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Day 3: Inconsequential Moments

Joel here. Today marks the first full day with the entire team present. It’s good to be in Philly, but I’ll be honest and admit that I miss the Boston temperatures.We have had a very laid back day by Eastside mission trip standards, but it has been productive nonetheless. We started off the day with a delicious, late morning pancake breakfast prepared by our awesome volunteers (Mendi, David, and Jane). Breakfast was followed by a team worship service held in the sanctuary of our host church. The space is under construction as volunteer teams make repairs after years of neglect. So we worshiped this morning amid piles of lumber, tools, sound equipment, books, an old baptistry, and a lot of dust. Thanks to Alec for helping us out with music. It was awesome!

We were afforded the opportunity to hear from the new area church planter, Stephen, and met his family. Three weeks ago they moved into a house just four blocks from the church. They left a thriving congregation of 700 in North Carolina to plant a new church in Philadelphia. Stephen shared an uplifting and challenging message from Acts 11, and reminded us all of the incredible vitality of the church even when confronted by big challenges. The church of Jesus Christ will prevail!

Worship was followed by our team going out into the community to simply serve by cleaning up the streets around us. The church sits right at the dividing line where a typical middle class area and lower income area come together. We are here to help Stephen and his family show the people in this community the love of Christ in action, and I smile as I share the following story with you.

After enjoying lunch and some games, the students took it upon themselves to organize a trip to the local park just a few blocks from the church. They joined in with the locals playing basketball, throwing a frisbee, and playing with the children gathered at the playground. In the midst of all the fun, our team members Lexie, Caleb, and Jane encountered a young boy. Through conversation they found out that the boy’s bicycle was broken. Lexie piped up and volunteered her dad’s mechanical skills to fix the bicycle, and David and Lexie followed him to the broken bike. His parents had already placed it in the back of the car. David offered his services and in the midst of fixing the bike, struck up a conversation with the parents. David and Lexie were able to share with them who they were, and why they were hanging out at the neighborhood park. The parents thanked David and Lexie and they went their separate ways. As David and Lexie were returning to the playground, the boy on his newly fixed bicycle came riding up behind them with a six-pack of water. He said that his parents wanted to say thank you one more time for fixing his bike. The water was later given away to the other children in the playground.

These little moments are the ones that stick with you when you return home from a mission trip. They seem inconsequential, but may yield future results for Stephen and the work he is just now beginning. We are here to scatter seed and may never see a harvest. Tomorrow we begin the work we have planned out, knowing that as we go about our day in Philadelphia we will encounter these moments where we will join God in the work He has already begun. Please continue to pray for our team, and those we will encounter on the streets, buses, and in the parks of Philadelphia.