Pastor of Magnolia Park United Methodist Church in Burbank, CA
This year our annual trip to SSP was a lesson in complexities simplified. Being from the Los Angeles area, choosing Imperial Beach as our location really simplified our travel plans! Once we arrived, however, complexities began to mount.
The homeowner we served, Ernie, lived in a nice neighborhood, not far from a beautiful park, community center, and two state-of-the-art schools. Many nearby homes were new; their proximity to the beach gave them extra cache. A closer look revealed a place in transition; a patchwork of homes suffering from ill-repair. Ernie, living on a fixed income, was very sick. His son, who doubled as his full-time caregiver, was in no position to do repairs. As we worked on a wheelchair ramp, we learned about the complex needs that lie just beneath a community’s surface.
“Service simplifies the complexities of life, cuts through our differences, and brings us back to our simple roots as children of God.”
Later we learned about complexities on a national scale, when we took a day trip to the US-Mexico border. There is a park where people who migrate to the US can see loved ones who were unable to make the same trip. Our youth got a taste of bitter separation when they “touched pinkies” with SSP friends on the other side. Those feelings were complicated by a visit with border patrol agents who described the rigors associated with their job of maintaining border security.
Finally, complexities multiplied when we spent quality time with friends of SSP at our community dinner. Brief encounters with residents revealed a complex mix of stories, replete with disappointments and dreams, all tied up with a bow of gratitude for the work SSP does, and to God. Our time in Imperial Beach, like all SSP times, demonstrated once again that service simplifies the complexities of life, cuts through our differences, and brings us back to our simple roots as children of God, called to love each other as Jesus loves us. Complexity made simple, SSP style!
Editor’s Note: With sadness, we share this homeowner passed away, only a few days before the ramp was completed. We pray for his family as they grieve. This article is featured in SSP’s 2018 Annual Newsletter; read all the stories written by youth volunteers, summer staff, and community members. Request a hard copy newsletter to be mailed to you.