Editor's note: Henry recently returned from the Middle School Mission Trip to Oklahoma City. He shares his experience with us here:
I had just gotten back from a long trip the day before Covenant middle school students left for our mission trip to OKC. You would think I would’ve packed ahead of time and gotten everything ready for the trip so I wouldn’t have to stay up super late and just throw everything in a bag. Sorry to disappoint, but that’s the exact opposite of what I did. I had to stay up late and wash clothes, find my sleeping bag and do all of the other things the packing list said to do. Despite all of that, I was so excited to go to OKC for a lot of reasons. I was excited to go help the homeless community there; I was excited to go on a trip with my friends; I was even excited to go to the city of my favorite basketball team. Overall, I was extremely grateful that I went and here’s why.
On our first day we went to City Rescue Mission, an organization that houses the homeless and offers specific courses to help them with whatever problems they are facing. While we were there, we ate breakfast with the women (the facility is divided into a men’s side and a women’s side) and talked with them about whatever was on their minds. Later, we all went to their chapel and participated in a worship service. Then, we cleaned bathrooms, wiped windows and took out the trash.
After that, we split up into groups and did a poverty simulation. This was to help us understand the challenges that some people have when it comes to transportation and other essential tasks. We split up into groups and went to specific destinations throughout the city only taking the bus or walking. Later in the week, we did a few more activities like this. For example, we did a scavenger hunt where we went around the city searching for specific landmarks and destinations. We also did a homeless simulation. This really helped me understand the struggles that homeless people have to face. In the simulation, each group of five or six people was given only $6 and that was supposed to pay for everybody’s food. When my group was in line to order we were talking about our money and a lady behind us offered to give us money if we needed help. This was before she knew that we were doing a simulation. But, the thought of doing that was really nice, and it helped me see that there are a lot of people in the world who are willing to help the impoverished/homeless community. which I thought really helped me understand the struggles that they have to face.
We also hosted a hot dog cookout at Hope House, the organization we worked with. Hope House offered temporary housing to the homeless. On the last day, we volunteered to work at an organization for kids that gives them a safe space to go after school and work on homework or just to relax with friends. While we were there, we organized clothes and made toiletry kits to pass out to the homeless. We also served lunch for the homeless at a neighborhood park.
While I was on the trip, I met a lot of great people. I met Treb and Brandy who worked for Hope House. I also met a man named Klaus. He was in his early 20’s, and he had been homeless for seven or eight years. He told us that he was about to buy his own apartment, and he wanted to make a living creating videos to put on YouTube. He was extremely kind and I am so glad I met him.
Going on this trip helped change my perspective on homelessness. It made me realize that everyone has a story to tell and that they all deserve a second chance. Going to OKC also made me realize that everyone can help fix homelessness by giving like the lady who offered us money if we couldn’t pay for our food, or by serving at an organization like the City Rescue Mission. Finally, another reason I am so grateful that I went on this trip was because it helped strengthen relationships between my friends and me. I also got to know people like Treb and Brandy, and Klaus. Overall, OKC was awesome. I met some great people and learned a lot. Going also helped change my perspective on homelessness and encouraged me to be kind to everyone I see.