From a summer in Memphis.
I remember the last time I stolled the streets of Binghampton. I was in high school on my fourth mission trip with Service Over Self (SOS). My church group and I had crossed the state line to spend a week serving in one of the most well-known, and also one of the poorest, neighborhoods in Memphis. I remember looking at our homeowner’s house for the last time as our van pulled away, taking a moment to admire the new shingles that would now keep the home safe and dry.
I remember this feeling. Kind of that inner swell you feel when your dad smiles at you after your team won a softball game or when you walk across the stage at your high school graduation and feel the joy of your family and friends pushing you forward. It was kind of like that, but I don’t think it was pride in a job well done. No, I think that emotion I felt driving away from a community that is being revitalized shingle by shingle comes from the knowledge I, in a small way, helped further a mission far bigger than myself.
Tomorrow, I’ll find myself on the sidewalks of Binghampton again. I’ll be one of 45 college students working full time at SOS this summer, a job I have been dreaming of since junior high. I’ll be working on one house and with one homeowner in the Binghampton community throughout the summer to transform the neighborhood and empower the people in it.
I still can’t believe they hired me. I’m incredibly nervous. But I also feel that same swell again. You see, Binghampton is a broken spot right in the heart of Memphis. It has been for a while. But SOS and others who feel the call are working with the community to change that. Sure, this summer I’ll be working to give someone in Binghampton a roof that doesn’t leak, windows that aren’t broken and a foundation that won’t shake. But more than that, I’ll be putting all I am into one small part of this beautiful, incredibly large picture that’s unfolding.
By building relationships with the people of Binghampton, I get the amazing opportunity to help them revitalize their community. In return, they and everyone I encounter through SOS will teach me more about humility, faith and hope than I have ever learned. I’m incredibly blessed to call Binghampton my home for the summer. I can’t wait to walk on those streets come tomorrow.