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Day 5: Meaningful Impact

“Never underestimate the power of prayer,” was the first phrase out of our mouths this morning. If you’ve been following this week’s events, you know that the heat index in Philly has been off the charts. Some of the locals are telling us that it’s the hottest week of the summer, and that we need to go back to the South and take the heat with us (with smiles on their faces, of course). We may be from Georgia, but the high-nineties temperatures of the past few days has been getting to us. So when we looked out of our windows to see an overcast sky this morning, we were all thankful to God for answering our prayers for a cooler day. While the temperatures were still in the high eighties, we were able to complete some intensive labor and, yes, more walking.

Students were split up using the teams from yesterday’s surveying, only this time about half stayed at the church to do some mulching and weeding. Supervised by our master landscaper, Justin, the crew worked tirelessly for hours at the church and down several blocks to pull weeds and lay down new mulch. Some neighbors were confused as to why a group of teenagers would be cleaning up parts of the city in the heat of the day, and we pray that this act of kindness left an impression on their hearts. One resident in particular seemed touched, and came out to thank us for working, then offered some cold water to the hard workers.

Another great story that was shared with us actually came from a group from Arkansas who is also working with Pastor David Pearson. They did similar landscaping work yesterday and a realtor from the area posted pictures on Instagram to his 2000+ followers. A conversation began in the comments from curious neighbors asking what kind of groups were doing the work. We are so happy that God is working through different teams for the same purpose.

Meanwhile, the surveying teams rode buses into Overbrook, a neighborhood with a higher income level than our previous destinations. We were surrounded by houses from the 1800s and got to walk through part of the St. Joseph University campus. Several people were out walking and very open to sharing about their neighborhoods and the history behind them. The survey teams also got the chance to go to Larry’s Cheese Steaks and eat an authentic Philadelphia staple.

The sports camp was led by the football team. Coaches Brock, Noah, and Caleb taught some basic fundamentals of the game at three stations and the children rotated every few minutes. We divided the older and younger kids, and played two games of touch football, all teams were quite competitive. In the game with the older kids, one team was short one player, so Phillip got to show the Philly kids how it’s done. Everywhere you looked, there was a smiling child in the sports camp.

Several children asked why we are here, holding a sports camp for them. One girl asked Miss Jane what heaven was. Coach Tim wrapped up the camp with a moving presentation of the gospel. Some of the children said they accepted Christ! With this being only the second day, we are excited to see what the Lord will do in the coming days!

One thing that has been stressed to us the entire week is the importance of spending our own time with God. We cannot keep pouring out of ourselves without replenishing our souls by talking to God ourselves. Every day has started with a Bible study and devotion before breakfast, and every evening has been wrapped up with a group worship session. These make sure that we never lose focus of why we are here.