We arrived in Philadelphia around 4pm ish. Navigated our way through the city and over to the west side to what would be our base of operations for the week, a renovated row house on 42nd. When we arrived, we learned that two other groups were also staying at the CSM (Center for Student Missions) house. One group was from Temple University, just across town in Philly, the other from Waynesburg University which is about an hour south of Pittsburgh.
We had a lot of trouble getting Waynesburg right, calling them wingate, wingsburg, wingsboro, waynesboro, etc. We didn't get to hang with them as much because of the scheduling of when groups were out on work sites. We did however make some long lasting friends with the Temple group. I always enjoy meeting, and making new brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world.
Marie Johnson served as our host and tour guide for the week, intent on winning our hearts. We spent some time unpacking, and taking control of some bunk beds. Our group got a row of 3 together at one end of the room, I somehow chose what would be the top bunk over top of Kellar. Those of you who know him, know this week is allready going to be interesting.
All in all about 35ish people were all staying in one house. Somehow the shower rotation never became a problem, nor preparing meals. After settling in, we headed out and ate Indian food, and got to know our hew hosts, and the Temple group. Of all the ethnic restaurants, Indian would be my favorite because of the all you can eat buffet, and the "Milk balls" (I can't remember what they were called) that tasted just like milk and pan cakes. YUM!
Afterwards we loaded up and took a prayer tour around the city. We started at love park right in the heart of the city. Many of the homeless people hang out around the park, and along the parkway running to the art museum where Rocky once ran up the steps. We headed nearby and sat under an overpass, as Marie shared with us statistics about the city.
Did you know that Pennsalvania is one of the richest states in the US? Yet Philadelphia is among one of the poorest cities? While millions of dollars are spent on high rises and grandiose architecture in the attempt of outdoing one another, thousands walk the streets, with few places to go, fewer jobs with which to take, and get out of the circle of poverty.
1 in 4 people never graduated high school for that matter. We visited another section where the city built and EL right over top of some neighborehoods, essentially burrying them, blocking the sunlight, and the rain from ever reaching the ground again. A valley where life was decaying, all because of a city who only cares for those with money.
Through the prayer journey, we began to see and to feel the hopelessness the poverty stricken feel living within the city. Imagine being a little flee on a football field. Loneliness sadly runs rampant throughout the city of brotherly love.
When we returned, we debriefed, then headed up stairs to head to bed.
Never in my life, have a simple mattress and taking a short shower made me feel like i was richer than even Soloman in the Bible.