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Service to Others – St. Nick’s News June 14, 2024

Full St. Nick’s News for June 14, 2024

Dear friends,

We had a wonderful trip to Austin this week. Jeremy, Jena, and I were blessed to take nine youth to serve at El Buen Samaritano an outreach center in South Austin, offer a mini-VBS offering at Jubilee Episcopal Church, and tour Camp Esperanza – a part of The Other Ones Foundation.

On our first full day, we learned about the barriers and hardships people are facing when it comes to rising house prices, food insecurity, and making ends meet. El Buen provides healthy food to families through their drive thru pantry and a mobile pantry in areas in East Austin. They also provide education enrichment for children and youth, medical clinics, and financial and social services. Our youth toured the facility and helped serve 300 people by packing groceries this week. They worked hard and one of our youth shared, “We should do this at our church. People need help.” He and I shared dreams of getting a few more acres and building an outreach center at St. Nicks. After we spent time dreaming God’s dreams, I reminded us that we have Provisions Outreach right next door and we can help them just like we are helping El Buen.

We also had an afternoon of learning about barriers people have when they don’t have cars. The youth were challenged to navigate to different landmarks in Austin via walking, riding the bus, or taking the train. They had to work together to figure out a plan for the afternoon and were able to see sites in Austin and learn how to use their phones as a resource for travel. They did a great job figuring out the bus and rail in Austin!

On the second day we were able to meet up with Jubilee Episcopal Church Plant and offer a mini-VBS to their littles. Being a new church, the gathering was small but whenever two or three are gathered – God is in the midst of us. Our youth told the creation story, played a creation game, and helped with art work. We also were able to worship together at Jubilee and present our PrayGround Gifts to Lizzie, the Vicar of Jubilee. In the afternoon we went to Deep Eddy to swim. We also watched the bats at the Congress Street bridge in the evening.

On our third and last day, we helped out at El Buen in the morning and then went to tour the Esperanza Community. This community used to be a homeless encampment but has been turned into a emergency homeless non-congregate shelter. That is to say, Texas Department of Transportation (TXDot) and The Other Ones Foundation have partnered to turn land in East Austin into a community shelter where each individual has their own tiny home space with access to showers, bathrooms, medical services, laundry services, and social services. The work they are doing is AMAZING and our youth learned about the importance of respecting the dignity of all persons as they heard about the needs of Austin’s homeless population.

One of the most profound moments on Wednesday was when David Gomez, The director of outreach and diversion, asked our youth if they knew what it means to have Grace. He explained to them that Grace is when your life is in a storm and someone comes along to help. When you are the person helping, the feeling you get inside is one of holding a newborn baby or a new puppy – pure joy. Helping people brings us God’s Grace. We get the gift when we help others. What a beautiful lesson for all of us. We get the gift of God’s Grace when we help others…

Thank you for your prayers for our youth and for their leaders. We hoped and prayed to have a time of fun, friendship, learning, and serving. Our goals were met. We are overjoyed at the work the Lord is doing in and through our youth. They are kind, compassionate, and funny people who care about the world and one another. They are, most certainly full of God’s Grace and God’s love.

God’s Peace, Love, and Blessings,