This week I learned so much about people experiencing homelessness. We often see them as lazy or people who made bad decisions, but this isn’t true.
We had the opportunity to do a poverty simulation and it was so hard. We had to make tough decisions, and we learned how a minimum wage isn’t always a living wage and how high the prices are in places like D.C. Immediately my “older brother” had to drop out of college; we didn’t even think twice about it. My “twin sister” and I were 13. We couldn’t be on our own and spent all of our school time planning. Our father was in jail and we were alone. Our “baby brother” cost so much. Halfway through the simulation, my “twin sister” was expelled from school and a lot of our neighbors were evicted and had to live with us. I felt stressed and like a burden to my family. There was no time for our family to actually spend quality time together. People experiencing homelessness are often considered rude, but when you are constantly worried about just getting through the week, you have to yell at the bank worker, not pay attention in school or be late to work because you have to buy a transportation ticket you are just now able to afford, to get there.
Throughout the week after the simulation, I started thinking about people experiencing homelessness in every situation and how fortunate I am. The heat was unbearable. Sometimes it felt like 104 degrees. I can’t imagine someone living in that with no relief in sight. I learned how a fresh pair of socks could mean so much. I learned how good it felt for them to just have someone say your name rather than pass by without even looking you in the eye. I learned how I have been wrong, that if you can’t give money, you can give your time by talking to people experiencing homelessness. This mission trip will change me forever.
For my reflection I did it on what things impacted me:
One of the things was how nice and friendly the homeless people were. It was so unsettling that these people have so many problems and yet are so happy.
We did a poverty simulation and in my group of family was my mom and sister, because Dad left us with ten dollars. The simulation was so stressful and angering. We knew it wasn’t reality, but we still felt stressed.
One thing that hit me hard was the Holocaust Museum. It gave me this empty feeling and there was a different section on Syria. We talked about it that night and I said that there is so much violence and death in Syria, it’s not even news anymore and yet no one does anything.
Going to Washington, D.C. has been an amazing experience. I believe that through our workshop, simulation, and personal experiences that we as a group have grown mentally and grown in God. One of my most memorable experiences this week has been the poverty simulation. The poverty simulation really showed what people experiencing homelessness and poverty deal with every day. There are so many stereotypes describing people living without a home or dealing with poverty as lazy, mentally ill, and having poor priorities. The reality of it is so much different – many don’t make a living wage, living in a home is expensive, travel is difficult, and many don’t know the benefits that are available to them. During these situations, things can decline very quickly. After this week’s experiences, I have learned to be open-minded, and that I have many things to be grateful for in life.
During our week in D.C. I learned and experienced many things that change the way I view the world.
Handing out care packages to men experiencing homelessness made me realize the fear and discomfort I was feeling was due to stereotypes I heard growing up.
I saw God in the workers at kitchens we volunteered at. They were all so patient and kind, even though their daily work is combating such a huge issue of poverty and homelessness.
Overall, this trip leaves me with the knowledge that poverty and homelessness is an issue that everyone should want to end and work towards that common goal.
This week has caused me to feel many emotions. Empathy, hope, sadness, and disappointment are only a few of those emotions. I felt empathetic for the less fortunate and those experiencing homelessness. I felt hope when I listened to John’s and James’ stories. Sadness when I saw the Holocaust Museum and disappointment because of how everyone reacted to the Holocaust and now during the Syrian refugee crisis/war. I learned so much about poverty, homelessness, and the Holocaust.
I enjoyed everyone who came on this trip. We shared many laughs and tears. We had very great discussions and talked about numerous things. Everyone was funny, kind, and friendly.
The most important thing that I learned from this is that God will overcome and He is always with you. At the Holocaust Museum, it was crazy to think about how people being slaughtered and sent to their death knew that God was still with them. Also, when experiencing homelessness, one may feel unloved and alone, so it is important for them to always know that they are not alone. God will never forget you.
Many words or thoughts have been spoken by many, including myself, about people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Most of the time they are words that speak a story created in our own mind. Who of us would appreciate someone telling a negative story of us without ever meeting us. Words like lazy, poor priorities, mentally ill, addicts, etc. These are words spoken of people of homelessness and poverty. Through our experience, we learned the truth about this problem people experience. The top five causes are never the stories we tell. As people of God, who are called to love our neighbors. We need to seek to know people so that we can be empathetic and show God’s love.