June 29, 2009

[ the West Side Story ]

{this is the article I wrote for our church newsletter...along with LOTS of pictures!}

The West Side Story
Tales from the CUMC Youth Mission Trip to Seattle

The 2009 CUMC Youth Mission Trip was an amazing experience! We thoroughly enjoyed making our mark on Seattle and serving God through our hearts and hands.

We departed on Wednesday, June 24th after enjoying a wonderful send-off brunch prepared by Zoee DeRuwe, Shelly Hawk, Donna Klindworth, and Kara Booker. Thank you to everyone who came to send us off in prayer. We felt uplifted all week long. After we said our goodbyes, we were Seattle bound! We arrived in the Seattle area and made our first stops at Costco and QFC Grocery Store. At both stores, the youth were challenged to a scavenger hunt to find all the groceries on their lists to complete our grocery shopping for the week. Thanks to those that donated grocery items, there wasn’t a lot left on our lists!
We arrived at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church and were greeted by Barbara, their secretary, who showed us around to our home for the next few days.
We unpacked, settled in, and headed to the Seattle Mariners game! We had great seats along the 3rd base line and cheered the M’s onto a win over the San Diego Padres.
Ken Griffey Jr.
We were up bright and early on Thursday morning to begin our work at Northwest Harvest’s warehouse in Kent. Their volunteer coordinators told us about the work Northwest Harvest does and then put us to work! Each of us had a job and together, along with two friendly 3rd grade girls and their nanny, bagged 2,966 lbs of coffee donated by Starbucks into 2 lb bags. Those 1483 bags will serve over 800 families. After Northwest Harvest, we toured New Horizon Ministries in downtown Seattle. Because they only allow volunteers over 18, we weren’t able to serve, but we did learn a lot about their important ministry to homeless youth. They are planning to open a coffee shop in July to teach the youth they serve employable skills, so Derek, Cullen, and Mack were able to help with some construction projects there. That evening, we enjoyed seeing the Pixar movie “Up” in 3D at the historic Neptune Theater in the U District.
On Friday, we began our day at the Atlantic Street Center where we painted welcoming plywood hearts that line their sidewalk and yard. They were very colorful looking with suns, rainbows, hearts, and words of encouragement. We also weeded and did yard work in the Center Garden, a place for people they serve to retreat. We all loved played with their Volunteer Coordinator’s 7-week old Golden Retriever, Maggie. The wonderful people at Atlantic Street Center gave us goody bags with treats and a coupon for Baskin Robbins, which we enjoyed later that night. After a quick lunch at a nearby park, we went to Urban Impact to help set up for a benefit concert they were hosting that evening to raise money to pay their summer interns that work at their day camp for elementary children. We did things like set up the concessions, build a dance floor, move chairs, make signs, and advertise in a local shopping area. After a pizza dinner, we enjoyed “The Jump Off 2009” benefit concert that featured local artists.
We started Saturday morning by enjoying Pike Place Market and all the fun things it offers. Kellie was chased by the famous fish throwers with a HUGE octopus, lots of us shopped for souvenirs for our sponsors, and we found the infamous Gum Wall. We all chewed up a piece and stuck it on the wall with millions of other pieces! We went to the Youth Reach Out Center, part of the Seattle Urban Gospel Mission and helped clean out their theater area, moved desks, and learned about their ministry. We enjoyed lunch and some free time at Seward Park before we went to Hope Place, also part of the Seattle Union Gospel Mission. Hope Place is a residential home for women and children that helps rehabilitate the women and put them in homes, school, and jobs. We were so happy to be able to serve dinner to the women and children and talk with them. The women are usually served cafeteria style, so to be personally served their meal at the table by our youth was a blessing to the women, but the interaction the youth had with the women was the real blessing. Reluctantly, we had to leave Hope Place to return to Blaine Memorial UMC to clean and pack up there.
On Sunday morning, after packing up the cars and trailer, we worshipped with the Blaine Memorial UMC congregation, a Japanese-American congregation. They were incredibly welcoming to our group and were excited to hear about the work we did in Seattle. We left the church and made our way to Seattle Center to enjoy the Experience Music Project. Everyone had a chance to rock out and try their hand at the guitars, drums, and keyboards. A highlight was the Jim Henson exhibit where we all got to be puppeteers with the Muppets! On our way home, we ate a last meal together at Red Robin in Issaquah. We arrived back at CUMC to welcoming families, full of stories of our week and hopefully to listening ears!
Nick, Kate, and I are very proud of each of the youth that went on the trip for their diligence, hard work, and cheerful attitudes no matter what the task. We are especially appreciative of Cullen and Lauren for their leadership as the oldest in the group and will miss them on future mission trips.
We are so grateful to our CUMC family for supporting us through prayer, supplies, finances, and love during our time preparing for our trip and while we were in the mission field. We were incredibly proud to be an extension of our church and hopefully, represented you all to the best of our ability.
Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts. This would have been impossible without you.

Cullen Klindworth
Lauren Booker
Kate Hawk
Kellie DeRuwe
Alison Erickson
Elaine Pierson
Paxton Carlisle
Whitney Jones
Megan Booker
Mack Smith
Derek Klindworth
Marcie Koch
Kate Johnson
Nick Johnson