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A Week in the Life: Put Down Roots 2015

“Of course, I’ll just need to grab my glasses,” Junior said, looking at me with a more-than-worried expression. I swallowed hard, and tried to look stern, playing a role I had assumed.

“For five dollars, you can buy them back from me,” I said. His eyes fell.

The Put Down Roots local mission trip team, a group of 13 young adults (mostly Whitworth students), was sitting in a downstairs meeting room at First Presbyterian Church. It was March 21, the opening day of the experience, and we had been serving together for a few hours. But now things were getting uncomfortable. I had just finished introducing a 24-hour poverty simulation activity. Previously, the students had placed all their belongings in a locked room, thinking they were being held for safekeeping. Then we split into teams, handed out play money, and covered the purpose, guidelines, and objectives of the activity. Our goal was for God to remove the blinders that keep us from truly seeing our homeless and poverty-affected neighbors through God’s eyes. In that moment Junior—an EWU exchange student from Brazil—just wanted to be able to see.

One member of each group would be truly broke: no play money at all. We would pool our resources to buy the things we’d need for the rest of the day downtown and the night outdoors, saving enough for a simple breakfast. Also, we would have to carry our belongings. Pillows didn’t make the cut. Junior decided not to buy his glasses; he made it through the experience by relying on his teammates.

For the most part, this poverty simulation was a new addition this year to the Put Down Roots local mission trip—something we picked up from Jeremiah Nealon, our partner at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Of course it had a team-building, relationship-forming effect on the group. But it also set the tone for the rest of the week. By the time we had finished worshiping at Communitas and debriefing at the Otto’s house, I could tell: we were ready. Even a small, bitter taste of injustice does wonders for the motivation to live out God’s justice in our city. So does praying and worshiping and spending time with those for whom poverty is an ongoing reality.

Moving out from the urban setting on Monday, Whitworth theology professor Dr. Jonathan Moo led us on a 6-mile hike north of Spokane. Highlights included a 45-minute ascent in silence, a history of our corner of creation and its original human inhabitants, and a devotional from Psalms. Returning to the city, Big Table’s Christopher Deitz and Kevin Finch shared vision and stories before releasing us to care for restaurant workers as we ate lunch.

Then, walking from Grant Elementary in the pouring rain, we met some friends we will never forget: the incredible kids of Liberty Park Child Development Center. They would be our after-school buddies for the week, and we would learn a lot from them (one day they led a great Bible lesson on self control) and from LPCDC Director Spencer Grainger.

The next segment of the week focused on loving our global neighbors—particularly those who have relocated to Spokane as former refugees. The team gained many new friends from Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, interacted with World Relief and Global Neighborhood, and enjoyed the blessing of a coffee devotional with FPC member Mary Beth Baker.

We rounded out our week’s activities with some good, old-fashioned work. Project Hope in West Central let us play in the dirt, weeding, clearing, pruning, building, and planting at the beginning of another season of urban gardens and youth mentoring. Habitat for Humanity hosted us once again at their major neighborhood build in Deer Park, allowing a couple of return Put Down Roots participants to see that families had moved into last year’s houses.

As we ate a last supper together at Mary Beth’s house with guest Asher Ernst, I looked around the table at the faces of our 2015 Put Down Roots team, which had become a little family. I heard the words they shared and prayed together. I saw the sleeplessness on their faces, and felt it on my own. But it was clear that something significant had happened. As we dug deep into a city full of both darkness and light, bitterness and sweetness, we had tasted and seen that the Lord is good.                                                                

—Ross Carper



Link to the Story


Put Down Roots - 2015

The 2nd Put Down Roots Spokane Urban Plunge

Building Relationships with our Sister Church in Brazil

A Visit from our Brazilian Sister Church

Remembering Dick Leon

Remembering our friend and pastor, Reverend Dick Leon

Spilling Out Into the Neighborhood

The Roosevelt Elementary Work Day and Lower South Hill Block Party - 2014 editions

The Light in Love

Westport 2013 video - what does happen at Westport?

Easter at the Carlyle

A special Easter service for 2014.

FPC Youth Serving in Our Community

Being the "sent people" of Christ in our own city

Celebrating 25 Years of Jubilee

A look back at the roots of the annual Jubilee International Marketplace

The Untold Stories of Easter Project

A glimpse into some sweet moments of Easter Project 2013

Our 30 Hour Famine Season: A 2013 Recap

SHIFT_jrhi responds to hunger in the world and a story of the people who are served

Thailand Partners

Opening of the new Women's Center and Danielle's teaching experience

Toy Store 2012

Highlights from the second annual Community Toy Store!

2013 Stewardship Video

10 minute video used during 2013 Stewardship meeting


Stories of faithfulness in the stewardship booklet

2013 Stewardship Video - Virginia Harger

Centenarian Virginia shares about her long history at FPC

2013 Stewardship Video - Dawn Sorenson

Dawn shares about connecting to FPC through MOPS

John's Five Year Anniversary

John's highlights, challenges and favorite Spokane eating!

Walk to the Water - 2012

Baptisms ... Latah Creek ... sisters/brothers/fathers/mothers/sinners ...and more

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