I have so much to say about the mission trip I went on this past week. I was hoping to keep up with it all better as I was there, but we had no internet access. Hopefully I won't forget anything important. :)
It all started a few months ago when our small group was thinking about going to Haiti. For some reason that trip fell through. The more we talked about it, the more we thought it would be nice to go somewhere where a little closer since we all have little ones. Our church prints out lists every year of short, mid, and long term trips. One was to Atlanta. It was proposed to the group and I signed up. (Matt couldn't go because he doesn't have much vacation time at work. We already used a week at the beach, and not enough would accrue before this trip. He can't get out of going next time. :) ) Our team of 7 met together a couple of times beforehand, but we were never really sure what we would be doing on this trip.
So on Monday, with very little information about our trip, we loaded up bright and early in order to be in Clarkston by 9am. We got there right on time. By there I mean to Clarkston Oaks Apartments. That's where we met the leader, Zach. He led us into a bottom floor apartment building that they call the basement. I'm sure that's because there were no windows and it was 2 big rooms joined together by a kitchen. The basement is very unfinished, but they said we should have seen it a few weeks before. :) Another group from Chattanooga joined us and then began our day of teaching/training. Our first session was mostly about what a refugee is, what Global Frontier Missions is all about, some rules, and cultural orientation. After that we packed a sack lunch and headed over to the Hindu temple.
This temple is the largest one outside of India. It's right amongst the new shopping centers that had publix, subway, etc. Although very beautiful and intricately sculpted and put together, there was a very creepy spirit. We made our way inside and my heart broke watching so many worshipers bowing prostrate to their statue gods. These gods get bathed daily, fed snacks/meals, have their clothes changed, and are put to bed in their pajamas at night. All we could do was pray for their lost souls to find Jesus.
We ate our sack lunch in the car on the way back to the apartment complex for some more teaching. After that session we went on a tour of Clarkston. We found out "the local high school has students from more than 50 countries; a local mosque had 800 worshippers; and by some estimates, half the population was from outside the U.S." (wikipedia) Since the early 90's approximately 60,000 refugees have been resettled in this area. With over 150 different ethnic groups represented within and around the city. I think they said about 2,500 refugees come to this area every year. After more teaching several of us loaded up in the van and drove to the apartment complex next door. (Clarkston is 80% apartments.) As we walked up to the open common area my friend Kimberly noticed a couple of ladies killing a chicken on their back patio. Not too much later we smelled something on fire. They had thrown the whole chicken on the grill to burn the feathers off. Very interesting. :) ha! We played with several children in the complex. Many that I met were from Burma.
After leaving there we went back for dinner and then had some free time. We walked out the door and watched children play on the playground that GFM provided. So cool to see so many nationalities. That night we broke up in to groups to debrief and talk about what we'd learned that day and what had impacted us the most. Then lights were out by 10 or so. We were very tired, but were looking forward to what the rest of the week held.