Last week, Site 2 took part in the Vancouver Urban Plunge, an experience that involved us getting way, way out of our comfort zones. On Monday morning, YWAM Vancouver instructors sent the Outtatown students into the city with a list of questions and an extra lunch. The students spent the morning streets near East Hastings, learning more about the area, its history, and its inhabitants. Every group was also given the task to share a lunch with someone they met that morning. This task lead to many fascinating conversations with the locals, including a wandering guitar player and a man who was an immigrant from Somalia. In the afternoon, the students headed to the West Side of Hastings, a place where the worn-down buildings of the East End are replaced with towering, shining skyscrapers; the crowds of people living on the streets on the East Side are replaced by fashionably dressed business people who instead crowd into packed retail stores and coffee shops. All of us students were shocked to see the difference between the two streets separated by only a single block.
The rest of the week with YWAM included an opportunity to visit a Muslim mosque, a Sikh gurdwara, and a Buddhist temple to learn about the different faith traditions that are prevalent in the city. We also had the opportunity to serve alongside different organizations that are already working in the city. Students did some cleaning, sorted clothes at a drop-in, worked at a soup kitchen, and met a lot of incredible people!
On Thursday, we participated in what was call “Impact Day”. The idea of the day was to simply make an impact, no matter how big or small, with the amount of money you have been given. All of our groups varied in what type of impact we made that day. One group gave out flowers to people, brightening their days. One group joined a protest on the housing situation in Vancouver and donated their money to the cause.
My (Emma Mitchell) group started the day with a goal to spend the day volunteering at a woman’s shelter. When we got there, we were told that there were over 5000 volunteers per year, and you had to book volunteering months in advance. I began to feel a little discouraged, but then a woman who was sitting near us piped up and said that she would like to show us around East Hastings and give us a better understanding of what was going on. The woman’s name was Janice, and she turned out to be an incredible inspiration to us all. Janice is a recovering drug addict who has been sober for 19 months after 24 years of usage. She also has the strongest faith that I’ve ever seen. She thanks God for everything in her life, and lifts everything up to Him. She told us her story with sadness and with hope, and we all felt a genuine bond grow with her as the morning went on. We took her out to lunch with the money we had been given, and she was so excited and happy to be with us and to be sharing parts of her life with us. It was such an amazing day, and my group agreed that God put Janice into our lives that morning. We had gone out with expectation of impacting hundreds, but we learned that impacting one person by doing something as simple as listening to them is equally as important, and we left pretty impacted ourselves. As Hailey Funk said during the debrief time that afternoon, ‘everything happens for a reason, and that reason is God.’
As we prepare to head back to our homes in the next few weeks, we are keeping the people that we interacted with on East Hastings in our thoughts and prayers, and we hope to take our experiences this week home with us so that we have a desire to serve our brothers and sisters coming from all walks of life. If there’s one thing I took away from this week, it’s that God loves all of his children, and is at work in their lives, even if they don’t realize it. God is always present, even in the most harrowing situations.
Psalm 46:1- “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble.”
Have a wonderful week! God bless!
By Emma Mitchell and Adam Regier