By Jamie Starr
Today was our first day back at work after an absolutely crazy weekend in St. Louis. We enjoyed several adventures during our short trip to Springfield, IL and the ‘Lou: Visiting the Lincoln Library, exploring Forest Park (where we relaxed with peaceful meditation), venturing to the top of the Gateway Arch, and climbing around the very eccentric City Museum.
Our immediate reaction was sadness and frustration over the loss of nearly every possession we brought with us for the summer. But, in the end, I think the incident actually brought us much closer together as a group. We all supported each other with hugs and encouraging words. As we tried to process what just happened, Misha (one of our staffers) led us all to get smoothies at a local shop and then to a (not so good – St. Louis style pizza…?) pizza dinner. By the end of the day, we were completely drained, and ended up staying an extra night at a Holiday Inn in St. Louis.
While the experience was definitely not ideal, I think we all learned a lot about ourselves and our inner strength, both individually and as a group. We learned how to put things in perspective, even going so far as to sympathize with the robbers, who we can only hope will use our stuff to turn their lives around.
Now, as our second week in Louisville comes to a close, I feel as though there’s been a shift in the group. Before St. Louis, we were a cohesive unit who worked well and had fun together. Now, we’re becoming more and more like a family. We have lifted each other up, and I know my new AJSS family is helping to make me the best person I can be. Being around such supportive, kind, caring and hardworking people 24/7 for 14 days has had such a big impact on me already – I can’t even imagine what will happen in the next four weeks.
Through all the tough, uncomfortable times, these guys have made this the best summer of my life, and this is after just two weeks! I’m so excited to continue doing service work and having fun on the nights and weekends, but more than anything, I’m just really looking forward to spending the rest of my Summer of Service growing even closer with my AJSS family.