This June, I traveled with my youth group from Calvary Baptist Church on June 23, 2012, to Baltimore, Maryland, to share God’s love by being a presence in the downtown area and assisting where needed. It was very inspiring and encouraging for me to observe how the community responded and most were receptive to us, though we visited for just a short while. I believe we truly made a lasting difference in Baltimore.
It took about 10 hours to drive to Baltimore from Northern Kentucky, but we went prepared with open hands and hearts to serve. On the first work day, we began painting the first floor hallway at Rosemont Elementary and middle school in the inner city. For amateurs, I believe we did a pretty decent job. It was very emotionally moving when the principal broke down in tears, expressing his appreciation and conveying to us that no one had ever done anything like this… no one had given of themselves or their time to make the students’ world a better place. An assignment we had scheduled to do a few days later was to spread mulch in the landscaped areas of a park, however, plans were changed and we returned to the school to complete the work we had started. It was good that we polished everything off and it felt “complete” after our second visit. Fortunately, one of the other youth groups on the trip was able to fill the void and work on the mulching in the park.
On another day, the church we partnered with in Baltimore was giving free HIV testing near the church where we had stopped. We coordinated with other youth groups from around the U.S. to distribute postcard-sized reminders that the testing was being offered as a free healthcare service that day. I was physically worn out by the end of the day, but it was very uplifting when most were very friendly and appreciative for the assistance we were providing. We had some great conversations with a few residents that we engaged.
One fun thing that a few of us participated in was ordering the craziest or most unique thing we could find on the menus at restaurants. I ordered different things including the kitchen sink burger at a pub, Sheppard’s pie at “The Live of Reilly” pub, and I actually ate 3 whole crabs one of the last nights we were there that were provided by the church.
Besides helping the Baltimore community and the churches we had the privilege of working with, I sincerely believe this trip strengthened my relationships with my closest church friends. There were a couple others that went that I had never really talked to before this trip, but now, I’ll talk to them a couple times a week. This experience encouraged me to live more for God every day. I’m glad I was able to participate with this mission trip because, simply put, it’s strengthened my faith tenfold.
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