Anticipation welled inside of me. I was on a new journey to serve the broken and lost in the Tender Loin District of San Francisco. My youth group regularly served with the San Francisco Rescue Mission in this district, but I myself had never been before. Nerves flustered through me as I sat in the back of a big blue Suburban. “I’m going to San Fran!” this thought echoed through my head along the drive. I had only been once before and I couldn’t wait to get out there and provide for the needs of the homeless with the help of my closest friends.
We arrived and waited in the parking garage for our group to gather. Before entering the gates of the community park we prayed that our hard work would make a difference, and that we would be blessed in all that we would do that day. Oh boy, did we work hard! I was quick to buddy up with my friend Conrad and we grabbed our grocery bags and took to the streets. Walking in the smoldering sun light with five full grocery bags in each hand was most definitely a trying task. Motel by motel our bags would weaken. By the time we had gotten to our last stop the kind man opened the door and gratefully received the bag of groceries. As he shut the door, and Conrad and I began to walk away we heard a loud RIP! Followed by a CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK! The bag had ripped open and his goods were scattered over his floor. Good thing we got out of there swiftly!
We traveled down the eight or so flights of stairs and made our way back to the park. There we joined as a group again and picked up our hot meals. I felt so terrible inside as the hungry men and women on the street would yell out at us asking for food. Regrettably we had to turn them down because these meals had a set destination. Our group spent the next few hours walking the streets, climbing up to nine flights of stairs at a time (Conrad and I just had to volunteer to take the top floors), to get these meals to those set destinations. Was the extensive traveling, aching back, sore heels, and sweaty brow really worth this? You bet your Granny’s last chin hair it was! The hard work we set out and accomplished was well worth the feeling of fulfillment we gained.
But fulfillment wasn’t the only thing we gained from all of our extensive work. The rest of the day we got travel around some of San Fran and hit the coolest spots, while experiencing some bumps along the way. When we finished our duties with the San Francisco Rescue Mission we headed over to the Downtown mall. But our travels were forcibly halted just across the street from the mall. Our group stood in awe of the thousands of people who formed the Gay Rights Parade. Yes, we were delayed because we didn’t take into count that we were in San Francisco the weekend after California denied marriage rights to the homosexual community. Finally, after around ten minutes, the parade passed and we were able to hit the mall.
The rest of our day consisted of the freezing bay waters and falling asleep on the ride home. Forever I will look back at this journey and laugh, smile, and cry. Laughter will arise from dropped groceries and parades, fulfillment will bring smiles, and saltwater will forever burn my eyes to tears.
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