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Reflections on the Youth Mission Trip


Written by Caleb Hofheinz


When you think of Washington D.C. most of you probably think of the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian, etc. This is all I knew and expected before going into this mission trip, and I was severely mistaken. Behind the facade of the National Mall, there lies a rich culture and vast diversity of people with lots of history and stories to tell. Most importantly, there are some areas of DC that struggle economically and don't have easily accessible good nutritious food. DC is broken up into eight “wards,” with wards seven and eight being classified as “food deserts.” A food desert is defined as “an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.” This means that many citizens in DC have to travel very far to have access to good healthy food to eat, with just one or two grocery stores in a given area. For many low-income families, this obstacle leads to a lack of good nutrition or worse, going hungry. The Waypoint youth group partnered with City, Service, Mission (CSM) which seeks to spread the gospel and try to tackle these big issues facing DC citizens.


Now with that background out of the way, I’m going to talk about what we did as a group with CSM that week. We kicked things off with a townhouse community named Citygate, where we provided childcare for the kids there through a summer program that offered food for these kids in the months that they weren't in school. It also provided a space for the kids to have fun with one another. We played games with them and gave them a lesson about how Jesus is our savior and firm foundation. These kids were very sweet and happy we were there. I had a good time with one of the kids specifically, his name is Sy’ree and we had lots of fun making paper airplanes. It was nice to know such a simple activity can help people connect and get closer!


The next day we volunteered with a group called Martha’s Table. Martha’s Table provides healthy food for those who are in need and struggle to have options. They offer a market to those who come by their building, giving out produce such as potatoes, peppers, onions, oranges, bananas, and apples, as well as ground beef and tuna. Our rep we worked with was Lamar, and he told us a bit more about the mission of Martha’s Table, how we can show the love of Christ through this outreach and give low-income or families in poverty a chance to help them get on their feet. We mostly volunteered at their “Lobby market” which functioned almost exactly like a grocery store, the people coming in chose the different foods they would like based on their own preference, giving them more freedom and dignity while also providing the food they need. In addition to the market, they also provide educational classes and books for kids, so that they can get the education and literacy that are so important for young children. They also provide diapers for infant families, which Derek and I helped unload a shipment of during our time there. These diapers are received from the Diaper bank of DC, and Martha’s Table distributes them to people who need them.


In addition to helping these organizations with volunteer work, CSM also gave us the opportunity to try different ethnic foods from around the world. The first night was some traditional Ethiopian food, which was amazing. It consists of a large plate of many different foods to try, and in lieu of silverware, everyone has rolls of flatbread called Injera, which you pick up the food with in pieces and eat the whole thing. We concluded our days with devotionals where we went over our days and different God moments we saw, whether that be something someone said or something that happened, just something you saw God through.


Wednesday we went over to the Franciscan Monastery of DC, in which we worked on the farm they had there that provided fresh farm to table meals to many people in DC. The man that introduced us was Lou, and he explained to us how our efforts to work on their farm enabled them to give out food for free and serve the community, which really widened my perspective on mission work as a whole. It gave me hope that even something as simple as working on a farm, pulling potatoes and weeds, can have such a big impact on the community and help further advance the kingdom of God. The last group we worked with was Seabury and they aimed to provide lawn care to those who may not be able to afford it or don’t have time to maintain. My group went to a gentleman’s house and trimmed his bushes, cleaned up his lawn and raked leaves. After we finished, the look on his face and the joy he had was worth so much to us. It was a wonderful opportunity to show love to our neighbors, no matter who they may be.


In the latter half of our week, we took a step back from volunteering and engaged in an activity that CSM called the urban plunge. This put us in the shoes of one of these low-income families, trying to navigate food for the month, maintaining a budget, staying healthy, being realistic about time and transportation, and showing us the suffering that these families go through on a daily basis. This activity challenged us to think about the privileges and benefits we have in where we live, and how we can help those in the community around us. The last day, the youth group had fun visiting some museums in the national mall and seeing the zoo before we finally returned home.


I learned so much this week, from correcting my misconceptions about DC, engaging in tangible ways to give back to the community, as well as showing me ways to serve even in my hometown and be a light that exemplifies God’s love. This mission trip was an amazing experience for me as well as the entire youth group. We got to grow in our faith and love our DC brothers and sisters, and ultimately spread the good news to the people. I can’t wait to see what next year has in store for the youth group, I know everyone is looking forward to it too.








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