It was an emotionally moving day for many in our group. A couple of youth have asked to share a few reflections from our last day in Jackson, MS.
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When I got up this morning I was ready to do any work that God was calling me to do. I thought that I was going to be doing more yard work like we did the previous day. But God had a different idea for me. When we arrived at the church we were told there were some spots around the church grounds that people (homeless) were using as a bathroom, and that it needed to be cleaned up. I volunteered because i thought i could handle getting my hands dirty, and i thought i could handle the smell. But boy was i wrong. I had no idea that these places that were being used as a bathroom were also places were people were sleeping and living.
The first spot we (Kendra B, Haley, Naomi, and myself) cleaned was a stairwell leading to the basement of the church. This was the major spot where people were relieving themselves. In the stairwell were also blankets, clothing and news papers. The smell was like the smell of a hog house, i couldn't believe that anyone would go down there, but we did. The next place we were told to clean out was a covered stairway leading into the church.
What we did next has forever changed my outlook on life, and the lives of the people around me.
On the stairway we found scary things like condom wrappers and rusty nails, but we also found clothing and unopened cans of food, basic things that people need to live. It was so shocking to realize that someone(s) was living here, and slept on dirty wet cardboard every night, and had to wear dirty clothing. But was the worst thing we found were Baptist devotional guide to life, and a workbook on how to read the Bible. So what was so sad was that this person was trying to have a relationship with God and Jesus, and yet they were living like they were. And what made me feel even worse was we were taking it all away. We were just scooping it up and throwing it away.
I couldnt stop thinking "what was this person going to do when they came back and realized it was all gone?" I cant write anything to make anyone realize how emotionally draining what we did was. I just wanted to break down and cry. I just pray that whomever was living there, has moved onto a safer and cleaner place. And hopefully by us cleaning up there 'home' they went to a homeless shelter or somewhere with a warm dry bed, and a warm meal.
Going into this trip I didn't expect what I am feeling. I ignorantly expected it to be just another work trip. But through the sights I've seen, the people I've met, and the conversations I've had my thoughts are not what I went into this wanting to feel. But life isn't always what you want is it?
Throughout my christian education since I was young I have always been told that it is okay to doubt your faith, but I have never really liked that. Although I really wouldn't call what I am feeling doubt, I would call it questioning. I'm questioning if my faith is enough. I'm questioning if I'm doing enough to help.
The people here are amazing. The sights here are amazing. The south looks like Iowa but doesn't feel like Iowa. When the group took a walk throughout the neighborhood people would stop what they were doing just to say hi to us and to have a genuine conversation with us. After spending 4 days in Jackson I know I have had an experience that I will never forget. I will never forget the people, the sights, the thoughts, or the God that sent me here.
~ Kendra G.