What a great weekend of serving those in need, experiencing poverty, great community and more with the 2016 Buffalo Mission Trip the weekend of January 15-17!
25 senior high youth and 5 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.
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…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 stocked shelves. We cleaned the whole church, which resides in an old storefront, that before the church began was a clandestine marijuana growing factory.
After taking public transportation back to Holy Trinity, we then took turns preparing and cleaning up not only for lunch, but other meals as well for the whole group, one big part of how we cared for each other during the weekend living in “intentional community” with each other.
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 (yep…all 29 of us walking to the store!), and then after dinner we set about cooking and preparing the burritos for our journey the next day. Devotions that night flowed around our experiences that day, and were really heartfelt and genuine.
Sunday – our final day – started out with worship with the people of our weekend home at Holy Trinity.
That afternoon, we ventured downtown to deliver our burritos to the hungry and homeless. We first stopped at “Homeless Jesus”, a statue of a homeless, covered figure on a park bench, found next to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We paused to pray, and leave a few hats and scarves clipped to a latticework for anyone in need to come and take. Our large group then split up, one going up Delaware Ave., the other up Ellicott and Oak streets. Along the way, we passed out burritos, water, and hats and gloves to those in need. WE even stopped at the Buffalo City Mission to give some food there.
And by the way, it was very cold, and SNOWY! We were out and about that afternoon in 8 inches of lake effect snow that blasted us on our walk, making us work 3 times harder to get through the snow. And we still found the hungry, the homeless, and those in need. We even jumped in to help a mother and her small child across the street with her luggage and stroller after they became stuck in the snow in the middle of the street.
It was a cold journey, and it took a while to get through, but our mission carried us through and we cared for those in need.
Upon our return to Holy Trinity, hot cocoa – and our families with a hot potluck dinner – awaited, angels in our midst! The weekend wrapped up with one last devotion reflecting on our experiences. 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, Holy Trinity which graciously welcomed us “home” for the weekend, 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!