After a mere four hours of sleep, our group was up and ready to go with our first day of service in New Jersey. Just check out the photographic evidence:
In all seriousness, these guys hit their marks all day long. They were ready, willing, and able to roll up their sleeves at a moment’s notice, slowing down only when logistics got in the way.
Today’s work involved partnering with Ocean County Long Term Relief Group (OCLTRG), a network of organizations designed to help people access the resources required to recover from the storm. One of their biggest obstacles was the lack of data about how much has already been accomplished since Sandy. About 250 people from our Synod were involved in canvassing neighborhoods and collecting and distributing information. We left for hangers and cards with a number to reach OCLTRG, and did our best to determine which houses remain in need of assistance. We were divided into “mission districts”, and our group of about 45 volunteers- Mission District 3 – was able to supply information to 777 homes! It wasn’t always easy to see that our work made a difference, but we’re trying to keep in mind that all of the work we have been called to do is significant because it signals our love for and commitment to our brothers and sisters in NJ.
Following our work day, we grabbed dinner and prepared for tonight’s activity: an evening along the boardwalk at Point Pleasant Beach. During dinner, we surprised Dayton with a cake for his birthday, and he was just thrilled:
Dylan and Ryan got up close and personal with the waves.
We also spent some time walking the boardwalk and checking out the shops. Our last large group activity was a devotional worship service on the beach. Gathered around the cross, we prayed for our joys and sorrows, reflected on the gift of Holy Baptism, and pondered the important truth that the Spirit of God is able to bring life and newness out of brokenness and pain.
After our group devotions, we headed to bed, resting to prepare for another day of service in Christ’s name, and praying that God would use us to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly” (Micah 6:8). May it be so among us as our journey continues into Day Five!