Sunday, July 19, 2015

Last Day! :( Sunday, July 19

Some of the group began the day with a third breakfast at the Clique Restaurant.  The few who didn’t want to wake up at 6am slept in a little later and had breakfast in the hotel with Mindy.  
We all wanted mustaches since Stefan's got so much attention! 

After breakfast, we walked to Ford Field for Sunday morning worship.  It was amazing having a church service with a congregation of 30,000.  We were blessed with the opportunity to listen to Bishop Eaton’s sermon in which she related the Bible verses to our experience in Detroit. 

One of our favorite speakers from an earlier event at Ford Field, an amazing poet, Natasha T Miller, returned to read another of her poems.  

Natasha T Miller
Inside Ford Field

At the end of the service we helped reveal that the next Gathering will be held in Houston.
After the worship service, Mr. Datte led us over to Comerica Stadium for the Tigers vs. Orioles baseball game. 
It was so hot that the ice cream was steaming! 
The baseball park has a ferris wheel and a merry-go-round. 
We all got baked in the sun and the Tigers lost 3 to 9, but the amazing Greek food we had for dinner in Greektown made up for it.  Everyone loved the saganaki(flaming cheese appetizer) and the baklava we had for dessert.  We wanted to say thank you again to Mr. Datte for taking his time to meet us here and show us some great places we couldn’t have found otherwise.  It was such a blessing to have a native show us around.

When we got back to the hotel we talked about our high’s and low’s of the trip:

High’s: Motown concert and museum, the gratefulness of the people of Detroit, the service project, meeting new people, and growing closer within our group

Low’s: heat and humidity, trumpet horns

Overall, this trip was such an incredible experience.  We have all grown closer with each other and with God.  Despite the negative reputation of Detroit, our time here has shown us that it is a wonderful city and all of the people here are so kind.

We couldn’t have gone on this trip without the support of everyone in the congregation, so THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Olivia and Sonia

Proclaim Justice! (Saturday, July 18)

Today was a very important and highly anticipated day on our Detroit trip, our service project day.

We woke up early this morning and quickly made our way to meet up with everybody else that intended to proclaim justice.
 After a short dance party in a plaza square, we, a few other groups, and our servant companion, Meghan, set out on a short bus ride. Our destination was Osborn, a battered neighborhood where we helped board up abandoned houses, paint those boards, and removed overgrown greens.

After our completing service projects, we went back to our hotel rooms and hung out. After our break, we left for the nightly program at Ford Field. The whole crowd was very excited. Tonight we listened to some inspirational speakers, some amazing artists, and it was all wrapped up by a hardcore rock band called Skillet that really got the crowd pumped up. 

To end the day, we had an insightful discussion about the day’s happenings and about how we affected the people in this community, and how the project affected us.

All in all, today was a very good day that produced some very good experiences. Everybody had fun today, knowing that our service was a huge hit with the community as they were all very grateful and kind.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Was Amazing!

Hello, Incarnation Lutheran! 

Today, we started our day yet again with the famous Clique Diner for breakfast. Following this, we met Darryl Datte, a generous current Incarnation member, for a personal tour of Detroit. 

Together, we learned about Motown while at the historic Motown Museum, seeing such artifacts as Michael Jackson’s glove and hat. In addition, we viewed the ivory piano, one that was paid to be refurbished by the famous Paul McCartney. Plus, we visited Studio A, where Motown artists recorded their uplifting music. 

Afterwards, we tried the world-famous Coney Island hot dogs. 

Finally, we closed the night with the Ford Field Gathering. Here, we heard sermons about building bridges. We came to understand that whether these bridges be between races, religions, or social classes, we need to overcome our differences in order to develop a worldwide relationship with God. 

At the Gathering, we were treated with a very special surprise: four original Motown singers, including two Temptations, one Four Top, and one Miracle. They sang renditions of their own songs and covers of others including the Jackson 5. At the finale, we were encompassed by people carrying lanterns that created crosses and hearts. 

Just before arriving at our hotel, our youth group was stopped by an extremely enlightening couple who talked to us about how significant our journey to Detroit is, and that even if we do not see immediate results during our trip, we are benefitting this city. The whole day was truly amazing and a great experience. Up to this point each day has been getting better than the last.

Micah, Nick, Tori, and others…

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Great Thursday!

Today we tried a recommended cafe for breakfast which turned out to be very good. It is called The Hudson.  It also had a really cool art wall with graffiti style.  After we finished eating we walked straight to the COBO center and checked out the newly set up community activities rooms. 
It had a giant swing and zip line and lots of other fun activities.  

After spending a while looking at some of the stations, we ate lunch and then attended our Synod Day of learning and worship.  Both Bishops from Pacifica Synod and the Southern California Synod participated.  

After dinner we headed over to Ford Field.  They had a lot of great music and really good speakers.  We left the convention center early so we wouldn't get trampled by the crowd.  Overall it was another fun day.  

My favorite part of the gathering so far is how no matter where you're from people talk to you as is if they know you.  If you spend a little time with them by the end you feel like you've known them for a long time.  It’s amazing to come together with that many people and bond over a common belief.


Reflections on July 15 - Wednesday

Day 2 Detroit: 
Today was an overall AWESOME day. It started off with an amazing breakfast at a quaint  little dinner called The Clique Restaurant. The servers, the bus boy, and even the other patrons were so kind to us even though we were the only kids there and that really meant a lot to us.
Over-head Four Square
After a wonderful meal of deliciousness we headed down the river walk to the COBO Convention Center. There we played a really cool game of Above-the-head Four Square as well as few others. We played those for over two hours and in the midst of all that we got to meet a lot of other Lutherans and even got to know some of them a little bit  better.
For the final event of the evening, all 30k youth gathered at Ford Stadium for a 2 hour worship. All of the speakers and the band were so good and I learned a lot about Detroit, my relationship with God, and facts about the water situation in Africa. We had a ton of fun today minus being a little bit jet lagged and can't wait to see what adventures are in store for tomorrow.
Side Note:

Minnesota thinks that the word bag is pronounced “beg” and a few of us got into a heated argument with one boy about that.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Detroit 2015 - Day One!!!! Yayyyyy!!!!

     Although getting up at five in the morning was a little rough, our group of 10 was soon on its way to the airport and to Detroit!! In the Detroit airport, we were lucky enough to meet Bishop Fink who is our Bishop of the Pacifica Synod. When we told him we were from Incarnation, he immediately asked about our work in Cameroon and the mural (see pictures in the earlier posts)  which was really cool.

Incarnation Youth and Bishop Fink! 
       When we arrived, we noticed differences in the environment, economy and people of Detroit straight away. Immediately, the humidity was quite a change from what we are all used to and there was much more vegetation and biodiversity. This basically means that there was swampy land all around us and we saw a beaver!

       As we reached the city, it was strange to see bright, shiny, new buildings right next to graffitied, abandoned ones. Old brick offices with boarded up windows were across the street from nice, glass hotels like the one we are staying in. What really surprised me was that there wasn't as many homeless people on the street as we expected, because I've seen some cities where the streets are filled. It just seemed very empty.

      Everyone we've met is super nice and we hope to have a fabulous week!!!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Travel Update From Cameroon...

Well, it was a busy week for the "Dream Team"--a name given to us by our new friend, who we now refer to as The Friendly Doctor (mostly because we struggle to pronounce his real name…but also because he has a disposition like rainbows and sunshine). Our painting in the hospital was finished, and the Dispensary looked shiny and new with a fresh coat of paint and a new layer of gravel all around, so we had to find new work to do during our last week in Ngoundere. 


Scott and Elias were commissioned to create a mural on the wall of the church office on the station. Over the last few days, the boys, with the help of Catie, worked hard (despite the paint fumes) to create a beautiful scene depicting Matthew chapter 14, verse 27. And boy, is that wall a sight to see!

In that time, Catie and Maria interviewed quite a few of our Cameroonian brothers and sisters in order to determine how the church and its many institutions here work, and how our congregation, from all the way in California, can best be of help. Some of the interviewees include a retired nurse of the Protestant hospital, an educator in the Protestant school, a young student hoping to study in seminary, the Bishop, The Friendly Doctor himself, and more! We won’t give away too much, as we hope to have a video ready soon to show everyone.

 Meanwhile, with the help of the congregation, Pastor Luther was able to distribute scholarships to families, helping more than 60 children to attend school! With all this good work being done--though it never feels like quite enough--it was already time to leave.

On Friday, the Dream Team packed up and said many hard goodbyes before heading to the airport, where we waited for the staff that were late to check us in, and then again for the plane, which was hours late to arrive. But, in the words of a taxi driver who once piled seven additional people into a 5-seated car, “C’est l’Afrique”—that’s Africa. Nothing ever happens quickly, or how you expect it to.

Eventually we got to Yaounde, and enjoyed some rest and hot chocolate at the hotel. And with an artist’s touch, Scott ripped the door handle clean off the door of his room. Literally. He has since vowed to relinquish all door-opening duties to Elias henceforth and forever more--and asked reception to please replace the handle. Other than that, we’re all doing quite well, and looking forward to a relaxing weekend at the Toungou hotel in the bustling city of Yaounde. And maybe to a few more cups of that hot chocolate.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Our Incarnation Lutheran group of five spent the first few days in Cameroon recovering from our long travels. Having arrived in Yaounde, we rested, reacquainted ourselves with the delicious pastries and instant coffee, and visited a lovely chicken farm a little ways out of the city. Then we packed up and started on our way to Ngaoundere--we only hit a few bumps throughout our travels (two travelers with the same boarding pass, having to avoid questionable airplane sandwiches, being ushered off the airplane in Douala only to be ushered back on to the same plane after a long, and probably unneeded wait, surviving the sweltering heat of the unnecessarily long preflight preparations, etc). But we eventually made it. 

We arrived on the mission station to find some friendly faces, including our old friend Manu, who is now fifteen years old and much taller than we're comfortable admitting, and Sophie, who is just as lovely as ever. We are settled in nicely into a house across the street from Pastor Luther, who the children now call Papa (in reference to  his being a grandfatherly figure, which distresses him very much), and enjoying the surprisingly speedy wifi. 

Our big project for this week will be to clean up the "dispensary" (waiting room area) of the Protestant Hospital, just outside the station. Our plans are to paint the entire area--a task which we have a good portion of completed--and to lay more gravel around the sitting area's benches. It is quite an adjustment for all of us to be working in such a small group in comparison to years past, but though we are small, we are mighty, and wield our paint rollers with the strength of an entire congregation. We have been lucky enough to make friends with some delightful staff at the hospital, including an extremely cheery surgeon who has  generously shared his consultation room with us, so that we might have a place to store our paint/supplies.  

Our days here so far have been very productive, and we have a lot of exciting things  to look forward to on our schedules in the next week, including a visit to the pig farm, Saturday morning crepes with our quirky Canadian neighbors, and more! 

But for now, we are all very thankful that after our long days of work, we can return to our house, tired and very much in need of a shower, but so happy to be home. 

With love, hugs, and a cup of Necafe,

Catie, Elias, Scott, and Maria

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