East Missional Community Update

The last couple of months our east side missional community (ESMC) has been actively seeking how to plug-in and support our side of the metro in meaningful and effective ways. While it’s sometimes easy to get overwhelmed when talking about the needs of our neighbors, we’ve found it most effective to scale down our overarching goals (i.e. feeding the hungry) to more tangible plans able to be carried out by the group.

Here are a few ways we’ve stepped out this spring:

  1. Garlough Environmental Magnet School (GEMS) has continued to be a focus for our group, so when they asked for a few volunteers to help at a spaghetti feed in support of their literacy program it was a no brainer to help out. Families served dinner and/or stopped in to enjoy the meal hosted at Henry Sibley High, and they were pleased with the turnout and dollars raised for the program at this inaugural event.
  2. Another way we found opportunity to come alongside GEMS families was through a food drive targeted specifically for over their spring break. 70% of the students there are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program, meaning that outside of school these children aren’t guaranteed to have enough food, so it was very cool to see all of Awaken rally to bring 50 bags over for the social worker to distribute to families that needed it most. Kids were excited, grateful, and brutally honest as they shared what a treat this was since they weren’t used to having much food in the house. The bag contents were thoughtfully determined by one of our group members, taking nutrition, shelf life, and literacy into account. What a neat and simple way to make a big difference! We hope to do this again.
  3. Neighbors don’t always fall into our “zip code” per say, and this group has proven that by organizing a quilting party to make a blanket for the family of a victim that a Colorado school shooting left behind at just seventeen years old. The blanket featured seventeen stars to remember her years, and to show the family that the light of her life shines on. There was much laughter and fellowship in the making of this quilt, which was truly a group effort and encompassed a lot of dedication by the stakeholders of the project! We hope the family was comforted by this creative gesture of community.

My favorite part of MC is seeing new faces as people check it out and get involved when and how they are able. It’s a fun group always looking for the next thing to jump into and I can’t wait to see where He takes us next.

Remember, missional communities exist to help ideas come to life as we step out faithfully as a group, powered by action, to serve the community at large.

Have an outreach idea? Maybe this post has sparked something in you. Tell us by commenting with what kinds of things YOU would like to see MC get involved in and let’s make it happen. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Make Big Plans

This challenge, written as a blog post by marketing guru Seth Godin in February of 2011, changed my life. It’s what inspired me to literally walk away from my mediocre lifestyle to chase after something more. For me, that meant quitting my job and going on a year-long missions trip, where God opened my eyes to a world of impoverished people living far richer lives than I could ever attest to back home.

Immersed in this simple and earnest way of life, I was struck by the impact we, as human beings, can have just by “showing up” in our surroundings.

I thought I needed a grand plan with statistical outcomes proving its success. Build! Educate! Revamp! Remove! And don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need those things, but what I often felt left the most lasting impact in the cities we lived in (from me personally), were the friendships. Seeing people – looking at them square in the eye and seeing them – for who they are seemed to make a visible world of difference. So my “big plan” actually proved to be something seemingly quite small.

My conviction is that we live in a world where people go unseen. They get lost in the shuffle and drown in the overwhelming obstacles that life throws, be it poverty, depression, anxiety, loneliness…

I have always said I can do anything with “just one other person.” Who doesn’t love a sidekick? There is comfort and strength in that. As a Missional Community leader, I see myself as a “sidekick” for the east side. We all want to make a difference, (re-enter the grand plan) and in the process make lasting connections with the people in our neighborhoods, together. There are no bad ideas. We strive to incorporate and explore all possibilities driven by the passions of the group.

As a result, my hope and prayer is that we continue to “make big plans” for the East Side community, because as Seth notes:

…it’s the best way to make big things happen.

I hope you join us for our next Dinner & Discussion. We meet the 3rd Sunday of every month from 5-7 PM at the Joke Joint to hang out and explore ways to benefit our community at large. Oh, and to have some fun, too.

Hoot Hike Happenings

The Garlough Environmental Magnet School (GEMS) hosted their largest event and biggest fundraiser last Friday at their annual Hoot Hike. Thankfully the rain held off and the kids and their parent(s) were able to explore all of the learning stations, participate at the activity centers, and roast marshmallows at the bonfire to top off their evening!

A few Awaken friends teamed up with GEMS parents, staff, and Heritage Middle School students to man the stations. One was the “Milk Mustache Photo Shoot”, where kids lined up to pose with their own milk mustache for an internal campaign reminding kids the importance of drinking milk. Another station was “The 100-Mile Challenge” which credited kids for taking a 1.5 mile hike around GEMS, and getting that much closer to the challenge of running/walking 100 miles this school year. This is a new initiative started by Jo, the extremely energetic phy-ed teacher who has put in 17 year and counting at GEMS and loves to see kids develop healthy habits of staying active.

Some of the other learning stations included recycling lessons, where kids got to practice putting items in the correct bins, and a student lead-table that showed kids small science experiments with rocks and minerals. The list continues with Frisbee golf, biking obstacle courses, hula-hoops, dance parties (these kids have moves!) and the concessions stand, where all of the kids were given a meal token to enjoy hot dogs, popcorn, and the works.

As GEMS has an increasingly high number of students learning English as a second language, it was a blast to see the interactions between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking families, and how much fun everyone was having despite the sometimes evident language barrier. It is inspiring to see the passion and perseverance of a school like GEMS continue to press in to educating their students to live healthy and environmentally aware lifestyles, all while having a “hoot” of a time.

Kiah at the Milk Mustache Station

Kiah at the Milk Mustache Station

student dance party

student dance party

learning rocks and minerals

learning rocks and minerals

recycling station

recycling station

Jo checking in hikers from the 100-milechallenge

Jo checking in hikers from the 100-milechallenge