Here is a series of Reflections from some of the team members as the trip came to a close:
(This was written last weekend as the team made their way home. We are happy to report that the team is home safe and sound!)
After a long, eye-opening, and emotionally tolling week, Team Oakland has finally finished our trip! During the Oakland part of the trip, we learned extensively about many of the social injustices occurring in the Oakland area. We were immersed into the urban Oakland culture and witnessed the injustices of sex trafficking/prostitution, the healthcare system, and immigration. It was heartbreaking for me to watch the documentary about the young girls who are brought into the abusive prostitution cycle, and then go out that night to witness the solicitations occurring right down the block from our hosts’ house. This experience, along with others involving learning about Highland Hospital of Oakland and the immigration experiences of those traveling to the United States from Mexico and Central America, were very intense learning experiences for the whole team. We were also blessed to hear the testimonies from Shantell and Orlando, who talked about their different experiences immigrating to the United States, and the testimony from our hosts’ close friend, Than, about his experience with prejudice, drugs, violence, and his eventual conversion to Christianity.
After travelling back to Redding, our team was challenged to apply what we learned in Oakland, to our home setting in Redding. Here, we were given the opportunity to shadow some of our fellow Shasta College students, and were also educated about many of the programs available for students and the community. We were also able to learn about a program in Redding, called ESYAC, which helps children whose lives are affected by parental substance abuse, homelessness, and unemployment. We were able to help Joanie Griffin, the founder of ESYAC, for an afternoon, as she talked about her organization and some of the mentoring and tutoring options available. As a team, we also went out into the Redding community to witness some of the transiency and drug and alcohol abuse that is affecting the downtown area. After these experiences, we, as a team, felt convicted to help our community through volunteering our time to help as many adults and children, both in the Redding area and in our own hometowns.
This short-term service experience was unquestionably life-changing, and we look forward to working in the community in order to end some of the injustices we were introduced to during this trip, as well as to spread the Word of God to as many people as possible.
Thank you, everyone, for your love and support!
The exposure to poverty, social injustices and oppression that we
experienced in Oakland broke each one of us. As a result, I believe
that our team returned to Redding with changed hearts. We recognize
that we are no different than our neighbor. We could just as easy have
been given the same set of circumstances as the prostitute on
International Boulevard or the refugee child, Shantel, or the former
gang banger, Tane. We are no more deserving of our fortune. It is
with this new heart that we are able to see our neighbor as Jesus sees
them and love them as he loves them.
Upon returning, we learned of the needs, and opportunities to serve,
in our own community. My experience with WorldSERVE has brought me to
a place in which my heart is driven to continue to reach out to those
that are hurting all around me.
As I sat at lunch sharing warm fuzziness with my teammates I looked at
Nikki’s world serve shirt and read the words “come and see.” Let me
tell you, we have come back to redding and we have seen. The past few
days have brought our team to parts of redding that we have never seen
before. Personally I’ve spent four hours on the bus traveling on
routes through parts of redding I did not know existed. Our eyes are
not the only thing that have been opened, each of us have had our
hearts opens as well. It is amazing how much hurt we have seen around
our own town, but we have been able to have so much good conversation
about what we can do about it and ways that we want to keep each other
Each individual member of the team has grown so
much, make sure to follow up with them, but God has wrecked some of
our lives, in a good way. We have spent lots of time going over ways that we anticipate this experience playing out, for example, one of the team members has asked for accountability in sharing the things they learned with their family. Each of us asked for accountability in some sort of change that we intend into our daily lives. I think I can speak for all of when I say that it is so good that a portion of our trip was in Redding, because we got to explore some of the opportunities that we have to serve “the least of these” here in our own town. What an amazing trip, to God be the glory!