Washington DC Was Special

Do you remember traveling somewhere that had an impact on you? Maybe it was the first time you left the city you grew up in. Maybe it was your first airplane ride. Maybe it was a small town in a far away country. Regardless, seeing how other people live and do things can have a profound impact on us.

We had the privilege of taking 15 kids (from two of our communities) all the way to Washington DC. The experience was exhausting, but worth every bit to see the kids capacity for dreaming expand. So, what was the profound impact the trip had on these kids? Keep reading!

On Day 1 we walked over 7 miles (according to an iPhone). We saw the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Touring the African American History Museum was an amazing experience. Our kids felt affirmed and connected to significant contributions in our nation's history. See two videos at the bottom of our time at the African American Museum.

On Day 2 we started at the American Studies Program. The kids learned about colleges and career paths, and they heard from two young people with similar stories to their own, who were now working in DC. Again, the capacity to dream was expanding! We took public transit everywhere, and the kids took turns navigating the group. We went through historic Union Station and made a stop at Ebenezer's Coffee House. Then, we finished the day at the National Harbor for dinner, an outdoor movie, and the Ferris wheel.

Ebenezer's is a significant part of this story. In 2016 we read a book as a staff team called Dar the Circle by Mark Batterson. In short, he calls the reader to listen to God's voice and pray in to what you hear. We saw some amazing answers to prayer in 2016, and we decided to do this again in 2017. We began praying for this trip about 6 months ago. All we had were 20 tickets to the African American History Museum, which we happened in to. We prayed and prayed, and things continued to fall in to place. We are still waiting on some final pieces (even now, after the trip), but the hand of God in this was evident to our entire time. So, when we took the kids to get a cup of coffee, we paused to let them know that they were literally standing in an answered prayer. It was a very special moment!

On Day 3 we had breakfast with a judge and learned about her career. Then, we headed to the Capitol building, and we finished the day at the Truckeroo food truck festival at the Navy Yard. After that, the guys and girls split up and had separate outings. We had a fun moment with the boys as they learned about tipping their waitress!

On Day 4 we enjoyed a free day. The group decided to visit the National Zoo and do some shopping.

Throughout the trip there were some neat things going on: each night we came together to talk through 1 Peter 2:9. We focused on Identity and Influence - we must know who we are in order to make the impact God has for us. In several conversations with some of the kids, we could see them begin to step in to who they are (who God says they are, their history, etc.), and as they did they better understood the importance of their contribution to this world. See a video of Kea Westbrook teaching below. Another neat practice we did was budgeting and accounting. The kids managed their own funds for food each day ($40). They had to keep their receipts and at the end of each day they documented their spending, attached receipts, and turned in any left over funds. On the final day, if they did this correctly each day, they received an extra $20 for shopping! See a picture of some of the girls!

This was quite an amazing experience for this group of kids. At the end, as we asked about what was most impactful, there were two consistent answers: flying on an airplane (which took lots of courage for many!) and the food we were able to eat! The simplicity of those answers is wonderful.

Will Dowell