When you commit to a mission trip, you have to know that things may not go quite as initially planned. But choosing to go on a mission trip is not usually just a whim. It is usually because you feel a call to help others. So in truth, maybe it just didn’t go quite as YOU planned.
God showed us over and over this week that our presence was needed here. We started with no real idea how we would fill the week, and ended feeling like we had really gotten something done. Perhaps we might have been happier if we had worked 8 hour days or if we saw completed projects, but we were told before we came that we should not expect that. Just as others before us had begun the projects, others after us will finish them. But we were a necessary piece of the completed whole and proud to have done our part.
If we arrived here with a printed schedule for the week, today’s view of that same schedule would be difficult to read with all of the changes, red lines and redirections along the way. But with an understanding of who we are and why we are here, we were unfazed. The “why we came” was never dictated by the what we do – but by who we do it for. There may have been considerably more down time than any of us expected – and than many of us would have preferred. But without that down time, there would have been far less time to truly appreciate the magnificence of the beauty around us that was put there by the one who directed us here. And maybe that, too, was part of the plan.
There were so many more than just the 14 of us involved this week. With no showers here in the church, there were families in the community who every night opened their homes to us to shower – some even offering appetizers and sharing their lives with us. One couple in the church graciously paid for us all to enjoy dinner at a restaurant. Steve, JP and Steve from UMCOR and the people from Habitat all worked patiently with our skill levels and tirelessly to give us what we wanted, a full week of work. One church member, Chris, coordinated all that we needed for our living arrangements and she, and a small army of her friends, prepared a delicious dinner for us and spent that mealtime getting to know us just a bit.
We came here as a group held together by our love of God and desire to serve Him. As we got to know each other, we could tell when a team member needed some help – and someone jumped right in. We learned of our strengths and weaknesses – some cook, some write, some are great with a hammer – and accepted and valued each equally. We recognized who may need a little extra care and when someone just needed to be left alone. We learned who liked raucous laughter as evening entertainment, and who preferred a quiet card game. We shared laughter, tears, sweat and prayers and we leave here as friends.
So perhaps this trip went just exactly how it was planned. So many times this week people have expressed their gratitude; from the homeowners, to the Habitat workers, to the people from the church. But truly it is we who are grateful for the opportunity to answer God’s call to serve – we know that we are blessed to have been able to do so – and for this chance to fulfill our church’s mission to Make God’s Love Real.