Well I’ve been back from Toronto for almost exactly a week now. It’s hard to believe. I told myself I wouldn’t forget everything that happened, but the memories are definitely already somewhat faded. I shall use my journal to remind me what was going through my mind. It would take a long time to tell you everything that happened, and I don’t think you would read it all, so I will highlight a few events.
1. Driving in the van (18 hours there and 18 hours back). On the way there it was a bit awkward at first. By the time we drove back we all knew each other pretty well. We had a four-hour conversation in the back of the van about who God is to us and what we’re struggling with. It was a time of great vulnerability and spiritual growth. The times in the van while we were driving around Toronto were also good times. In the morning it was a good time to wake up and in the evenings it was a good time to debrief with each other (share good and bad moments).
One exciting thing that happened while we were driving on the way back to IA: we were behind an erratic truck driver (18- wheeler). He was swerving all over the road while slowing down a lot. As we passed him I saw him swig from a bottle. Not sure if he was drinking alcohol, but he was sure driving like he was drunk. Don’t worry, we reported him.
2. “God moment “1”: Karissa (changed for the purpose of blogging) was a very tough girl. All the kids are tough because their life situations force them to be tough in order to survive. Karissa was in my small group and she was very tough and very disobedient. She enjoyed getting revenge with her friends and during the program. She never listened to anyone and was very independent and moody. Due to certain turn of events, I ended up praying specifically for her and asking God to use us to break her hard shell. Later that afternoon I was able to communicate with her about forgiveness. She actually listened to me and I felt like she understood. I did not have time to make the connection with the gospel, but hopefully she made that connection in Word Up or maybe I just planted a seed.
3. “God moment “2”: The second two days we were at Jane and Finch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_and_Finch). I walked some of the group to their homes. We were riding the bus and two of the boys asked me if I had a boyfriend. My first reaction was to say no, because I knew their questions would be less than desirable. I said “yes” anyways, though. They did ask some very blunt, inappropriate questions, but through them I was able to give them a glimpse of what a healthy relationship looks like. I do not, by any reach, have the perfect relationship with my boyfriend, but it is very different than the relationships they have experienced or seen with in their parents. I gave them my definition of love and God’s love and showed them that not every man has to get the girl pregnant and then leave. Premarital sex is not a must, and there are many good guys and girls with self-respect and discipline out there.
4. On Sunday we went to Niagara Falls. It was big and powerful and gorgeous! We walked around in the shops and just had fun being around each other.
5. Blessings. On a mission trip you expect to bless others, not be blessed, but we were blessed beyond belief! God taught us lots, the church fed us meals and hosted a movie night for us, we were safe driving, everyone on our team got alon fabously, etc!