San Antonio, TX 2 - Homelessness and Poverty (Post 2)

The twelve of us are on a sailboat in the middle of a stormy ocean fishing, and there is a great white shark about to take or line. And when it does, we sit there looking at each other as the ocean calms and the sun sets behind us. Our little sailboat is filled to the brim and rocks as we move; this is how we feel about today.

Today was emotionally uplifting and draining all at the same time. Just as we did yesterday, we split into three groups of four. One group folded clothes, one went to the thrift store and one worked with the kids. Soon after finishing work, we went to an authentic Tex-Mex restaurant for an amazing dinner and then took a walk to get some ice cream place we found when we got lost driving the other day. We've really embodied the whole "go-with-the-flow" thing, well most of us anyway.

Folding clothes today was very similar to the other day, but the connection to the kids was more real. We were able to connect between groups and connect names on clothing to faces of kids in the classroom. The more time we all spend with each other and the more each of us rock the boat, you'd think we would get frustrated with each other, right? You'd be wrong. We love each other #blessed.

The thrift store was similar to yesterday as well. We worked with some of the most positive and inspiring people we have ever met, and they had a few life lessons I would like to share with you.

One: Take breaks often. If you aren't enjoying yourself, it isn't work.

Two: Don't ever let someone tell you what to do. One of our new family members Toni is a painter. He paints a few strokes at a time throughout the day, and just works on his paintings when he feels like it. They are some amazing paintings, but he only enjoys it when he picks the subject matter. He hates when people tell him what to paint. Three: Do good things. That's it.

Four: Love everyone and always do things through positive vibes and good intentions.

The third group got to work with kids, and when we regrouped, they shared amazing stories with such passion in their voices. They talked about little things like helping a kid write the number three. They shared how the kids thought they were so cool and exciting and loved that we were there for them. Just for them. They shared the teachers said that we were role models and they could serve like us one day. Wow. That sends chills down my spine. These kids could complete a even bigger mission and impact kids lives just like we are.

Somehow everything is connected. The kids we labeled clothes for the other day, spent time with one of our groups. The kids would show us their brand new shoes or their hoodie. The clothes that were labeled were put into outfits and folded so that the kids could receive them. The kids get to go to the thrift store we've been working at to pick out clothes on special occasions.

Our sailboat is what brought us here. We want to serve these people and we have such positive attitudes about creating a better life for these kids. We are so excited and gumby about doing the little things to make everyone's life easier. We each have these deep personal connections to our cause, each different from everyone else's but somehow all leading to the exact same place. Our backstories are what make us who we are. With us, you can't see our stories from what we look like, and we don't just open up to everyone we meet. The kids, however, are not the same. They don't just wear their heart on their sleeves, but they wear the physical pain. The scrapes and bruises are still visible on some, and their stories can sometimes be even harder to take. The people who worked with the kids today were a bit inspired by the staff. There is one teacher and one teacher's aid at The Children's Shelter, and they teach kindergarden, first and third graders presently, but sometimes, they can range from kindergarden to fifth grade. And two people teach them all at the same time. Being there today and listening to the stories, we left with heavy hearts, but knew what our work meant. That day where we sat there working with numbers or reading or just being an ear to listen means much more to the kids than we can ever know. And our little boat of dedication brought us here.

The shark is the kids and the people we are serving. They are taking everything we are giving. And we can see it coming and get scared about what is still to come, and how to handle ourselves, but we end up okay. The groups who haven't gotten to work with the kids yet are apprehensive and excited all at the same time. We know that the bitter sweet feeling will come, but each child is different, and we don't know what to expect. It's scary for us, but how about for them? We don't know where they came from. We have no clue what their story is, but if they ended up here, they have to have been so scared.

The sun is setting behind us, and that's the bright future. A future that is hard to visualize, but you can still look at it. And each minute you look at it, the colors change. Each person sees something a little different. The kids are going to have a brighter future because of the things we are doing. And so are we. Each minute I spend talking to these people and anticipating spending time with the kids, I am learning more about myself and the world. I think I speak for everyone when I say we are changing kids lives, and they are changing ours.

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