Fall Break. A normal weekend (with a couple of extra days) that marks the halfway point in the semester. Many students take the opportunity to go home and visit family or hang around campus to catch up on homework and much needed sleep. Nevertheless, this was not the case for the 33 Vandy students who journeyed to Atlanta for Fall SPOTS (Special Project Other Than Summer).
We left campus Wednesday evening for Atlanta and returned Sunday afternoon. The trip down was a bit long. We hit traffic in multiple cities, and the bus didn't arrive at Park Avenue Baptist Church until after 1 a.m. EST. After a short debrief, we all went to bed and were up for breakfast at 8 a.m. the next morning.
Thursday marked the beginning of our work with Park Avenue. Students were able to choose from two different module options: Poverty Through the Eyes of a Child or Race and Reconciliation. Each module consisted of a time of learning about an issue in Atlanta and also a hands-on service opportunity. I was in the Poverty Through the Eyes of a Child group, and we discussed everything from illiteracy to the challenge people in poverty face to how the same issues are present back in Nashville where we live.
After the learning portion of the day, our group went upstairs to where the church holds their after school program to help organize and clean. A major component of that project was the library. As we put books on shelves...and eventually decided to reorganize the whole collection of 1000+ books....we all reminisced about our favorite childhood books and the countless books that were read to us. It made us think about how blessed we are to have had people in our lives who invested in us. We were reminded that that is not the case for every child. What really drove these ideas home for me, is the time I got to spend serving at the Stewart Center (an after school program that Park Avenue Baptist Church partners with) the next day. Sitting down with a second grader who couldn't read or spell the simplest words was heart breaking but it felt right to being doing something about the problem. Reading with her didn't change the illiteracy statistics in Atlanta, but the hope is that I got to be a small part of the impact the Stewart center is seeking to make in the individual lives of children in the area. In the words of Mother Teresa, "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
The rest of the trip consisted of more modules on Friday and Saturday, exploring the city of Atlanta, and attending the Park Avenue Baptist service on Sunday morning. Fall SPOTS 2015 was an unforgettable trip full of bonding, laughter, delirious nights working in the library, and cookie dessert. It's hard to believe that it is already over but we eagerly await our Spring trips and how God is going to work. Stay tuned for more information about Spring SPOTS 2016!
Lots of Love,