Packing up once again, Site 1 was on the move Tuesday night (Oct 8) to their fourth location for an urban plunge in the inner city of Winnipeg at the Vineyard church. From doing SOAR Heartland, it was my third time doing something like this in my city. I’ve realised that each time I’m back in the North End I grow to love it more and more. This city has so much to offer, along with so much to learn from. It is evident that God is at work here in the North End. We started with a learning tour on Wednesday, which consisted of walking around the inner city, talking to people on the street and going to various places to hear speakers talk about different issues such as gangs, prostitution, immigration and some others. Many of us met a man named John on the street that day; although I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting him, I’m pretty sure he had a good day. My group of three for the learning tour didn’t even finish by five o’clock, as we spent so much time talking to people on the street, they just have so much to teach you about the area. One of my friends made a comment that she didn’t think it would take long to know everyone in the North End. The community is so strong that everyone knows everyone, I even ran into someone that I talked to by a mural a second time coming out of Young’s grocery store. For dinner the first night we had as much money as someone on the street might have for dinner, only three dollars, combined nine bucks between each group of 3.This taught us the struggle of managing money while still trying to maintain a healthy diet. Some, such as myself, realised you can get quite full off of just this little amount of money.
The next two days consisted of ministry assignments with packed lunches as we set out to learn about different organizations and what they’re doing. One of these was Flatlanders, located directly above the Vineyard church on Main Street. Flatlanders is an intentional Christian community living at affordable pricing. We were all given a tour of the two floors of this living space; to see all that the Vineyard church is doing is incredible. You can drive around the North End and see people smoking, standing on street corners, asking for money, or you can look past those external actions to see the struggle and understand where they are coming from. No one decides to suddenly live this way for the fun of it. I believe that having the background knowledge of the residential schools helped us understand this fact a bit more, as did talking with the people on the street about their lives. They were all very open to share about what they have gone through.
Culture isn’t dead; God is working in so many ways. We experienced the reality of brokenness by seeing faces to the numbers we hear so much about. People are working to restore relationships with the natives and the poor. Everyone has a story worth hearing. No matter how small a deed it never goes unnoticed by someone in the community. The “lost” and “broken” can teach us a lot about how lost and broken we are as well. These are just some responses we had when asked what we learned during the Urban Plunge, and we only spent three days here. In such a small amount of time God has shown us so much that we can take home with us, and there is so much more we can learn still if we had more time.
Check back next week to hear how Girls and Guys Week went!