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Guatemala 2018

Flying back!

We are boarding our flight to Milwaukee pretty soon and are excited to be coming home tonight.

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Our Last Day

Tonight is our last night in Washington D.C. and tomorrow we will be back in Oshkosh. So much has happened in the last week since our arrival and we have been forever impacted by what we experienced while volunteering. In addition, we have all formed so many new friendships that I hope last a lifetime. Each and every one of us has been touched by the men we have met and the staff at the Father McKenna Center. They generously shared their stories with us and took the time to get to know us as well. Their encouraging words have made us want to continue our volunteer work and hopefully we can use what we learned here to better our own community. Today it was hard saying goodbye to the people we met and many of us had tears in our eyes. I know without a doubt that we have made a difference here and are much wealthier because of our experience. It is my hope that we are able to inspire others to volunteer, continue our own volunteering work in our community and never forget about those in need. Today we have realized that the most important thing is to let people know they are not invisible, that someone cares about them and that a simple “Hello, how are you?” can change someones day.

Until next time,
Sara

P.S We would also like to give a big thanks to all the moms and dads that have been faithfully following our blog, also to everyone else who had been reading about our trip, and all the people that sent us letters of encouragement. Your support means a lot.

Here are some pictures from today.

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All Day Cooking Fest

Today we spent the entire day at Father McKenna Center and there was a lot going on. Right when we woke up around 7am some of us went to the kitchen and started getting breakfast, coffee and tea ready to be served. A lot of men stopped by to have a meal and escape the cold. Right after we cleaned up it was time to start the prep work for lunch. We made spaghetti, tomato sauce with sausage, salad and served some fruit as well. At noon about 40 men came to get a meal. However, before eating they spent an hour in a meeting getting to know some of our group members. They shared their stories and really opened up. When lunch was over we got a break. Around 3pm some of us helped prepare personal meals that we packed into boxes for about 50 people that get their meals delivered. After that was done we got to relax and talk to Tom who is the man in charge here at the shelter. He was kind enough to share many stories about the people he has met and how he got to have the job at the Father McKenna Center. Once that was done it was time for more kitchen work and some of us helped set up and serve dinner. We also ate dinner with the men that came in and had some wonderful conversations. Then we had our nightly reflection and talked about the men we met and talked to today. Many of them made an impact on us and changed our perspective about certain things. We all feel so grateful that we have gotten the chance to be here, serve, and make life changing connections with people we have come to know. Everyone is sad that tomorrow will be our last day volunteering before we head home on Saturday. This is why we plan to make tomorrow count and work extra hard.

Until next time,
Sara

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Me checking in on the tomato sauce and sausage.

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Ashley and Ashley doing some dishes.

Already Day 5!

Today our day started around 8am with the tour of the Capitol building. The intern from Senator Ron Johnson’s office took us to the building and gave us passes so we could also see the House of Representatives and the Senate. We got to sit in the Senate and listen in for about half an hour. Sadly there was little Hong on and the few Senators we did see in there were not doing much. After we left the Capitol building some of us went to the Library of Congress and got to see some amazing books such as the first printed Bible. Our last stop was the Supreme Court. We were all so excited that we actually got to go in and see where it all happens. We were in there for about 30 minutes and got a mini lesson on how the court operates.

Around 2pm we made is back to the Father McKenna Center and got ready to prepare and serve the Peace Meal around 5pm. Many of us cooked and served the food until about 7pm. We served well over a hundred men, women, and children who are able to come for the meal every Wednesday. Here are some pictures of Chelsie and Nicole getting the food ready. Chelsie made the mashed potatoes and Nicole packed some trail mix into bags.

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After dinner we spent some time with the now familiar faces that are at the shelter. Before bed we also had a reflection meeting where many said today was a hard day because we saw so many people at the shelter among which were children. Nonetheless, we felt like we made a difference no matter how small.

Until tomorrow,
Sara

If only there were more hours in a day!

Today was a long day for our group. We left the Father McKenna Center before 9am and returned after 9pm. Right in the morning we got ready for our meeting with Senator Tammy Baldwin. We got to meet her and talk about some of the issues that affect the homeless population. Our meeting was short but meaningful. After that we had lunch and were on our way to Food & Friends were we packed meals for people with hiv/aids, cancer and other illnesses. Everyone was really impressed with the way this organization runs and how much gets done. Here is a picture of us eating some of the cookies we made.

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After work was done we headed to see some monuments we had yet to see. First was the White House where we took a lot of pictures and were on the lookout for the president. Then we walked to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

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The Lincoln Memorial was close by so we got a chance to see that as well and take a walk by the National Mall. There was a lot of picture taking going on so we were happy that it was sunny outside and not raining like yesterday.

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At the end of the National Mall was the WW2 Memorial that we also walked through. At this point it was 6pm and everyone was hungry. We found an Italian place with amazing food and huge portion sizes so everyone was satisfied. Some of us got lasagna, pennines, pizza and calzones. It was late by the time we got done eating so we got on the metro and went home around 9pm. We didn’t have time to have our nightly reflections meeting because everyone was tired and we wanted to spend some time with the men who are at the shelter. Now its bed time and another day in Washington awaits us tomorrow.

Until next time,
Sara

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Nicole with her plate of cheesy bread that everyone munched on.

First Day at Work

Today was our first official day volunteering. We got up around 7am and headed over to the Capitol Area Food Bank. Most of the day was spent sorting and packing food and everyone got a good workout. We also got to meet some great people that work at the Food Bank and found out how the organization operates. By the time we got done volunteering it was 4pm and raining. On our way back to the metro station we met a local resident that was a very talented guitar player so everyone sang along while he played popular songs by artists like Adele. After the jam session we had to go grocery shopping to get more supplies for the rest of the week. Right now most of us are taking a break before dinner and reflections. There is a few people also hanging out with the people that are currently at the shelter. Here is a group picture of us with all the boxes we packed.

Until tomorrow,
Sara

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Sightseeing!

Our group has had an extremely adventures day but the highlight was most defiantly our visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. We got up extra early so we could get in line to get our tickets and were able to enter the exhibit by 10:30 am. We spent about two and a half hours inside exploring and reading the stories of the Holocaust victims. It was an emotional experience for many of us. Below is a picture of one of the rooms inside of the exhibit that featured four walls with hundreds of pictures.

 

After we got done at the Holocaust Museum everyone headed to the Smithsonian Castle and we ate lunch there. After lunch we split into groups and everyone headed to different surrounding Smithsonian museums. My group went to the Natural History Museum, and the American Art Museum. The other groups went to the White House, Art and Space Museum and the African Art Museum. Below is a picture in front of the Natural History Museum.
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After hours of exploring we all met up again and headed to Union Station Shops in hopes of finding a McDonalds and getting some shamrock shakes. Once we finally found one they sadly told us they were out. So that is when we headed home. Now Max, Jess, Crystal and Ashley are getting ready to make tacos for dinner and after we will have out nightly reflections before going to bed.

Until tomorrow,
Sara

Our new view!

 

We have settled in at the Father McKenna Center and even got a chance to explore some parts of the city while going grocery shopping earlier in the day. The above picture shows the view of the Capitol building that we get to see from our street each day for the next week. Everyone is very excited to start our volunteer work first thing Monday morning. Since it has been a long day we plan to relax and reflect on everything we have seen and experienced today.

Until tomorrow,
Sara

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