Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mission Project: Jacksonville Day One

You only think I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha... *thunk*

The other classic blunder is to think that writing a blog at 11 PM, after a day of hot sun and sports with the neighborhood kids is an easy task. The truth is that I fell asleep waiting for the pictures to upload on Flickr last night. So don't try to write in bed when you are tired either.

Yesterday saw the arrival of our super tall friend Zach. He finally made it to J-ville after flying from Birmingham. We were all excited to greet Zach. He only missed a small amount of our activities. Monday morning greeted us with cereal and a devotion on Ezekiel 16. The passage challenges us to truly love God and to not play the whore who gives herself, or pays men to be with her. In this passage one cannot help to be convicted about our lack of pure love toward our Saviour.

"We went to the pool and talked to kids, you know like, when they were all cool, like you know Jeremiah and then, totally we went swimming at the pool and then random kids came up and dunked us while chicken fighting with, you know like, us and then we like we walked home and after that more stuff like you know sitting around so that we had to go to like you know this huge park where we like played football and they are like really passionate about football, like you know that one guy Sammy, who you know was like you know playing tackle, hardcore but like it was really cool and they were really passing to the white kids and like stuff with the girls like playing happy hands and like dancing."

The Above paragraph was quoted verbatim by Andrew Murphy, who seems to be really, like, euphoric about his experience thus far.

Seriously, folks, Monday was acclimation day as we kept our schedule full of "fun" things that introduced us to some of the neighborhood kids. The purpose of this of course was for us to begin the implementation of the intentional relationship building that is integral to our ministry here on 24th street. We are living in a house that is viewed almost like a community house, in that the youth in the community come and visit at their leisure. The boundaries, which all of the community youth seem to not only know, but respect and follow willingly, are knocking and asking for permission to use or do things in the house. This provides our hosts opportunities to share Christ in community and to be a safe place on the block. In the early afternoon, we had the opportunity to meet our neighbors in the friendly confines of the public swimming pool. We proved to be great "tall" bases for young kids to chicken fight in the water. Needless to say some of us left the pool a bit on the water logged side. So after swimming for only forty-five minutes we headed back to the house. The walk is a mere few blocks and with all of us sticking together we look rather out of place. A large group of white kids in the middle of the 'hood certainly raises the attention of people (more on that later).

Miss Ruth, our leader here in Jacksonville, has been leading us in thought provoking discussion on race, poverty, and justice. Our first discussion dealt with understanding how what we value (relationships, things, etc.) is a good indicator of our social class. We generally exhibited the desires of middle class society (no surprise). However, Kimberly and I, tested positive for poverty instincts (youth pastors usually do). Intrinsically what we value, how we spend or use our money, how we view education, and even how we project our future plans is ripe with our social class. Our environment plays a key role in our perceived attitude toward a host of social responses. Things we take for granted in our social demographic, often are unthinkable of in poverty level demographics. Not to mention the racial divide that perpetuates differentiated social strata. More on that later.

After lunch we walked a few more blocks to a playground/park that is adjacent to the NFL youth center. It's the brightest building in the neighborhood, functioning as a Boys and Girls Club. We showed up at the playground's basketball court with a bag of various sports balls. Some of us took to the basketball court, while others started a game of kickball in the adjacent yard. Some of our guys started up a game of football that was quickly joined by some of the most passionate athletes that would have put the Clardy's heart for Alabama football to the test. The basketball court became like a honey comb of excitement as guys came out of nowhere to put their pride on the line in an extremely intense competition of epic proportions. We learned very quickly that even some lanky white guys can hold their own against some of the best ballers any of us had ever witnessed (or at least the best talkers). They became more inviting as we gained their respect by hustling and playing with fervor. After several full court games we all were ready to head back to the house to take showers and have some dinner. We were joined by several of the neighborhood youth, who enjoyed our conversation and the lasagna (mostly the lasagna).

As bed time approached it was met with great anticipation and silent rejoicing as we all soon fell fast asleep.


danton said...

I'm envious and now regret not trying harder to get time off from work to go with you guys and gals.

Enjoy being His hands and feet. Enjoy practicing and actually loving His people.

Clardy said...

Do I hear Jacksonville calling us out? I think I can be ready for a game this week!