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Until We Meet Again

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by Abbie Thiebaut Abbie is the team leader for the 6-Month Caribbean IMMERSION term that kicked off in May 2017 by serving together in Harlem, New York City.

As our time draws to a close on my third visit to Harlem (this time as part of an IMMERSION team headed to the Caribbean), I’m ready to roll out my sleeping bag and make myself at home for a few more weeks.
 Coming back to this place that taught me so much about loving people and serving has filled my heart and given the team a safe place to start our 6-month journey.

Our time has been filled with serving in the soup kitchen, getting to know the community, and doing everything we can to be an encouragement to the full time staff and volunteers that make the Salvation Army Harlem Temple such a special place.

Because of this experience, I hope we are walking away with a renewed sense of what it means to serve.

6-Month Mission Trips

During my one-on-one meetings with the team this week, this has been the focus. Each conversation has centered on the question, “How has your definition of 'service' changed in the last few weeks?”

The answers have reassured me that my friends at Harlem Temple have taught my teammates the same lesson that I have cherished so deeply from my visits with them.

Serving isn’t always about the work, it’s about your posture.

The team has laughed and repeated the phrase “I don’t know what to do with my hands” as a way to express the idea of feeling awkward or uncomfortable when there wasn’t a specific job on the schedule. But it’s these awkward moments that make or break our short time here. Simply choosing to be present in each and every moment is an act of service.

The best thing we can offer the community, the Salvation Army, and eachother is engagement. I’ve challenged the team and been challenged myself to use our downtime to have conversations, clean a window, or find a way to engage. Sometimes just choosing to journal in the common lounge area instead of tucked away in our room was a small way to engage and lead to countless conversations and requests for odd jobs.

We didn’t come here to turn around a broken ministry or eliminate poverty in 13 days. Instead, I hope we were able to be a small encouragement to a lot of people and support the already incredible work that the Salvation Army is doing here. 

6-Month Mission Trips

I don’t have it all figured out, and there’s a lot more I could say, but I will end with this: I’m incredibly thankful for the unexpected ways in which God has allowed me to serve within Harlem over the past two years and I sincerely hope I will be back again.

Until we meet again, Harlem. 

Next stop, Jamaica!

Learn more about the 6-Month Caribbean IMMERSION program!


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