|The Portland 2014 team|
On our first full day in Portland, we parked at Lloyd Center and took the MAX to downtown, where we set the students loose to wander for a few hours and make at least ten observations about the city. After a trip to Voodoo Donuts and Powell's City of Books, we went back for a time of debrief and prayer. It was awesome to see students opening their eyes, ears, and hearts to the city, noticing cultural differences between Canada and the US in ways they hadn't before, and growing in their love for new places and people.
|Our observations about Portland|
On Thursday, we partnered with Shepherd's Door, a ministry of Portland Rescue Mission to mothers caught in a life of addiction and poverty. Our students did loads of gardening and yard work in the women's community garden, working so quickly that the SD staff didn't have enough for us to do. After getting showers at my former stomping grounds, Hinson Church, and exploring the weirdness of SE Hawthorne Blvd, we closed our evening by participating in Night Strike. A small group from our team went out on a prayer walk through the city while the rest were hosts under the Burnside Bridge, having conversations with the homeless guests and praying for those around us. What began as an uncomfortable and difficult experience turned into a transformative event for many of our students. Prayers were answered in the moment; deep conversations happened in unexpected ways; students overcame their fears in the name of Jesus.
|At Night Strike, under the Burnside Bridge|
During a time of reflection and debrief at the end of the trip, I wrote the following in my journal: "Portland was a trip where I saw God's uniting and gracious love at work. Where a team of students became the body of Christ through serving others and building each other up, and where our eyes were opened to bigger visions of who God is and how He is at work in the world around us. God's love is both greater and more intimate than before."
Thanks to our church family for your prayers, to the parents of students for the willingness to send your teens on a service trip, and to Jesus, whose love is gracious and patient and redemptive.