This reflection is written by Kyle Bradshaw, Trinity Youth Ministry Coordinator.
Peering around the circle where we stood at Venture Apartments in South Tacoma, the students wore visible signs of the hard work they had just completed: blue latex gloves from picking up trash around the complex, dirty knees from raking and stooping in the dirt to pick up leaves, and mustard smears on sleeves from our sandwich assembly line at Nativity House earlier in the day.
Justin Mootz, our host for this second and final stop in our day of service stood across the circle from me and introduced us to one of the tenants of the apartments and a friend of the Mootz’s. Justin asked her questions and translated for us from Spanish explaining that she had been awake for over 36 hours, working several different jobs in order to provide for her family. Then she began to pray for our team and gave us a blessing. I was humbled and amazed at the generosity within this woman. She had been working nonstop and rather than coming back and going straight to bed she took the time to meet with our group and bless us.
On Saturday, I was reminded of the importance of service-learning. These service outing find their true value in the hyphen between service and learning. The service we completed on Saturday is not nearly as valuable if not paired with the opportunity to learn from the stories this woman shared with us or from Bill Bruno at Nativity House who took us around the shelter while sharing stories and breaking down stigmas behind homelessness
At the same time learning propels us towards service. Justin and Amanda Mootz invited us into their apartment to teach us about many of the challenges people living in poverty face in their community. With this new knowledge fresh in our minds we stepped outside to try and make the apartment a little bit more of a beautiful place. I’m proud of our students for raking leaves and wearing mustard on sleeves and for their commitment to service-learning.