembly line. It seemed that I was the only one in my group to notice this action taking place.
I benevolently addressed the man and asked, “How are you doing today, Sir?” The gentleman replied, “So far it has started off like every other day.” “I’m sorry to hear that, Sir; hopefully I can improve your day by giving you these,” I assured him. I disposed of the fork that the man had retrieved from the garbage and handed him two clean ones. “Think of it as one for now and one for later.” In the midst of my effortless gesture, the man’s melancholy expression vanished as a smile began to reflect upon his face.
As the day continued, my small group and I took the metro train uptown to Martha’s Table. Martha’s Table has served as a corporation to provide children and youth with meals and supervised learning since 1980. Prior to entering the three- to four-year-old classroom, I secured my brace in place, preparing it to be trampled by the size seven toddler shoes of the twenty energetic children.
Consequently, I found myself becoming attached to one child in particular as I entered the room. I saw this little boy standing in the corner of the classroom, tears rolling down his cheeks, watching the world go by. He was that typical child who always said, “I want my mommy.” I walked up to him, handed him a random puzzle piece I had found on the table, and asked him to hold on to it for me.
The tears stopped flowing and immediately he forgot all about wanting to return home. Whatever exhaustion I had from our continuous week was expunged from the boy’s reaction. As the sun began to fall, we said our goodbyes, leaving just enough time to catch the next metro train.
Once I took a seat on the train, I felt a sharp object piercing against my leg. I reached into my pants pocket to discover a missing puzzle piece lying in the palm of my hand. A heartwarming sensation evolved within me as I came to realize my passion for Elementary Education.
This entire trip to Washington D.C. became a once in a life time experience for me, one that I will not forget. In some way, shape or form, I was shown how many people were being taken care of each day. Of course our church youth groups were taking care of the homeless in the soup kitchens, but that is only where it began.
Although we left our family members on Long Island, we were able to contact them through out the trip, allowing us to relax and believe everything was flawless back home. In addition to all those people, our small church youth groups were under protection as well. I was able to rely on my group to look after me and my foot that I had broken the week before the trip.
I came on the trip looking to have a great time and show how much of a help I am to others around me. However, I ended up “walking away” with much more than that.
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