While a spring break “yacht” trip at another school may conjure up images of parties and frivolity on a grand boat, here at Eastern our “yachters” are looking forward to a trip of a different variety. Eastern University’s Youth Against Complacency and Homelessness Today (YACHT) club has been around since Eastern was just a college, but it is only the second year that Eastern has offered a missions trip in conjunction with YACHT Club over spring break. Although this is the first year that YACHT has officially taken charge of the trip, it will operate very similarly to last year’s trip. I spoke with Lishaly Madera, a YACHT leader who went on the trip last year and will be leading it this year along with Hannah Johnson and JC Garges. The team is comprised of 11 students, including leaders, and the trip will last the week of Feb. 28 until March 6. The team will stay on Long Island at the New York School of Urban Ministry (NYSUM) and serve with the homeless and underprivileged in a variety of ways, however they can be most useful to NYSUM’s outreach.
This trip will be similar to the 2015 trip in many ways. The team begins each day with fellowship, breakfast and details about the day’s projects, and at the end of the day, they debrief with worship, a devotional, a discussion about the day, and prayer–a great way to reset for the next day and help to process their experiences. Every day of service looks different; the team will go to various soup kitchens and food pantries in many different boroughs. Last year, Madera remembers, they filled bags with dog food to hand out for dogs. Even with a project so far removed from the people they seek to help, Madera notes that it felt great to know that they were helping keep a man’s best friend healthy. Every night the team ventures into the city with food, toiletries, and blankets to give to the homeless. Madera says that this was the most natural part for her, because it’s so similar to what YACHT does. There was only one service that really pushed her out of her comfort zone, which is notable, as she is comfortable leading YACHT, being an RA, and interacting with strangers on the street every week to offer food and company. One night, the team adopted a more evangelical approach to outreach by playing worship music in the subway system. The YACHT Club is not typically overt with their spirituality, choosing to minister through with actions instead of words. However, Madera recalls that the worship really did change the atmosphere of the subway and helped to inspire conversations with people taking cover in the subway or just waiting for their train. Since every day is different with this trip, there are many stories that can be shared, from overwhelming gratitude to being led to the right Bible passage at the right time. This year will certainly hold many more stories and much more fellowship. Take part by supporting the team with prayer, specifically for good weather, and more generally, about the relationships they will build and the concrete service they will provide.