This week I have been in a neighborhood in Shreveport, Louisiana, called Allendale. A few years ago a few young men in the People of Praise did some research and praying for where God would like for them to spend their energy and help usher in his kingdom. They settled on Allendale, one of the poorest places in the country, and there has been an ever-increasing presence here, being and bringing Jesus Christ to a struggling people. Just a few pages with snippets of the Allendale work are here, here, here.
As an inadequate summary of the week, I'm just going to briefly describe the pattern of life, and what I did each day beyond the pattern. All of the local full-time employees of One:Ten, except me, are members of the new Work College in South Bend. It's a collection of undergrads, recent grads, an older single, and a largish family, that share a large part of their life together, meeting together for most dinners, praying together, learning together, playing together, and working together. The Work College decided that those who were able to would spend a week together in Allendale, with the folks living down there.. another group of singles plus an older couple and a younger couple.
I had been hearing a lot about Allendale, but had never been here. So when these plans came about, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along even though I am not a member of the Work College. Our offices are on the Work College campus, but I am a member of the Havard household in Mishawaka. So the plan for One:Ten was to join in the trip to Allendale, but simply share in the life while spending the workday still doing normal One:Ten work. This consists of morning prayer with everyone, a simple breakfast, personal prayer, workday, lunch with everyone, workday, dinner with everyone, and then various evening activities throughout the week. I'll primarily be listing the evening activities.
The road trip down from South Bend was an adventure in itself. It's 15 or 16 hours, and we have enough people to fill 3 minivans - 17 total I think. A few others flew in due to scheduling. The drive passed in 3-4 hour increments, with drivers rotating each time and people jumping between cars. We stopped for a catfish dinner just before we arrived on Sunday evening.
Monday morning was the only morning that I did PT - physical training. Some continued through the week. We did a push-up ladder, sit-ups, and a fast, kinda hilly, 1.5 miles. That evening, Nathan gave a talk on conversations and openness and how we love each other through that. After, Ricky Thomas gave me a running tour of Shreveport, about 5 miles. I was worried I would be tired and sore all week! :)
Tuesday evening is Allendale's evening for men's and women's groups, and we all joined them. The men gathered briefly as a group, broke up for 20 minutes of missionary prayer, and then in groups of ~4, we went to a couple of emergency room waiting rooms and similarly struggling areas of Shreveport so that we could make ourselves available for one-on-one prayer with people. I went to the LSU hospital, where the waiting room was packed, and had the opportunity to pray with two separate guys who had each been waiting all day to be treated for seizures. The product of my just-prior prayer time was that God wanted people to simply know how much he loves them, and the Our Father. After about an hour, we returned home and all the guys gathered together and each briefly debriefed.
Wednesday evening is Allendale's chores night, and with the extra numbers here for the week, we were able to help them get more done than they could themselves. I worked in the room where we've been having most of our meals.. floor, and windows, with Ricky, and after that we snuck out before the ice cream party to get another run in. Right at the very end of it, he was telling me how he has never had ankle problems, when he twisted it. The following morning we prayed over his foot, and also Cathy's, at morning prayer.
Thursday evening is Allendale's off night where they either gather for a meeting just amongst themselves, or spend time with just themselves, strengthening relationships that can be strained amongst all the work they are immersed in with so many people. The Work College decided to have a meeting during this time, which left me the odd man out. The Allendale folks were just hanging out together playing board games, listening to music, surfing the internet, and they invited me to join them for that.
Friday evening... I'm typing this right before dinner! After dinner the plan is to have a full-fledged prayer meeting followed by a party. In the morning, the Work College - and I - are back on the road! Funny, I'm not anxious about the road trip at all. :)
I've tagged all of the pictures taken by various people on various Flickr accounts under the tag "allendale-work-college-january-2008". Enjoy! A more personal account would I'm sure have been more valuable to many of you, but I was able to hammer it out quickly this way, and hopefully give those I don't see very frequently a glimpse of my week!