This is Dana Brandt from the Nuggets crew blogging about our adventures today. My first full day of Youthworks service began at 5:45 AM; my crew had breakfast prep. Even with an early start, though, we still managed do God’s work with our (slightly exhausted) hands.
Our work site for the day was a place called Denver Metro Ministries. It is run by the passionate and slightly silly Pastor John. Denver Metro Ministries contributes to the community in two ways; they deliver food to families in need and teach “Sidewalk Sunday School” to children living in low income housing. And all of it is done from a vehicle most similar to a food truck. As Pastor John liked to say, “My church is the only one that can go 65 miles an hour down the highway.”
First, we packed grocery bags with various canned and packaged foods and loaded them into the truck. Based on our estimates, we packed about 125 bags of food to hand out this week. After we finished packing, Pastor John decided to surprise us by spraying our group with a water gun. Ayoka tried to use me as a shield, so I retaliated by picking up a different water gun and spraying her. Soon, a full-blown water war erupted. Doors, tables, and the food truck were used as shields, and even our two adult leaders got somewhat soaked. The battle finally ended when Pastor John poured the remainder of the water onto poor Ayoka.
After a quick lunch break, we drove to the site where we would be distributing both food and the word of God. The truck was opened, speakers were set up, and the children of the neighborhood were called to Sidewalk Sunday School. The kids were hesitant at first,not wanting to be the first ones, but by the end we had 24 kids worshipping with us. We sang typical Sunday School songs (ones we even sing back home at Zumbro), we prayed, and there even was some Muppet-quality puppeteering on the part of Pastor John’s team of volunteers. But the most exciting part was definitely the boys vs. girls jalepeño eating contest. One of the kids from the neighborhood volunteeered to represent the boys, but none of the girls stepped up. Determined not to let the boys win by default, Catherine fearless volunteered. Tears were shed (Catherine’s) and jalepeños were eaten (both), but only one competitor could devour the entire roasted jalepeño. The little boy was crowned the victor.
Even more kids and their families showed up once we began handing out food. We grilled up some hot dogs and gave them the grocery bags we packed, and many of them came back for seconds. As it turns out, 31.4% of Denver’s population is Hispanic/Latino, so I even got to use some Spanish while serving food. It was quite the humbling experience. These endured struggles that I can’t even imagine, and to be able to help them both physically and spiritually was incredibly rewarding. Like Pastor John said, “Every bag you touch, you’re touching someone’s life.”
Back at the church we’re staying at, our group had dinner in a nearby park. After dinner, we decided to visit the nearby Columbine Memorial. While the tragic Columbine shooting happened about a month before I was born, it still is an event that impacts our safety procedures at my school today. The memorial was in a beautiful location where you could see the mountains, and all the words were very impactful. It definitely was a powerful experience.