Flint, MI – What a way to begin the week awakening to the sound of church bells! How appropriate to start our time of service here with Mass. As we were able to meet some of the residents of Flint, it was incredible to see the community and how appreciative they were of our presence. We were approached by a woman at Mass, who without even knowing what we had or had not yet accomplished, thanked us profusely for taking our spring break to serve her community. After receiving a blessing from Father Jim and meeting up with a fellow missionary group from the University of Michigan, we made our way back to the Firestone Center where we are residing over the next week.

After some fellowship through games with each other, we had the opportunity to learn more about the community by touring Flint. It was incredibly eye-opening to see the differing aspects of the city and how it was affected by the water crisis and the loss of employment opportunities, which led to a lack of trust in the government. We were jarred by the dichotomy of wealth and poverty in the houses on either side of the street. On the wealthier side of town, the buildings were elegant and well maintained, while on the other, the buildings were boarded up, abandoned, and completely falling apart.

Despite the overwhelming odds against Flint, there is still a beacon of hope. While many may see these abandoned homes as depressing and tragic, others see them as an opportunity for change. We feel so blessed to be working with those who are working to bring about that change and rebuild the community. Even amongst the broken down buildings, how beautiful it was to look up to the sky and see the sun shining through the clouds with rays of hope. Even though we haven’t yet begun our service, our experiences today echoed the morning bells that signaled the beginning of our SOUL journey here in Flint.

Nicole Weninger, Christina Haile, and Jordan Malikowski