Monday, June 9, 2014

Heal all that is broken

What an exciting and crazy first few days it has been! After arriving in Philadelphia on late Wednesday night, we packed up and drove to Atlantic City where we stayed at the Long Term Recovery Group Center for housing relief after Hurricane Sandy.  Spent most of the first evening exploring the Monopoly inspiring streets and the boardwalk along the clustered shops and casinos.  Probably the best place to a pop a sqaut and people watch that I have ever experienced.

After we had all been orientated, Friday we took a quick practice ride along the boardwalk down to Lucy the Elephant.  Apparently she's like the worlds biggest elephant or something.  She's not real.  Just a giant tour/room/thing that you can climb up into.  But the fun didn't end with Lucy.  The entire rest of the day, we worked at one of the local housing sites helping them finish a house for a single dad who lost his house.  As a group, we accomplished putting up sheet rock in some rooms, spackling and sanding in others, and even started painting the rooms for him by the end of the day.  My lungs were littered with dust and debris but it was all so worth it.

Saturday was officially the first day of the trip.  We were headed to Tabernacle, NJ but first things first, we had to bike to the beach for the traditional back tire dip into the ocean and our kick off devotion and prayer.  We got some crazy awesome sunrise pictures and then we spun our pedals and got our tires off the sand and onto the asphalt headed for Tabernacle. You never quite realize what a 3,600 mile journey is gonna feel like until you sit your butt on the seat and realize what you are about to trek out on.

We slowly grew acquainted with our new family, learning their strengths and weaknesses, their pace and style, their quirks.  It is always the most exciting part of the trip making a new bond with so many people along the way that you can friends for years after from all across the country...and even the world.  We have one guy on our trip who is from Scotland, but lives in Australia, and I'll just say it, the guy cracks me up.  He is awesome.

The first ride was a little exciting.  Multiple groups ended up getting lost and I ended up doing 10 more miles than I should have.  But, hey, what's a 70 mile day to kick off the start of the bike adventure.  The Lord of Life Lutheran Church just outside of Tabernacle overwhelmed us with love and hospitality.  We were immediately met with philly cheesesteaks upon our arrival, and then on top of that we were told later we would be driven to a member's house and have a bonfire with s'mores and a huge BBQ!  Never have we had so much amazing food on this trip before.  I thought I would lose weight on this trip... Jokes on me.

I slept on a bean bag that night.  Oh man, it was great.  You wouldn't think it would be but I have loved curling up in small spaces and letting my feet dangle over the edge ever since my grandma's green swivel chair when I was little.  We were able to attend church there the next day which was very different from what I am used to but it's all good.  It's fun to see different styles of churches and how they function.  We were treated to more hoagie sandwiches after church and then began our quick 30 mile ride to North Philly.

Shane Claiborne, author and activist in the Kensington area of Philadelphia, was our host for the two nights we stayed there.  The movement they have going on in the community is incredible.  They are transforming the abandoned, run down houses of the area and getting people back into affordable houses.  The community here, although urban, run down, and littered, has such a heart and character.  The kids were biking in the alley ways and coming up to us smiling and living life... not behind a game console, but really getting out and playing.  I loved it.

Today we helped them move offices a few blocks to their new location and transferred their beds and intern housing over to the old office.  Unfortunately that means we have no mattresses tonight and all our rooms are filled with cabinets, books, and tables, but we will make due.  Hopefully it won't affect our 100 mile day tomorrow too much.

To wrap it all up, the front door of Shane's organization, The Simple Way, summarized our amazing mission and prayer not only on this trip, but in life, in everything.  "Heal all the is broken.  In our hearts.  In our streets.  In our world.

Amen. "