Summerlee Mission Trip
Safe and sound.
As we pulled into the motel this evening to check in, I turned to the two 14-year-old girls I brought with me – Shelby and Isabelle and told them this is not the norm for mission trips. Let’s see… I’ve slept on the ground in a tent, in a bunk room with 30 other women, cinder block rooms with no electricity and I’ve slept in everything from a sleeping bag to a hammock to sharing a bed with cockroaches the size of small mice. This seems like a vacation more than a mission trip – someone else is even going to make my bed and feed me dinner every night, I may never come home.
So, from the air-conditioned comfort of a nice firm bed and a full belly from a delicious dinner, I’m about to put my head to rest to ready myself for tomorrow. I’m not a morning person, so 5:15 AM will come quickly. I’m not a painter – I’m more of a messy artist, picture the Chef from the Muppets flinging and flying food every which direction while laughing and singing along – that’s me as a painter. But tomorrow, I’ll paint because that’s where my girls want me… and it isn’t about me, it’s about those we serve. And truth be told, I’m more of an introvert, so I do like my downtime, my alone time, my Netflix binging, my book reading, my playing Candy Crush and zone out time… woops I mean my 24-hour meditation and prayer time…. So, I am a bit out of my comfort zone, but I’m excited to see what God has in store next.
Night my friends!
I have two athletic children – they get all their athletic abilities from their dad, certainly not from me. One of the quotes that they both say quite often is
“Work Smarter Not Harder!”
And that’s good advice for life in general…
If given the choice, would you walk to the beach or drive… work smarter – take the car.
I’m always game for a home cooked meal, but let’s skip the fire and use the oven… skip the fishing and go straight to the seafood aisle and let’s be honest there’s no way I can be patient enough to wait for grapes to ferment into wine… I’ll buy the bottle please.
But all that truth goes out the window on mission trips. Years ago, in Mexico, we spent hours crushing rocks, making cement and then turning cement into cement blocks and then carrying blocks to the site and passing them down the line to be placed one by one to form a wall. I remember thinking… didn’t we pass a cement block store on the way down here? Can’t someone rent a lift, so we don’t have to haul these things across the field?
And I thought those same things today. Why are ten people scraping paint off the cement wall, doesn’t anyone own a power washer? Why am I painting the outside of the house with only a paintbrush, where’s the handy paint gun that my husband used when he painted our house in Charlotte. Why aren’t we working smarter… seems to me like we are merely working harder.
Those were my thoughts at about 8:30 this morning, then when I was scraping paint I started chatting with three newly graduated college students just starting out in the world, and then I got to spend some time sharing Nintendo Switch game stories with Ray and it went on from there.
You see… sometimes in mission work it isn’t always about how you get to the end result, but more about what happens along the way. And those are the stories, the memories, the lessons and the Gospel that happens only when you get down and dirty in the mud, the dirt, the paint and the cement that all our fancy technology can’t recreate.
It was a good day! We scraped, cleaned and painted the entire outside of a house where two adults live with no electricity and no running water (so the power washer wouldn’t have worked anyway.) The other team worked hard all day replacing siding on a house… with a lot of prep work today they should be able to finish up the job tomorrow. We’re a little sunburned, but nobody is complaining. Dinner was amazing – BBQ is always a favorite and we are all staying well hydrated. And I made a new friend in a lovely gentleman named Ronnie who thought on his feet and while I was painting the foundation where the rat kept running out, he stuffed his Gatorade bottle to save the day.
So, after Donna and I lost in Spades to mom and Ruth and Lee (the true card shark) it’s time for bed and to ready ourselves for another early morning wake up call.
Night My Friends
There are all sorts of people that lead mission trips.
Uber-Religious Robert: The one that believes their only purpose for a mission trip is to save souls and bring people to Christ. Don’t get me wrong… we are all ambassadors for Christ, but we also have to be the hands and feet of the one who sent us.
Self-Helping Sue: Believe it or not, some people go on mission trips to learn a new skill, build up their business, they use it to network and build themselves up. She makes sure everyone knows where she is and how’s she’s helping and social media is her tool for the week.
Steady Sam:He comes year after year because he has formed relationships with the people and community he serves. and the people he works with. He brings family and friends and works year round gathering supplies and readying himself for a week of service.
Practical Pam: She just wants to make a difference, she has some extra time and wants to meet the challenge of giving a bit more of herself to others,not for her own benefit but to further the work of Christ.
Vacationing Victor: This one sees it as a way to get away, see another part of the country or the world, they often expect to be waited on and thanked personally for their every move. You’ll never see them at the same place twice and sightseeing is their go-to on their day off.
Judgmental Judy: The judgmental ones are always asking… do they deserve this? Why aren’t they working? Why am I putting on a new roof if they are just smoking cigarettes? I don’t even have a TV that big, how come they do?
Mom and Dad Sent Me Mary: Begrudgingly they come, their cell phones in their hands, ignoring directions, watching the clock and complaining about the taste of everything from the water to the air to the homemade fried chicken for dinner…
Handyman Harry: He uses his hard earned vacation hours to get his hands dirty. He has talents galore and is willing to get his hands and knees dirty and work himself to the bone for the good of others.
Boss Man Bobby: Some just like to be in charge and back home they are good at lots of stuff, but their day to day job just doesn’t fulfill them… so leading a group allows them to use those many gifts.
Quiet Quinton: I love this guy. He is quick to listen and slow to speak. She watches first and acts second. But when you work side by side you see the person behind the veil and all the sudden you have a new friend.
Jokester Joe He always must be the center of attention, the best stories, the one-upper. Everyone likes him, he’s got no real skill, but he’s willing to work and he’s got friends on every crew. He keeps morale high.
Humble Hal: This guy is the real deal… he works hard, he takes the time to sit and chat with everyone, putting himself second, third and sometimes last. He is the first on the worksite and the last to leave.
I've always felt that not one of these fits me or even anyone on a mission team... but all of them hit home at times. Some days all i want to do is sleep, others I can't work enough, others I just want to sight see and some days I just wanna go home. But that's the beauty of the Body of Christ, because it always seems when I fail to pull my weight, someone else is carrying my load. For that ... for all of the mission team... for Christ and for you in prayer... I give thanks to our good and gracious God.