For the first week of our journey the Central team headed to the Janesville, Wis., Corps to meet Majors Bob and Ruth Fay. We got to the corps late in the evening, so we were all quite tired, but the immediate energy pouring from Major Ruth gave us excitement for the work ahead of us. For the short time we were there we sent kids to camp, helped in the feeding program, led worship in a prayer meeting and evangelized through inviting people to a block party that we put on for the community. Every day was filled with joy, and it was so exciting to see how God is using the Janesville corps and its people to spread His Word and show people His love. Major Ruth told us one day while we were there, “I will not let the devil take my joy away because I love what I do.” We could see this rang true for the whole corp, and we are excited to see this corps’ future growth.
Following Janesville, we went to the Salvation Army camp in Black Hills, S.D. There we served as camp counselors and program staff for the Native American camp that took place that week. The officers in charge of the camp, Major Nate and A/Captain Michelle Johnson, were very welcoming, bright and funny. The camp staff exuded helpfulness throughout the week. The kids were adorabl, and our team really enjoyed getting to know them and share God with them. Through all the serious and funny moment, our love for the kids grew. Many gave their lives to Jesus during the daily Bible lessons.
The team’s next stop after Black Hills was St. Louis, Mo., to help at the Temple Houses, where young adults live and join the community around them. With the help of Sara Johnson and everyone in this ministry, we were able to learn what urban missions really is about. We were able to contribute to the community garden and lead children in activities for the drop-in program at the St. Louis Temple Corps.
Sara also introduced us to other non-profit organizations that are doing great work in St. Louis. She explained more progress can be made when resources and expertise are shared. May God continue to bless the urban missions program, and may they continue to do great things.
From St. Louis our team made it back to Chicago to join the Creative Arts Service Team (CAST) and fly to Eleuthera, Bahamas. Together, we led a VBS for the week. Everyone we met was so genuinely humble and filled with joy. Every day more than 40 kids came to the corps for VBS, and every day brought new joys and new ways to see God’s work. We enjoyed being with the kids and at the end of the week many of them said it was the best part of their summer.
We were able to experience the culture of the Bahamas and try local fruits, such as mangos and pineapples. On our final night the corps members prepared a delicious meal of local Bahamian food as a thank you to the teams.
After our return from the Bahamas, we headed to Missouri to join Salvation Army youth at the national Jamboree. During the week our team stayed in tents and helped lead activities such as archery, canoeing and crafts. The team met teens from many different backgrounds and places, and we were able to teach them new and different talents. Situations that could have been seen as setbacks, such as a huge storm and a major power outage, God used to His advantage. Two meetings were held in a pavilion without a stage or sound system. The musicians and speakers stood on tables and shouted God’s Word to us. This taught our team about flexibility and showed how with God anything is possible.
After the jamboree, we headed to the Detroit, Mich., Harbor Light. The harbor light is a Salvation Army program where people struggling with substance abuse can come to not only work through the addiction but learn about God. Everyone we met during the week had an amazing testimony and an impact on the team.
On Monday and Friday we went out on the Bed & Bread trucks, serving over 2,000 meals to the people of Detroit. In the mornings we’d work in the kitchen where food is prepared 365 days a year to feed, not only the men and women residents of the harbor light, but also the thousands of people the trucks serve.
On Wednesday we went to another Monroe, Mich., harbor light and had a cookout with the people staying there. The team also got to enjoy spending time with people from the Detroit harbor light through a hike and a women’s ministries chocolate party! Every experience we had was such a blessing and a joy. Not only was the ministry an amazing experience, but the hospitality and faith shown through Captains Jamie and Deb Winkler, the officers stationed there, were truly remarkable to experience. They opened our eyes to the diversity and beauty that Detroit has to offer.
This summer has been full of fellowship, ministry and God’s grace. Everyone on the team has learned so much about the world and God’s work in it.