On January 14-17, youth from Old First were accompanied by Beth, Cody and the pastor to New York City to engage in mission work, to worship in some different settings, and to grow closer to one another and God. Welcomed to stay over by the Riverside Church, the youth worked at both St. Michael’s Episcopal and Park Avenue Christian Churches. They worshiped at Judson Memorial and Riverside Church. They visited Morningside Heights, the Upper West Side, Central Park, the Upper East Side, Time Square and Soho. They enjoyed a Ethiopian meal and cooked a thank-you dinner for their chaperones.
Hear below the reflections of our youth and the adults who accompanied them:
Annemarie: What I liked best about this weekend was that parts where the youth had some freedom and went shopping. That was cool and I felt like I really bonded with some of the other youth group members.
Beth: Going into this trip, I had no idea what to expect. I had met the youth in passing but really knew nothing about them and vice versa. This trip truly opened up my eyes to the amazing youth that we have at our church. We had a great weekend together and I can’t wait to get more involved with the youth!”
Daniel: I had such a wonderful time during the trip to NYC. It was such an amazing experience to get to stay in Riverside and to attend their Martin Luther King Jr. service….even if it went on seemingly for days.
I think the trip was a great blend of service, church, and fun. Even though I was exhausted after the day of serving at soup kitchens around the city, I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment and felt that I had done something positive for the community. (Plus, I got to meet Paige Davis from Trading Spaces!) New York is amazing; it gives off a completely different vibe than Philly. It is so full of life, constant energy, people, lights, etc. I love it; I always have! The trip has reminded me of how great it would be to live there at some point in my life…if only it weren’t so expensive. Anyway, I think most importantly it was a trip that allowed me to get to know people in the youth group so much better. People I normally only see for an hour at church I got to spend a whole weekend with, which was awesome! Furthermore, the trip allowed me to distract myself from school and from the ensuing stress of midterms. Overall, I think it was an outstanding trip! Hopefully we can do more in the future. (hint, hint – Nicaragua!!)
P.S. In terms of new experiences, never before had I re-enacted a piece of boiling macaroni
Dorothy: This trip was okay. It was fun hanging out and talking to everyone in the group. I like helping out in the soup kitchens on Saturday. It was really interesting to see the different atmospheres in the two sections of the city we worked in. What really opened my eyes, though, was seeing how much this economy has really affected people all over the country. There were Asian, Black, Spanish and White needing to be served by both soup kitchens. Many of them were not homeless; they just don’t have enough income to put food on the table for themselves. The country has to do better when it comes to helping out its citizens. We need to get the economy back on track.
Jackson: This trip to New York was more of a mission trip than one geared to entertainment. And, yet, I had no problem enjoying myself. On Saturday, when we worked at the soup kitchens, I felt great satisfaction. Not only from helping those in need, but also from the knowledge I gained. I became more aware of the general goodness of people, no matter their economic position. I learned about the social relationships of strangers, of people with nothing in common but their faith in themselves and others. However, everything was not sugar and daisies. Nonetheless, I learned from those experiences as well. When a fight broke out at one of the soup kitchens, I learned of the other side of human nature: of anger, hate, jealousy. But as I witnessed actions full of those emotions, I grew to understand the people suffering from them. This knowledge, this passion is what drives myself and others to join communities of people that stand against such feelings and thoughts that harm oneself and others. Instead of opposing through conflict, opposing in love and understanding that breed positive results.
Michael: Going away to some place new, traveling a distance together, spending 24/7 with each other, serving alongside of one another, needing to work it all out… it’s a great way to develop “new eyes:” know each other and ourselves better, understand our world and even God a bit more. The good news is I liked Annemarie, Daniel, Dorothy, Jackson, Samantha, Trixie, Beth and Cody beforehand, but now even more!
Samantha: This weekend was so fun. I got to see a new side of New York City. I got to explore, laugh, talk with a group of people I only see four times out of a month. I truly feel like I gained a friend this weekend; I would even say more than one friend! Woah! Yes, I know, that’s a huge deal for me. Why? Because for personal reasons, I don’t often let people in. But with this group, I felt free to be who I really am and to say what I really feel. We may not have spoken a lot about God and stuff, but when we did, our conversations ran deep. This is something I would love to do again.
Trixie: This trip was really fun. I liked the serving, and the worship service we went to. I have a lot of fun playing games with the rest of the youth, in particular a game “If You Dare,” which was meant for six-year-olds. I wish we could have had more time, and I want to go back.