Today we had a very special church service. Every year our youth and some dedicated adults go to Tijuana, Mexico to build a house for a family. This year because of drug war violence and the H1N1 virus they could not go to Mexico. Our church is very mission oriented. What would they do?
They came to Oakland. The town where Marty and I live. Oakland is about 20 minutes from our church in Concord. They came to the First Christian Church in Oakland and made that their home base. Then they worked in the city to help the poor, the needy, and the homeless. They did repairs and clean up at the church. They went to St. Vincent de Paul and served close to 1000 meals a day. They planted trees in the inner city to combat pollution. These young people talked to the poorest of the poor and listened and learned that you can work hard and still be poor and/or homeless.
As we listened to these young people talk about their journey to help at an area so close to home; I could tell they were really moved by the experience. One young woman had realized she goes to school with friends who live in the poorest area of Oakland. She was so upset to learn that area has a 15 year shorter life expectancy. The area has no major grocery stores. They pay more for food and it is harder to get than for Marty and me. They all were stunned to realize poverty, bad water, bad air, and a really bad life was so close to their safe suburban homes.
And after seeing all this up close and personal . . . They plan to go back and plant more trees. They plan to do this mission trip and hopefully go to Mexico also next summer.
I can not begin to tell you how proud I am of these young people and the adults who gave so much to Oakland. Thank you to them and the people who supported them and made the week long trip possible.