The final day of this year’s mission trip came quickly. Up early, we packed up, ate breakfast, cleaned up the church, filled out evaluations, took a few group pictures, got our trip t-shirts and hit the road about 9:20. We pulled into the church parking lot about 7:45 pm. Torrential rains going through Jacksonville, FL, but an easy trip otherwise.
Overall, it was a great trip. It is so easy to plug into a YouthWorks site for a summer mission trip. The team of Sam, Nathan, Tonia and Helen were well-matched, enthusiastic, great examples and leaders, and great people to get to know. Continue reading
Our last full day of the mission trip (Thursday, July 10) was a flip-flop of day three. My work crew spent our morning at Audubon Acres widening a trail, followed by an afternoon at the food bank, sorting donated food. We went through box after box of non-perishable food, everything from canned beans to fruit snacks. And pickles. Jar after jar after jar of pickles. (Note to self: just donate the basics — canned green beans and corn, pasta and sauce, tuna, peanut butter and cereal. Omit canned artichoke hearts, capers, cream of yuk soup, and pickles.)
Following our afternoon showers, we shopped for some Youth Enterprise shirts, went to Chester Frost park for the end-of-week community BBQ, and then came back to church for Club.
The last night of every YouthWorks trip ends up with footwashing for each group. We circle up in our respective church groups and the staff washes the feet of the leaders. Then, we leaders wash the feet and pray with each of our youth. It never fails to be an emotional and unforgettable part of the trip. It’s one thing to read about Jesus doing it. It’s another to experience it. I am thankful to have seen each one of our youth grow during the week. Afterwards, we our group talked about some of the lessons they learned. I think each point is profound:
(1) Don’t take today for granted. There’s no guarantee of a tomorrow.
(2) Jesus doesn’t pressure us to serve. He sets us free to serve.
(3) I wasn’t sure anyone liked me. I feel differently now.
(4) It’s nice to be with other believing youth. I don’t feel so alone.
Some profound lessons I believe a lot of us Christians need to be reminded of often. A number of our group said they would be interested in working as YouthWorks staff in the future. I think each of them would be great in that role!
On day four (Wednesday) our work crew took on some new projects, spending the morning at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank and then the afternoon at Audubon Acres.
The “Chatty Food Bank” is an amazing operation, a 40,000 square foot warehouse where one million pounds of food comes in and goes out every month. It supplies food to agencies in a twenty-two county area around them in Tennessee and Georgia. We were a little apprehensive after another group told us they spent their time throwing out rotten, maggot-infested potatoes. We were spared that duty. We spent the first hour packing up small bags of food that would be distributed to families. After we packed up about 135 of those, we moved on to filling bigger fifty-pound boxes. I think we loaded up five pallets of those. Continue reading
Day three in Chattanooga (Tuesday, July 8) took us to the beautiful 100-bed St. Barnabas Healthcare Center in the morning. We made some birthday door decorations for the residents and then attended the Tuesday healing and prayer service led by one of the chaplains. The service was attended by about two dozen residents who all enjoyed singing a variety of old gospel songs. After prayers, we chose our partners for “dancing with the starts,” holding their hands and swaying to some upbeat music. Evan got to talk to Ed, who goes by the nickname “Cadillac.” Ed is an avid sports fan with just about as much knowledge as Evan, and with just as strong opinions about the Heat, LeBron, draft picks and the like.