Sorry about the delayed posts. We have found it very difficult to find Internet in Philly. Right now we are in a coffee shop that we found after 20mins of wandering around North Philadelphia.
We woke up at 6am and drove another 9 hours from Cincinnati to Philadelphia. We crossed into West Virginia on the way, and it was like a different world. Some mining towns and mountains. Very different than Southern Illinois. We finally arrived at Unity Church in North Philly around 6pm. We are staying a room full of bunk beds that our missions team uses to house the visiting crews.
We had dinner and got an orientation from Trish our coordinator. After that we headed to be to prepare for our busy week.
We woke up at 8 for a light breakfast and went to church at Cornerstone community church. What a great place to worship! The church was so alive and welcoming. It was amazing to see how these people who had so little were so thankful for what they had. We all felt so welcome and there was a real sense of community, and it was something that I wish many churches could see.
After lunch and a quick nap we had a planning meeting for our football camp. We are going to be using a notorious park in the area referred to as "Needle Park" because of the prevalence of drug use in the park. So for our service project for Monday we are going to be cleaning up Needle Park to get it ready for 50+ kids that are going to be coming to our camp.
That night we had a cookout for the homeless in the area. It was an incredible turnout. We served over 200 hotdogs, and fellowshiped with the people of North Philly. It was an incredible experience. We met many people who had simply made a few bad decisions in their lives, and ended up on the streets. It was a great opportunity to love these hurting and needy people and to show them the love of Christ. We prayed with many of the visitors and invited them back on Wednesday night for a coffee shop we will be hosting. I look forward to seeing many of the people again.
Many of the hotdogs got eaten before we got to eat them, so a large group of us went to get some famous Philly Cheesesteaks. Scott, Grant, and I shared a 2 footer. It was awesome. We went to bed fat and happy.
This morning we went to Needles Park to clean up. The park really lived up to its name. I was amazed at how many syringes we actually found, around 50 overall. This was a park with a playground and a library meant for the children in the community, but it is being used by drug dealers and users. There was enough drug paraphernalia to fill a trash bag. We spend the morning cleaning up the park, and it was encouraging to see how much of a difference we could make in a morning. It makes me wonder what kind of impact we can have by the end of the week.
As of this writing we are preparing to return to Needles Park for our football camp. The camp with be around 2 hours of fun, football related activities, along with testimonies and prizes for the kids.
I will write again as soon as possible. Keep us in your prayers as we continue to try to make a lasting impact on this community.