What a great weekend of serving those in need, BEING served at the same time, experiencing poverty, great community and more with this year’s Buffalo Mission Trip the weekend of January 16-18!
8 senior high youth and 6 adult leaders took part in this urban immersion experience in the inner city of Buffalo.
Friday evening we settled into Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, got to know each other and engaged in the beginning of our ongoing devotion and faith conversations centering around Matthew 25:34-40, and Jesus’ urging to go and serve the “least of these” within whom the disciples also are serving God.
Saturday began early with getting to Hananiah Lutheran Church on Genesee St. We – rather than take the 5-minute drive – opted for public transportation. We rode the NFTA Metrorail further downtown, and then waited for our bus transfer for what seemed like forever in minus-8 degree wind chill…thus experiencing what the urban poor without their own vehicle endure daily to get around.
At Hananiah Lutheran we served by organizing their food pantry from top to bottom. We packed food bags for clients. We cleaned the whole church, which resides in an old storefront, that before the church began was a clandestine marijuana growing factory. We organized their food pantry paperwork. All the while, we witnessed people coming and going, checking in and saying hello like good neighbors…which they were.
We were then surprised – and humbled – by a fantastic lunch that they ordered for us! We then realized who was really being served…us!
After taking public transportation back to Holy Trinity, we then relocated to Parkside Lutheran Church for our next phase of our trip.
Marcia Brown came to guide us through what’s known as the “Burrito Project”, which involves preparing burritos and then taking them to hand out to the homeless on the streets.
We walked to get the supplies we needed, and then after dinner we set about cooking and preparing the burritos for our journey the next day. Devotions that night were organic and flowed around our Bible focus and our experiences that day, and were really heartfelt and genuine.
Sunday – our final day – started out with worship with the people of Parkside. We heard a message from their intern on following our call. Really topical considering our trip.
That afternoon, we ventured downtown for a 2.6 mile loop that took us to deliver our burritos to the homeless. Some were walking the streets. Some were desperately clinging to warmth under whatever they could get. These homeless resided under the overpasses of the I-190 and the Kensington Expressway (Route 33). It was a cold, drizzly afternoon, but our mission carried us through and we fed those in need.
Our trip was then suddenly over. Our eyes were opened. Our hearts broken and simultaneously filled. We were humbled. Our community was tighter. And our challenge: don’t let this experience end. Keep in prayer about where God may be leading us to continue this fight for social justice for all.
We are thankful for those that supported our journey: parents and family back home, the churches that opened their doors for us, for Hananiah and their ministry, for Marcia Brown and the Burrito Project and their ministry…and those we walked alongside, who showed us Jesus in unexpected ways!