Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday - Group 2

   Sadly, today was our last day working with the Salvation Army Community Learning Center. We were able to go to a cookout at the Jubilee House. We played with the group of kids we have been spending time with through the week and enjoyed some burgers and hot dogs grilled by the master Daryl. We continued the vacation bible school program we helped to organize, which included a skit for the kids and a monologue performed by Micah as Mary Magdalene. After the skit, we prepared the slip and slide for the kids, which proved to be loads of fun for them. We were able to hang out with the kids until about 2:30, when we had to say goodbye to the group we had made friends with.

   After we left the Jubilee House, we headed downtown for a CSM activity called “immersion”. We were split into two groups and were only given $2.00 to pay for our food for the remainder of the night in order to simulate the life of a homeless person. We also were instructed to find where we could buy supplies (such as a sleeping bag), some indoor place to sleep, as well as pay for someone else’s meal. This proved harder than expected, but each group did end up pooling their money and buying a pizza half off at a shop we found yesterday. Some people became bored during our two hour slot to complete these tasks. We realized that what we experienced was only a tiny sliver of what a real homeless person lives through. The time frame of homelessness was vastly shorter (with an end in sight), and we could opt out in an emergency. We also came to realize that we were treated with so much more respect than those who are homeless.

After we arrived back at the church, we reflected on what we have experienced this week and how it will impact our life back home. We have been able to interact with so many people this week and we hope that the range of backgrounds and the great compassion that we have seen this week will cause us to grow in our faith and as members of a community.

Andrew and Kendra

Friday Group 1

Hi all!

This morning, our group went back to the Seafarers Mission and took our training from yesterday into use for today when the cruise ship and it’s workers arrived.

At the store on level 1, Laura #2, Livi, Cheryl, and I took on the task of selling food, products, candy, and other necessities to the workers from the ship, which stayed busy and sometimes rushed, but went very smoothly and steadily. It felt great to help these workers who are time deprived have an easier time to get what they needed.

On level 2, Joe, Jared, Ben, Dan, and Julia helped with the packages the workers wanted to bring home. They would help organize them so that the transaction would be easy, smooth, and safe for the worker’s possessions. The workers were left happier because this way of shipping would be cheaper than shipping the packages all the way to where they live, and they felt their possessions were going to be handled safer and better.

On level 3, Laura worked in the MoneyGram where she would help people send money home to their families, either for cash pick up or directly to bank accounts. Laura sent up to $5000 in her largest transaction and sometimes smaller amounts like $100. She sent money to many different countries, including the Philippines, Croatia, Jamaica, and Indonesia. This job was stressful when the difference would keep changing between different currencies and it would get confusing at times, but they did an amazing job, regardless.

After the cruise ship left with its workers and new vacationers our group headed to the showers which are always fantastic. :) Then we went to an ice cream shop and enjoyed some ice cream on this very warm and sunny day, and it really hit the spot as we ended our hard work of the week.

For dinner, we had Indian food which was absolutely delicious. We loved trying all the different ethnic foods this week as some comfort zones were broken through and new discoveries were found.

Finally, tonight, we are starting to pack for the drive home. We are sad to leave, but very ready to sleep in our own beds.

Hope everyone back home had a great day as well! We’re going to get as much sleep in tonight as possible so we can be ready for the long drive tomorrow.

Love and miss you all!

- Leah Douma -

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thursday - Group 2

Hello from Boston!

This is Group 2 again sharing a little about our day. Honestly, there are way too many stories to share and not enough time to type them all. However, here goes today's events:

In the morning we started off the day like normal where we arrived again at the Salvation Army Children’s Learning Center. Today, like on Tuesday, we split into groups of guys and girls. This time the girls got to go with the kids to the pool while the guys stayed behind and worked on the VBS lesson for tomorrow. At the pool there was a lot of swimming under water, seeing how many diving rings each person could get, and swimming all around. For the VBS, the guys found their creative side and made posters for the skit sharing the major themes about what we would like the kids to take away.

After we left the Learning Center we drove into Downtown Boston with a task called Meet-a-Need. For this task we split into two teams and were each given $10 to go and find someone who had a need we could help them meet. Team A consisted of Jamie, Braden, Jake, Nick, and Chloe, while Team B consisted of Daryl, Beth, Micah, Andrew, and Kendra.

Team A walked down to the Boston Commons trying to find someone to help there. After a couple tries they came across a guy and a girl playing their guitars. When they spent several minutes with the guitar players they told their stories about how they train hopped from the West side of the country. (One was from California and the other was from Nevada). During the telling of their stories the group found out that their greatest need was socks. “Socks are gold.” So team A went and found a CVS to buy them socks and water. Upon bringing back the socks and water the guitarists actully ended up giving one of the waters over to another guy who was also in need. This guy was so amazed that someone in great need themselves would be so willing to help out another in need.

While that was happening with team A, team B found a homeless man named Mike sitting on the streets outside of a pizza shop. Mike shared with us some of his story. We found out that in the winter he travels to Los Angeles and is a homeless man on the streets there. He always comes back though because Boston is where he was born and raised. He informed us that a local church ends up paying for his way to get to Los Angeles each year. When asked what kind of needs we could help him out with, all his response was, was a large cheese pizza for his meal. The team entered the pizza shop and ordered a large cheese pizza and a bottle of water. He was very grateful for the help he received and knowing that he had a meal for tonight.

By the time the activity got done team B was going to pick up team A at their location in order to save time and hopefully get in a quick shower before dinner and Worship night. Well, due to a wrong turn, despite trying to follow the GPS, team B ended up going through a tunnel and over a bridge in Downtown Rush Hour Boston traffic 30 minutes in the opposite direction. By the time team B picked up team A it was an hour later. So much for a quick pick up. Needless to say, the showers may not have happened, but we did make it back in time for dinner and Worship night.

What a great day serving, a beautiful night worshipping with the other CSM group, debriefing with our big Niekerk team, and hanging out with each other!

Even though patience got tested today, God gave us a wonderful adventure and a marvelous day!

Good night friends and family! Thanks for all the prayers and support!



This morning we went to the New England Seafarers Mission. When we got there we were shown around the 3 levels/parts of the mission and given a little intro about it by Steve, who has been there for 20 years.   The goal of this mission is to provide anything from snacks, drinks, mail/packages, sending money back home, a simple smile, etc. for the Seafarers on the cruise ships that come in. Many of these Seafarers work on these ships because it is the best option they have to support their family. They are on a 9 month contract, work up to 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and some of them get 4 hours off (when they get off the ship). This job leaves most of them drained emotionally, physically, and/or forgotten.

The mission has 3 levels... the first level is a store with a variety of choices of food, drinks, toiletries, phone accessories, souvenirs, etc. The second level is where the packaging action takes place. Seafarers have stuff sent to the Mission because it is WAY cheaper instead of sending it to their home town. Most of them will purchase a suit case and put all their goodies in there for easier transportation. The third level is where the Money Gram is located. This gives them an opportunity to send their money/paychecks straight home to their families. When the ship arrives, the Seafarers have about 4 hours to get/see/do what they need.

After the intro, we got split up into 3 different groups for the 3 levels where we learned how it all individually worked and got them ready for tomorrow when the ship comes in. Cheryl, Laura #2, Leah, and Livi were in the store. We stocked & organized shelves, priced items, learned how to use the register, and cleaned up the store. Joe, Jared, Ben, and Dan were in the packaging area where they labeled and organized the packages people had shipped there. Laura #1 was in the Money Gram room where she learned how to send large sums of money all over the world.

After the mission, we headed to The Commons of Boston. When we arrived we split up into 2 groups, we were each given $2 per person and told to go find something to eat for lunch, feed at least one other person with that money outside your group, and find some information about how a homeless person may go about finding food, shelter, a shower, clothes etc.

Group A was Joe, Laura #1, Leah, Ben, and Laura #2. We came together and decided to go get a loaf of bread, peanut butter, and some pretzels. As we headed back to the park area we came by a table that was selling water for $1, we had 70 cents left and they said that was fine. We went and found a bench under the shade, sat down, made our sandwiches and ended up with 4 left over sandwiches. After eating our own, we walked around The Commons, handed out our leftover food, visited some churches, and gathered information about the resources a homeless person might use.

Group B was Cheryl, Jared, Dan, and Livi. They decided to get a pizza and a couple apples. After they ate, they went about to try and find someone to share their food with but couldn’t find anyone who would bite on the offer of FREE pizza... crazy to think about in my opinion. They also had a little care package along to give away and were successful in that regard. After that, they went to a couple churches and gathered information about the area and resources.

At night, we had dinner, shortly after dinner we had a time of worship, and then a debrief session with group 2. While we debriefed about the day, we also reflected over the whole week which was neat to think back on and see God at work day in and day out.

Today was mainly a prep day for tomorrow when we return to the Mission and help actual Seafarers coming off the ships and get a small feel for what it may feel like to be homeless on the streets of Boston! Thank you for all the prayers and support, everyone. I think I speak for everyone when I say we couldn’t and wouldn’t want to do it without you! :)

Blessings & love- Group 1

Laura #2

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Day 2 Group 2 Update

Group two update (Daryl, Braden, Jamie, Beth, Kendra, Chloe, Andrew, Micah, Nic, and Jake):

Today was round two of helping out at the Children Learning Center with Salvation Army. The guys and girls of our group spilt up as there were multiple places where help was needed. The guys joined the kids at the pool for most of the day; while the girls helped work on the plans for the VBS starting tomorrow. Since time is limited we are trying to squeeze multiple lessons into a few days while teaching the kids important ideas about Jesus. Thursday will be the opposite as the girls hopefully will go swimming while the guys help with the lesson. 

As evening came we headed off to the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen. We helped serve a delicious Italian meal of chicken, pasta, rice, salad, corn, and soup.  All the food was donated by a generous restaurant. The Soup Kitchen runs every Tuesday for the community.  This soup kitchen is quite new, being only a year and a half old and is thriving. We served about 40ish meals and they receive everything by donation. When the night wrapped up Sandra, got to share her Cinderella story. What an amazing, yet hard, journey God has taken her on. Please pray for her and her husband as they continue this beautiful journey God has placed them on. She started just with a few people and a passion to help those in need. 

For supper we enjoyed a delightful Mexican meal and walked around a small portion of Harvard Square (Daryl may or may not have forgotten where we parked the car).

Signing off for the night! Sleep well friends and family. Thanks for the prayers already. 

Beth, Kendra, and Jamie

Team 1 day 2 wrap up

We went to 2 soup kitchens today. One called “East Boston Soup Kitchen “ was very close to the people they served, but it was only opened once a week on Tuesday. Then we went to a different soup kitchen called “My Brothers Table”, it was opened everyday a week and feed about 120 to 130 people today, but sometimes up to 300. The workers were all nice, the workers at “East Boston Soup Kitchen” were all very happy to be there and had very close relationship’s with all people they served. The workers at “My Brothers Table” were all very nice to us, they told us what to do and they showed us how to do it, but they weren’t as close to the people as at the “East Boston Soup Kitchen”. There were 2 fights that broke out at “My Brothers Table” one happened because the families didn’t get along, the other one happened because we wouldn’t give him more food. Jared, Joe, and Dan were doing dishes and they throw away over half the food we gave out to the people because they just didn’t eat it. It’s been groovy guys. Also we don’t know what team 2 did and we don’t care.
—Daniel DeKam

Day 1 Wrap Up

the group has an awesome day one! It was an early morning this morning, so I did not get a chance to update the blog last night... here are a few highlights:
Serving group 1 went to a ministry called Community Servings. Here we prepped and packed food for over 2000 clients with some type of chronic illness.
Serving group 2 worked at a children’s ministry. They were able to play and sing and build relationships with about 13 kiddos with whom they will be doing a type of VBS with the remainder of the week.
Each group went on a driving prayer tour of the city in the afternoon. We were able to learn about some of the issues faced by Boston and other large cities around our country and world. This was also a great way to really get to see the city.
For supper last night the students got to experience either Greek or Vietnamese food. It seemed to receive good reviews from everyone.
We are looking forward to another great day!!

Thank you for your continued prayers!
Laura J Bosch