Chi Rho Mission Trip, Work Day #4

Today our only work was an evening shift in the community garden, but the temperature hit 100° — so the rest of the day we found ways to hang out in air conditioning. First we ate breakfast, and then headed out for a morning matinee showing of Spider Man. It was a really fun movie to watch as a group!

After the movie, we headed to a different location of the pizza restaurant we visited earlier this week (it was so good that everyone wanted to go again). The pizza was delicious and gave us the energy to run by one of the outlet stores. After we mostly window shopped, we went by the church for a quick nap during the hottest part of the day.

At the community garden, we broke into groups. One group dug potatoes, and the other group picked kale. Then, after a water break, the kale group started weeding the melon patch. By the time we were done, all the weeds were gone and we could see all the melons that had been hiding underneath. 

Before we left the garden, we spent some time bringing in today’s harvest and talking with the garden organizers about how they got started. We’re feeling rather inspired after seeing how much a church and wider community can do to provide healthy food for their neighbors!

Tonight we’re showering, cleaning, and packing for tomorrow’s drive home. It has been a truly great mission trip and we’re grateful  for all we’ve seen, experienced, learned, and done!


Chi Rho Mission Trip, Work Day #3

Today the first part of our day was free, so we slept in a little. Then we had breakfast at a fancy donut place.  It was excellent, with very creative donut flavors. 

After breakfast, we spent a couple of hours at the Des Moines Art Center. This free museum is tucked away in a neighborhood and hosts a delightfully broad collection of modern and contemporary art. We had a good time examining and pondering pieces from artists including Picasso and Warhol.

After the museum, we went to Joppa – an organization that seeks to build relationships with individuals experiencing homelessness so that they can gradually move into temporary and then permanent housing. Joppa’ work falls into five categories: outreach, housing, after care, education, and advocacy. They are currently working on developing a new housing area that will contain 50 tiny houses — this will be a neighborhood of temporary housing for homeless individuals who are transitioning to permanent housing.

While at Joppa, we packed toiletry bags in preparation for their annual homeless census. Once we’d packed about 100 bags, we wrote special notes of encouragement for each person who will receive a bag. Then we re-packed dog food and cat food into smaller bags so that it can be taken to people living outdoors who have pets with them.

After Joppa, we drove to Highland Park Christian Church, another Disciples church in Des Moines. There we helped serve food at their weekly community meal. This meal gives mostly older residents the opportunity to socialize, get out of the heat (many have no air conditioning), and eat a healthy meal. We had fun and also got to eat the meal before taking a tour of the church with Rev. Kara Courtney.

Now we’re chilling out at WDMCC before showers and bedtime. Looking forward to tomorrow: our final day of work. 

Chi Rho Mission Trip, Work Day #2

Today we spent the morning doing two special tours. First we toured First Christian Church of Des Moines, a Disciples congregation that sits on the edge of Drake University. Rev. Ryan Arnold was our guide, and he shared the history of the congregation and the building. Because of its size and location, the sanctuary has welcomed many major speakers through the years, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was awesome to be in that space with its historic pulpit and Tiffany stained glass!

After the church tour, Ryan handed us off to his friend Tony — the Director of Inclusion at Drake University. He took us on a tour of campus that helped everyone see what it’s like to live and study here in Des Moines.  The campus is beautiful, and it was interesting to see all the organizations that students have created for themselves. Plus, this was a great way to introduce our students to one of our historically Disciples-related universities!

We ate lunch at a cool pizza place where everyone could get their own specialty personal sized pizzas, and followed lunch up with frozen yogurt.  Delicious!  Then we went back to WDMCC to rest, cool off, and hang out before heading out to work.

This evening we went to St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church to work in their community garden. We dug potatoes until it started raining. Then we helped bag the potatoes and onions that had been harvested throughout the afternoon/evening. All the produce from this garden goes directly to organizations like DMARC so that hungry families can have fresh and healthy (organic) produce.  What a great way for a church to use their space and labor for the sake of the community! 

After our work, we picked up dinner and brought it back to WDMCC. Now we’re showering and getting ready for bed so we can be fresh for another day!

Chi Rho Mission Trip, Work Day #1

Today we got up, ate breakfast, made sack lunches, and then headed out to the Central Iowa Shelter. Along with providing beds and other services, this homeless shelter serves hot meals to a large number of people daily, and we were the serving crew for lunch. 

After donning gloves and hair nets, we were giving various jobs on the serving line: drinks, desserts, salads, corn, macaroni & cheese, and ham/chicken. When it was time to begin serving, we started dishing out the food and worked steadily for over an hour. As people came through the line, we were able to greet and talk with the guests. Our kids felt everything from nervousness to joy to sadness as they worked, and they did an excellent job of embodying hospitality as they served the meal.

After lunch was over, we ate our lunches and did a bit of debrief. Then we moved across the street to DMARC – the Des Moines Area Religious Council, which is a good bank that serves/operates 13 food pantries and 3 mobile food pantries in the Des Moines metro area.

DMARC brings people from all religions and faiths together for the sake of helping people in need. They serve 16,000 to 19,000 people each month, providing healthy food to people who need assistance (for any reason). 

We started the afternoon by sorting three huge bins of food donations. Expired food had to be set aside, and good food was sorted into labeled boxes so that it could later be delivered to pantries. After we finished sorting the bins, we sorted donations for a special food program for elderly Des Moines residents.

The kids worked hard and we finished both projects. After we were done, we returned to the church to play and/or rest. Then we had a delightful dinner at a local Mexican restaurant that was recommended by our new friends at DMARC. Now we are showering, doing devotions/debrief, and then heading to bed. Tomorrow will be another full day!

Chi Rho Mission 2017 – The Road to Des Moines

Today our band of five middle school students and three adults loaded up the rental van and headed to Des Moines, Iowa for our Chi Rho Mission Trip. It was an easy drive made even smoother because the van is comfy and everyone is in good spirits.

We arrived at our home for the week (West Des Moines Christian Church), got a tour, and found our spot in their awesome downstairs youth area. Then we unloaded the van and made ourselves at home.

For dinner we headed into downtown Des Moines for a bite at Zombie Burger.  The food was wonderful, the milkshakes to die for, and the decor fit the name perfectly. Definitely a fun spot! 

After dinner we came back to the church, took showers, hung out, and headed to bed early. It’s time for rest before our first day of work! More pictures and stories will come tomorrow. Good night!