Team USA, Day 9: A Different Kind of Independence Day

Today was my favorite 4th of July I’ve ever experienced. Instead of going to the beach or a park, we went to Pacific Gardens Mission. Many of those who are in or who have completed the New Day program (rehab and Biblical study) work at the mission, and since we have been working mostly in the kitchen, we get to see most of the same people each time we go.

For the 4th of July, PGM threw a massive block party for the residents and visitors! They had a huge barbecue, Sno-Cones, Bags (or “Cornhole,” depending on where you’re from!), face painting, basketball, a bouncy castle and water slide, down a Christian rapper! Over the past 9 days, members of our group have served here five times, so in a way, it really is starting to feel like we are going there to work with friends, and today it felt more like a family party to me than anything. Now when I walk in the door, people greet me by name with hugs and high fives.

Our team helped to get ready by decorating the street and preparing the food. Once the party started, some served Sno-Cones, some showed off their mad art skills doing face painting, but many took the opportunity just to visit with the people around us. Everywhere I looked, there were conversations going on, some serious, some lighthearted, but what really stood out to me was that for this afternoon, we were all just doing life together, enjoying the beautiful weather, food, and fun. Residents, Program members and graduates, security guards, staff, and volunteers teamed up for an all-day Bags tournament, went to get each other food and Sno-Cones, challenged each other to basketball, and learned each others’ life stories.


Today, it didn’t matter who you were. We were all human. We were all family. We all served, and were served. I think today I got a little taste of what Heaven will be like.


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