Our car ride down to Houston was not bad at all. Despite almost getting rammed into, we had deep conversations and caught up with our lives. Tess came back from college and Matt was moving on with his life. We talked about old friends, what we’re doing for the summer, and what blessings are set to come ahead like Matt’s marriage. The car ride did not take as long as we thought because we had so many conversations.
I only slept for the last two hours of the ride! When we got to Christ Church Cathedral, we were greeted with smiles and some waves by three ladies: Tori, Nettie, and Christy. They were very helpful and nice and took our bags. After we got settled, we were hungry but patiently waited as Tori and Nettie explained the CUSE rules. Finally, it was dinnertime.
Finding dinner was harder than we thought because at first we had reservations at 8:30, but after everything it was 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday and not many restaurants were open. We finally agreed to go to Buffalo Wild Wings. It was lightning and thundering but not raining. Until we were about half a mile away, then it started to rain, and we all started running. We got there safely and enjoyed a great meal, and got back home safely.
On Monday, Fisher and Nettie helped us with our journey. Our first mission was to serve at Emergency Aid Coalition (EAC). EAC serves meals and amilies can get food and clothes. It was like Constance Abbey on steroids. We divided into groups: The boys with Nettie and the girls with Fisher. First, the boys organized the clothes, and the girls packed some donuts. The clothes that were given were surprisingly very nice. There were about ten full suits. After about an hour and a half, we switched jobs. The smell of fresh donuts made me want to go to Gibson’s. The girls were excited to organize clothes because organizing things is right up Libby’s alley. I don’t think the boys were as excited about packing lunches because it didn't sound too fun, but we worked through it. We established an assembly line: Matt and John handled the sandwiches. I handled the donuts, and Carrigan and Nettie folded the bags. As I was sacking lunches, I began to like it. It kept on growing on me and liked it so much I didn’t want to leave. I seriously didn’t want to leave.
Throughout the rest of the day, I asked Matt when we were going to make sack lunches again. Matt suggested helping out at St. Mary’s Cathedral and More Than A Meal back in Memphis. I realized I loved it so much I would do it as a full-time job (if it paid more). Sadly, we had to leave, so I went to go get my backpack and overheard the conversation between Nettie and the EAC supervisor of EAC, who said she could use more help, but she understood we had to go. I was surprised to see how much more help she needed because we organized so many clothes and packed about 150 sandwiches. I felt sad but realized that you can never stop serving; there is always something to do. Serving is so great and can lead to lots of happiness in the world.
We went back to Christ Church Cathedral, and ate lunch, the typical chips and sandwiches. Then, we went on an “Instahunt”, which is a scavenger hunt used by phones. The girls were on a team with Nettie, and the boys were on a team with Fisher. It was fun because it was a way for us to explore Houston. We explored new churches, had a personal tour of Rice University and saw most of downtown Houston from the the train. The highlight of the Instahunt was when the girls went to a taco shop to take a picture with the owner. The funny thing is that the owner was not there and that they had to walk about a mile or more to find him. While they did that, we, the boys, went to Rice University to continue our scavenger hunt and gain points. We went back to the church and ate pizza.
After the delicious pizza, we went to ork with Friends of Northside, an organization that is a branch of Attack Poverty. It works to empower people who have fallen on hard times and need support. The house we were working on had been burned down. It was very sad when the woman told us her story because she thought it was going to be the best year of her life for her family, but everything seemed to be falling apart. She is still optimistic and believes this year will be the best of her life. Another group of 10 people joined us, and it showed that there are many good people making the world better. After more than two hours of hard work, the dumpster was 85 percent full. Although we were tired, we learned from it. Personally, I wanted to work more. We went back and took showers.
The long cold showers were nice, and Matt treated us with some ice cream. After having a conversation about ramen, Matt bought three packets of ramen: beef, chicken and shrimp. We had a little mini ramen bar and also were excited about the leftover pizza from dinner. Sadly, the kitchen was locked, so we couldn’t get the pizza, so Matt bought us more pizza. It was very kind of him, and then we finally fell asleep. At the end of the day, we saw how serving can impact so many people, but we also realized how serving can impact us. We learned from it, and Matt told us about what Father Gregory Boyle, S.J. said when he spoke at Holy Communion. We shouldn’t try to make the homeless people like us but let us be changed so we all become one.
Personally, this trip so far has brought me closer to my youth group because I was not always social with them. I was always friends with the older people. I am glad this has impacted me, and I know this will motivate me to come to youth group more.
On Tuesday, we went back with the Friends of Northside to finish up our work. Fisher and Tori worked with us. We were the only group there. We got a lot done, but we all knew that we could have gotten a lot more done with a new dumpster. It was full in 20 minutes. Despite this, we kept on working and just put everything to the side to make it easier for the next group. The highlight of this was that everyone was working together. Also, Matt showed his dad-like traits by sawing down some tough wood and dragging and picking up heavy things. He could be ready to be a dad already! We got the front walls and roof down, and all there was was the scraps and the back. We had to go back to the church for lunch, and sadly we aren’t going back because we have to serve others and explore other areas of Houston.
By Brandon Quach, pictured above