by Drew Smith
In the weeks leading up to the middle school mission trip to Oklahoma City, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what work we would be doing, where we were sleeping or if anyone I knew would be going. I went into the trip not expecting anything and came away with experiences I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
Our first day was a scavenger hunt downtown and visiting kids at daycare. I made it through the scavenger hunt (my group came in last) and then went to visit kids who were at daycare. I met a kid named Acorn. We played Xbox. I beat him, but he was a good sport and it was fun. That first day ended with dinner at a Pakistani restaurant and going out for ice cream, before heading back to our apartments.
We got up the next morning and went on a homeless simulation. We had to ride buses to specific places where homeless people can get help for drug and alcohol addiction, medical issues and other things, and ask about their services. We had three hours to go to three places, relying only on public transportation. My group only made it to one. After that, we headed back to the daycare we had been to the previous day. We left earlier than the day before and went to girls apartment building to have a cookout with people from the neighborhood. We handed out flyers to invite them. We served hot dogs and played kickball. There was a boy there named Payton, who by the end of the night, decided I was his best friend.
Before I knew it, the trip was almost over. The last day started with another homeless simulation. We had to walk to different places that offered homeless services and ask about their programs. We had three places to go and only $4 for a meal for five people. (My group didn’t eat and we only made it to one place.) During this outing, we were supposed to ask homeless people for their stories. We met a man named Anthony Parker. It was hard to tell how old he was, but I would guess around 60. He went to jail and when he came back, he had nowhere to go. All of his family were dead. The surprising thing about Anthony was that he wasn’t worried about anything. He said he knew God was protecting him. That’s a lot of faith for someone who had lost so much.
[caption id="attachment_10412" align="alignright" width="150"] Drew Smith[/caption]
That last night, we helped out at a kids’ Bible study at a low-cost apartment complex. I met a little boy named Trey while I was there who was playing with a ball. We started throwing the ball and talking, and then headed inside to get some pizza. There was a Bible story, and a man who sang songs and played his guitar. After water games, we headed back to the rooms to go to bed. We got up early the next morning to head back to Austin. After eight hours in the car arrived back and the trip was over.
I thought I would regret going on this trip before it started, but this was an experience I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I learned a lot and saw a lot of things. I think my biggest takeaway was the homeless people are just like me. The people I met just seemed to have a lot of bad luck.