So far this year, we have talked about forgiveness. It remains a very worthwhile conversation to have as it pertains to the Christian faith. It was Martin Luther who believed our ability to forgive is evidence that we have received and embraced God’s forgiveness in our own lives. Next month I will write a bit on the cousin of forgiveness- civility. But, this month, let’s have some fun! I would like to share with you a bit about the recent Mission trip because we go on mission trips representing you, our church family.
As you may have heard, this year we traveled to New Bern, Carolina to help rebuild after the devastating hurricane last summer. There were 23 individuals in all, four from this church, and the others from other churches in the Presbytery. We had the pleasure of borrowing a van from Baynet; turns out, they lent us their brand new one! We put 3500 of the first 5000 miles on that van. They are generous beyond words. We took two days to make the trip; the first night we stopped in Indianapolis, IN. The second day we wound our way through the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Virginia, and drove the length of North Carolina.
Arriving in New Bern, we stayed in a large Assembly of God church that had also been ravaged by the storms. The place we stayed had no ceiling, flooring or roofing, but they welcomed us. We all admired the congregation and pastor for their willingness to house relief workers, even as their own building was being repaired. Breakfast was cereal. We made our own lunches and ate at the job site. Members of their congregation made most suppers for us in a large gymnasium that was serving as their temporary sanctuary.
I worked on a crew led by Chuck Whiting putting the finishing touches on “Rita’s” house. Most of the drywall had already been replaced; we painted, hung doors, and trimmed. By the time we left, the house was really looking nice. We believe it was two or three days away from Rita being able to move back in. Rita came to visit once a day, but she never came inside the house. I finally asked her why she wouldn’t come in. She said she wanted to be “surprised”. And, she will be. Instead, she would make small talk about the weather, job, and community, but what she really wanted to know was what we wanted for dessert. She would make off-handed statements about things she likes to bake and watch the workers’ reactions. Then, the most sought-after dessert would show up that night. We had peach pie, apple pie, blueberry pie- really, too many to name. The new home, after the flood had ravaged it and loving hands had rebuilt it, will be the clear standout of the whole block.
Why? Why do we travel to the ends of the country to rebuild homes and lives? If you ask the 23 people who went, I am sure you will receive 24 or more answers! But, I can speak to my own reasons. First, I live a blessed life. I am thankful for this things God has done in my life. So, I am happy to return some time, energy, and sweat as a way of thanking God. And it’s a great way to grow in faith and character. Living and working in close proximity is the definition of getting out of our comfort zone. In the weaving together of diverse people, workstyles, and faith commitments that we have the best chance to grow in faith and character. A mission trip might help you learn
valuable trade skills- it will definitely show you your own shortcomings, drive you deeper into prayer, and make you more dependent on Christ’s mercy.
But, perhaps the best reason to go could be found in the faces of the people we met. When we arrived, we were greeted with faces filled with joy, relief, grief, and concern. We joined with other helpers from all over the country. Now, whether they you are from the north, the south, or anywhere in between, we all know we are not alone.