Spiritual Sandwich: Cultivating Compassion

Spiritual Sandwich: Cultivating Compassion

By Sean Neades, SSP Tsaile 2020 Site Director

Being the protagonists of our own stories, it is easy to get caught up in our own narrative. When we do this, we may unintentionally ignore or reject the suffering of others. In the midst of this new global pandemic, it is far too easy to focus our attention on all the ways the changes have affected our own lives: the canceled plans, the friends we miss, the luxuries we now may lack, and more.

As you reflect on ways to cultivate compassion in a time of uncertainty, begin this Spiritual Sandwich by reflecting on gratitude. Create a list of what you are grateful for.

As you cultivate gratitude in your own heart, consider these passages:

“You say, ‘I have the right to do anything.’ But not everything is helpful. Again you say, ‘I have the right to do anything.’ But not everything builds us up. No one should look out for their own interests. Instead, they should look out for the interests of others.”

– 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (NIRV)

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

– Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

In times where store aisles are empty of toilet paper and other essentials, finding ourselves confined to our homes, remember those in our communities who are constantly under-resourced in everyday life.

Consider the following:

  • Who does this pandemic directly impact the most?
  • What means do I have to provide for those most impacted?
  • What actions, small or large, can I take to protect vulnerable individuals and communities going forward?

As a part of the Sierra Service Project community, we are called to cultivate a compassionate spirit, sharing our time and resources with those in need. For the rest of the day, reflect on the resources you have at your disposal, which might be used for the benefit of those without.

Editor’s Note: Many youth groups and churches have opted to facilitate community by hosting online gatherings. However, we are also aware many youth leaders do not have the capacity or resources to arrange their own gatherings at this time. If your congregation wants to invite others in the SSP community to participate in any of your remote gatherings, contact us! We are happy to add your event to our online calendar.


Spiritual Sandwich: Song in Desperate Times

Spiritual Sandwich: Song in Desperate Times

By Ryan Forletta, SSP San Diego 2020 Site Director


Despite not being on the construction site like normal, this spiritual sandwich is aimed at bridging the distance between communities that formerly were able to gather together. Here at Sierra Service Project, we hope we will be able to continue forming intentional communities, even amidst distance.

Personally, I find music has the ability to form these communities no matter the distance. This Bible passage has been a helpful reminder for me to sing and give thanks daily:


“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (These are desperate times! MSG)

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– Ephesians 5:15-20 (NIV)


In these trying times, we are invited to make the most of every opportunity and live wisely. At the end of the passage, a suggestion is made for how to live life in trying times: song and praise!

Consider the following:

  • How has music played a role in your life? What is your interaction with music like today?
  • What music do you play when you are sad?
  • How does your favorite song make you feel?
  • Do you and a friend share a song you both love, listened to on repeat on a road trip, or that defined your summer? When do you play this song and how does it make you feel?

At Sierra Service Project, song and worship are an integral part of the summer. Personally, I have never felt more love in one place than on a quiet summer night singing; hearts united as one.

I’ll leave you with an inspiring excerpt from the song I am the Light of the World, by Jim Strathdee:

To bring hope to every task you do,
To dance at a baby's new birth,
To make music in an old person's heart,
And sing to the colors of the earth

As you continue your day, reflect on how music can help you during these times. Think about how you can share music and love with others despite physical distance. Whether you send a special song to a friend or give a relative a call, we can bring hope to every task we do through music and praise.


Editor’s Note: One of the most celebrated parts of SSP’s programs has always been evening song time. As one way to bring communities together from afar, we hope to launch several live song time sessions! Tune in to SSP’s Facebook to connect with others via music, coming soon.

Spiritual Sandwich Introduction

Spiritual Sandwich Introduction

By SSP Headquarters Staff

The reality of how community is formed and nurtured in the modern age has dramatically shifted with the introduction of COVID-19, and subsequent social distancing to prevent its spread. We are intimately aware of the toll this can take on individuals and faith communities endeavoring to maintain connection and encourage one another during this time.

During this season, we will offer up a “Spiritual Sandwich” every week to discuss with your loved ones and faith communities, written by SSP staff over the ages. We invite you to share in fellowship and reflection on these questions with family, friends, in person at home, or over video chat with your faith community!

For those new to Sierra Service Project, a Spiritual Sandwich is typically a lunchtime team discussion held at the SSP worksite over PB&J sandwiches, as volunteers break from a hard day’s work. Just like you would at SSP, you may delegate one discussion facilitator to be the “spiritual guru” in guiding the conversation.

Some best practices to keep in mind as you hold these Spiritual Sandwich discussions are:

  1. Mutual invitation: Create opportunities for everyone’s voice to be heard by taking turns intentionally inviting others to speak. Start with the person facilitating the conversation.
  2. Respect sharing: Honor the safe space you create in your group by avoiding “cross-talk” in the group setting. This means sharing from a place of personal reflection on your own life, rather than offering advice in response to something another person has shared.
  3. Silence can be holy: It’s okay to hold space for silence and reflection, rather than immediate responses to a question.

Spiritual Sandwich: Strengthening Community Through Service

In this time of slowing down, we ask you to prayerfully reflect on the act of strengthening community. You can do this through the lens of your experience partnering with SSP:

  • What is your favorite way to serve others?
  • What draws or motivates you to serve others?
  • How is your faith reflected in your personal acts of service?
  • How have you seen service to others done well this week?
  • In what ways can you serve others well in your local context today?

End by sharing a hope each person has for the upcoming week.


Editor’s Note: We are collecting submissions for spiritual sandwiches from current and former staff, as well as evening devotional content from youth volunteers that can be shared with the SSP network! Submit your creative ideas, so we can continue to build community together.


SSP Summer 2020 Program Update

The heart of Sierra Service Project is community, working side by side with new and old friends and our neighbors. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize both individually and organizationally the obligation we have to protect the health and safety of our volunteers, staff, and host communities.

With support from SSP’s Board of Directors and in the spirit of our mission, we currently plan to host all summer sessions as scheduled. Closer to the summer we will have more information to make further decisions in the event we need to alter summer operations. We are actively preparing for contingencies to ensure volunteers and staff could safely serve alongside the communities we work with. We will continue to monitor as the situation evolves each day.

The ongoing work of SSP is as important as ever: home repairs keep people safely in their homes as they age in place, and volunteers bring renewed hope in seasons of hardship. We have big plans to make an impact with our community partners in 2020, and offer meaningful service opportunities for youth and adult volunteers during our 45th year of service.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, SSP relies not only on volunteer participation fees to sustain our work with underserved communities, but on generous donations from individual and institutional donors. Donations currently make up 50% of our annual budget, allowing us to invest in our summer program through careful planning and preparations all year round. The services that SSP provides to youth and families in need are heavily underwritten by generous donors, so that we are able to offer lower fees for volunteers to participate.

Volunteers are charged a fee of between $365-$455 for our week-long summer program, but the program costs us $727 per participant to carry out! Consider making a donation to Sierra Service Project during this season, to ensure we are set up to carry out strong programs for decades to come.

We thank you for your patience as we navigate a constantly evolving situation. We will make another announcement in the next few weeks with updated information.

Thank you,
Megan Walsh
Executive Director


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SSP Content Submission Form

We are asking SSPers of all backgrounds to submit creative content so we can share a library of resources for community building in this season!


SSP Content Submission Form


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