Camden: Day 2; Night 3

And we walked. Traveling all across the streets of Philly, our shoes aged by the minute, leaving us ragged, yet satisfied. Yes, it was a momentous day, full of picturesque views and a culture that wasn’t in the least bit intimidating. To say I fell in love with the city would be of audacious accord, but it certainly stole a place in my memory. I hope to go back someday; I’d like to meet more people, if I could.

Before I get ahead of myself, I must state that half of our day was filled being a part of a volunteer group at Urban Promise. It was optional, but we reasoned that if we flew this far out here and didn’t participate in everything we could, we’d be cheating ourselves, as well as our donors. So we headed out at 8:40, cruised down the now familiar roadways, and arrived with ten minutes to spare.

We were split into groups, only to find that we were placed with a local church consisting of a mom and three kids. They were all in high school, on the verge of graduation. The mother was easily the most interesting character, though. Having grown up all over the US, Germany, and South Africa, she certainly had a few stories to tell. Moreover, she was a missionary in Africa for ten years before coming back to the east coast to start a family. Her rugged attitude showed sign of a strong woman, but her interaction with her only daughter showed a softness that is rare around these parts. They were proud of each other. And they deserve all the respect in the world for that.

Our job was to dig up dead trees, rake the whole campus, and tear out withered plants from the garden. It took about four hours, but was done in the midst of fine conversation and occasional lemonade breaks. I’m always overjoyed to see the Church acting as it should, and I can attest that it’s most definitely active in this city.

As for Philly, two of the interns at UP took us out, one of with was from Scotland, and the other from Camden itself. They were far too kind to us, and gave their entire afternoon to chauffeuring us around. We took the tram from Collingsville, a city outside of Camden, into Philadelphia in only a matter of minutes. Once there, we emerged from underground to find looming buildings surrounding us from all around. It’s much cleaner than Seattle, as well as bigger, but aside from that I didn’t notice many differences. It was as bustling as ever, not nearly as cold as anticipated, and had an authenticity about it that I hope resonates for quite some time. It wasn’t as predominantly white as most other places I have been as well – something I appreciated thoroughly.

I saw loads of Amish people, too! Super interesting culture… they had a couple shops in Philly for what is equivalent to Seattle’s Pike Place. I would have loved to sat and talked with one. I hear I can go to an area up north where I can pay them to give me a tour on a horse and they’ll tell me all about their lifestyle. Yes, please.

In walking around Philly, I also realized that history isn’t nearly as interesting to me as culture. I can appreciate the archaic richness to this founding city, but the people are what do it for me. Their antics, mannerisms, interactions, and great sense of urgency when it comes to efficiency – these are all beautiful things I duly admire. Especially while driving. I think I’ve finally found a place that can keep up with the style of driving I prefer: skillfully reckless. Some may call that an oxymoron, but I simply call it truth.

Tomorrow we are going to have church with a very multi-cultural, charismatic congregation. Or so we hear. It’s supposed to be around fifty people total and have music in all sorts of different languages. How cool is that? Perfectly refreshing before our long and joyous week of teaching the kiddos. Did I mention I’m going to be the art assistant for the week?

The infamous ugly people I draw have come to the east coast. It’s gonna go viral, people.

Our view upon coming out from the tram station. These towering buildings were gorgeous.

We were at a park as the sun was beginning to set. I'd read many a book here if I had the chance.

This is a British something or other. It is still a puppy as well, the owner told me, and already weighs 250 pounds! It's fur sure feels like a hamster's, though...


The picture looked a lot better on my camera, oddly enough, but this is of the south district of Philadelphia. The houses reminded me a lot of those in 101 Dalmatians, or, that is, London. It was probably the brick houses adjacent to brick sidewalks and roads.

Here is a rough image of Harry Potter I drew. All the kids in Camden will be drawing the same thing by the end of the week. I don't think I could give a greater gift.


~ by Chris Kyle on December 11, 2010.

3 Responses to “Camden: Day 2; Night 3”

  1. I can’t wait to keep reading these. 🙂 Praying for you my friend!

  2. Chris,
    I am so excited to follow this experience, but I’m very concerned by your misleading of these children to believe that Ugly People are acceptable artwork.

  3. I’m so glad that your time in Camden has started well! Don’t listen to Kali, I’m very excited at the prospect of the Ugly People traveling to the East Coast. Of course, based on your most recent post, I guess that might not happen. At any rate, I’m praying for you guys and look forward to more updates about how God is at work in Camden.

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