Working with MUFI - Celeste Caton

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I have now had three full weeks serving with Motown Mission volunteers, and they have all been so incredibly awesome! Each week has been very different, bringing it’s own set of challenges and triumphs. I have had the privilege of working alongside nearly 150 volunteers, most of them being middle/high school-aged youth. And I have to say— it is quite amazing to see such determined and compassionate young people choosing to spend a week of their summer vacation to serve the city of Detroit.

The project site I have spent the most time working with has been the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. In the words of the non-profit, “MUFI is a non-profit organization that seeks to engage members of the Michigan community in sustainable agriculture. Using agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability, and community—while simultaneously reducing socioeconomic disparity—we hope to empower urban communities.”

I have been bringing youth to MUFI for two weeks now, and from what I have seen, this non-profit is doing an incredible job living out their mission statement. It has been awesome to witness how much the site has come along since our summer partnership between MUFI and Motown Mission began. It is especially great to see the youth collaborating and serving with this organization.

And even though at first glance it is awesome to see how great the site looks now compared to two weeks ago…in reality it’s the little moments that have contributed to this success which have impacted my heart the most. I mean let’s be real for a minute—it is not the most exciting thing in the world to spend hours upon hours pulling weeds, picking up trash, or removing rocks from the gardens. But that is exactly how our groups from the last week spent most of their first day. And it was done without complaint, without stopping, and with constant determination to get every little thing out of the ground that didn’t belong there.

One might say, “Celeste, this is really the story you chose to share? What about all of the land that was tilled? Or the insane amount of time spent cleaning out the old house? Or the huge loads of mulch and dirt that were shoveled?” But you see, it’s not necessarily the type of work that matters. What is truly important is the heart and the soul behind it. The hands that work with diligence and with love create space for better things to grow. The work these youth did is truly inspiring. At the end of the day we were drenched in sweat and covered by dirt and other little bits of earth, but it wasn’t from any kind of “glamorous” mission work we so often seek. Regardless, these kids knew that what they had done was good. Passerby’s were stopping along the way simply to tell them thank you for helping in bringing life back into the city, especially into their own community neighborhood.

The city of Detroit lives, my friends. Sometimes it just takes a small group of determined, hard-working youth to show you just what love really is. I am blessed to be spending a summer serving alongside people who teach me more and more about what the love of God put into action truly looks like. And it is good!