Today was our first day of work here in Saint Louis, and we spent our time serving with the good people at Lydia’s House, a local organization that provides up to two years of safe transitional housing for women and children who are survivors of domestic abuse. Our work time was spent cleaning the community/administrative building and organizing donations in their warehouse area, but the most important part of the workday was spent learning about the signs and realities of domestic abuse. Hearing personal stories of survival helped us to understand how to help ourselves, our friends, and our family members — and gave us a deeper understanding of how hard it can be for someone to leave their abuser. We learned how to be compassionate.
After work we headed back to the church and took a good nap! Then we took showers at a local campground (it’s a great facility) and returned to the church in time to share in a wonderful meal provided by members of the congregation. Pasta, salad, bread, brownies…it was truly a communion feast.
After dinner, the church members led us in a game that helped us to begin thinking about the various circumstances, struggles and privileges that either help someone to advance in life or make it difficult, if not impossible, to succeed. It was uncomfortable to realize how much privilege many of us experience, and we had a very helpful conversation in which we started to parse out the factors that can make it so difficult to break out of poverty. While some of us get ahead, every day others fall behind. This conversation and game will help to frame the rest of our week, as well as our work as church when we return home.
Tonight we are spending some time hanging out and playing games before we hit the sack and rest up for another day of work, play, learning, and relationship. We’ll check in again tomorrow!