Ahhh, what a day! First, let me just say thank you to everyone for your prayers and good thoughts (and comments). We are refreshed by them all. Please know that your comments have a little delay in them b/c of the process we have in place to protect against spam but they do get through. Now, on to the day …
So today was our first BART ride! Yes, that is BART which stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit. And were the girls ever excited – despite having to get up at 6am once again. We caught a 7:42 train to the Civic Center/UN Plaza station where we then walked (albeit a bit circuitously thanks to a directionally challenged Pastor) to our first service site, St. Anthony’s Foundation.
St. Anthony’s is a large service organization that operates in the heart of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. (This is us in the waiting area waiting for Celina who oriented us for our day. There were no photos allowed while we served.) The Tenderloin district is the area of San Francisco that the hotels and various other people would tell you to avoid. There are a great many single occupancy rooms for rent in the area (originally built after the great earthquake in 1906) that are now home to many, many people. The Tenderloin district (about 23 square blocks) houses somewhere between 20-25 thousand people. We were asked to name things that we thought of as we approached the district and we thought of things like poverty, prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, etc and Celina told us that we were right. But she also explained to us that historically speaking the city of San Francisco has turned its back upon this area so long those issues are kept within its boundaries. I’m not able to do justice to the orientation and education she gave us but suffice it to say we were all impressed. Then came the service.
We all started off bringing meals to the various people that came in. This started at about 10:30am and stopped well after we were gone. (We left the serving area about 1pm.) While we were there we and everyone else with us served about 2400-2800 people! To put that in perspective the population of Hood River is only around 6,000. And we all did different things. We brought meals to people. We bussed tables. We gave out water in the line outside (San Fran is in the midst of a heat wave). We helped dish up the food. And we ate with some of the guests that had gathered in their dining room. I think by the time we were done we were all tired, humbled and impressed. St. Anthony’s does its work well!
We then were debriefed by Celina – our guide. We talked about what we saw, what we thought, what we experienced. We also heard the amazing story of a man named Gerald who is now (prayerfully and “by God’s grace”) winning his life long battle with addiction. One of the girls on the trip will share some more of their impressions of the day in just a minute or two but I hope you hear from this just how impressive the day was. We are grateful.
Now, after a spaghetti dinner, it is on to Bible Study, some free time and then lights out. We are tired but also energized by the experience we’ve had, seen and look forward to. We are also excited to welcome our the final member of our trip as this evening Jill Rowland will join us. Tomorrow we’re off to PLTS in Berkley to do yard work and hear about what it’s like to be at a Lutheran seminary!
Blessings to you!