Saturday, July 18th-Proclaim Justice Day.
Today was our last full at the Gathering and we all felt, every last one of us, like this picture right here:
We were tired. Long nights, short sleep, busy days. Our bodies felt it (especially this old body). But we got up to start our Proclaim Justice Day with our bright orange shirts. It didn’t help that the hotel breakfast moved from 6 am to 7 am, so we couldn’t access breakfast before our 7 am pick-up, but we tried to make due with some of our room snacks. We got to Detroit and went to the Riverwalk for our morning devotion.
We got inside as quickly as we could because we all knew that it was going to be super hot and humid. We had our water bottles, our sunscreen, and our work gloves for being outside at our service project. But first, we went into the Proclaim Community space to do the Walk for Water which we couldn’t do yesterday. This walk simulates, at a tenth of the distance, what a woman in Africa walks, on average, every day to get water for her family.
We carried 5 gallons of water (40 pounds of weight) and each container had a color on it which corresponded to who we were. I was a nine-year old boy. Along the way you stopped to read facts, see if you have a disease, encounter obstacles like uneven ground, an injury, or more. I got worms while others got malaria and still others, diarrhea, which kills more people in Africa than AIDS.
The Walk for Water is a physical and tangible experience that puts a real world problem into perspective. After we got done with our walk, those who hadn’t donated contributed to the campaign. A couple is going to match every dollar donated up to $500,000, or $1 million total. There is even a Synod competition. The Gathering had raised over $300,000 as of tonight!
We headed out to Hart Plaza to gather for our launch for our Proclaim Justice servant project. We were Launch B, Bus 64. Due to the complexity of the launches, there is a wait. We found a shady spot after a bit and chilled out and there was even some dancing to the DJ who was playing music and dismissing buses. Finally, we got to meet our Servant Companion, Ashley, and get ready to head out. As we waited, we had something unfortunate happen. Kayla got sick. We took her to first aid and it was determined that, because of the heat, she shouldn’t go out on the service project with us. Wendy took her back to the hotel to rest and get better, while we headed out for our service project.
We arrive at a neighborhood to be part of the Focus: Hope “Keep it 100” project. The organization, Focus: Hope, is trying to clean up and revitalize 100 blocks in Detroit. We arrived and saw many other groups there and we began to clean out an abandoned lot that they hope to turn into a small park. We pulled weeds, took out boards and trash, and tried to get a good start on getting this lot cleaned up. Our kids worked very hard and took the necessary breaks but never quit working for long. They did more work than any of the other groups. I spent a few good hours hauling stuff in a wheelbarrow. Neighborhood residents were out as well to greet us, thank us, and some even pitched in! Nik even helped an old lady across the street! In the end, they were amazed at our progress and said that is made a huge difference in that they could bring some equipment in now to get rid of the rest of the weeds and hopefully make this area into a basketball court for the neighborhood. Ashely said that our bus was her best bus of the three days. The next three pictures is a before, after, and then the group shot of our bus.
Here is a before picture
Here is an after picture.
We were hot, sweaty, dirty, and tired. There is no better feeling that getting back on that air conditioned bus! We got dropped off at Cobo and made our way back to Hart Plaza looking for ice cream from some of the food trucks that were there. Though we didn’t find ice cream, many kids got slushes and many also got food for dinner. We heard from Wendy that Kayla was feeling a lot better and was going to join us for our last Mass Gathering at Ford Field!
We got to our section and enjoyed some great music while we also changed into some fresh clothes. We had our last Dance Move of the Day as well. Cumberland joined us again as we heard music from Rachel Kurtz, Trip Lee and speeches by Kyle Larson, Rozella White, and Veronika Scott. Marian Wright Edelman, a civil rights pioneer and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, also spoke. Though she had a lot of wonderful things to say, she bombarded the audience with facts and numbers and went very long. Because of this, our headlining band Skillet went on much later than expected. They rocked and the kids were having a great time but then they made an announcement that we had to leave for our shuttles, even though they were still playing. So we did.
One of the reasons that they wanted us to get going was that rain was coming in. We got sprinkled on a bit but it wasn’t too bad. The crowd moved quickly to the buses and we made it back at a much more reasonable time than the night before.
Tomorrow we have worship in the morning that includes Holy Communion. You can join us at 8:30 am at www.elca.org/gathering. I will try to blog on the bus on our way back but it might not be able to be sent until I get back to Boyceville. Thanks for following us on our Detroit adventure and for supporting us so much with your prayers and generosity. Remember, because Jesus loves us and is with us, we can Rise Up Together!