Someone asked me if I was sure I wanted to go on the mission’s trip to Fargo, North Dakota. I said you bet I do! This is the only trip during the year that the high school and the middle school are combined for one purpose. It brings them together to bond. This was Trey’s favorite trip of the year since 6th grade. It taught him how to be a better servant.
I find it humorous that what Trey tweeted one year ago yesterday fits every mission trip we’ve gone on – “Things can change in a blink of an eye, but knowing that it is nothing that my God can’t handle, takes away all unnecessary worries!” You see, we always leave with an agenda for the week of where we will working, singing, staying, and sometimes God has other plans.
North Dakota is having very cool weather for this time of the year. And on top of that, there were threats of thunderstorms during the week. That’s like us having threats of tornadoes. With the land as flat as it is, flooding is very damaging.
On Monday, the plan was to sing at two nursing homes and do their chapel services. Both buses ended up at one nursing home. Half the group sang and half the group did the puppet show. We all then came together and sang for their chapel time. The nursing home residents were so blessed by our being with them. We loved watching them sing along with us…they just grinned! We had some women that really liked our young men!
We spent the afternoon in a park for lunch. It was really cold. At least for us. This is when we had the opportunity to play elbow tag. It was fun to watch the new kids (young and old) learn this favorite game. It took me back to one of the last times Trey played and the two people I have pictures of Trey linked arms with, one picture with his buddy Daniel Roberts and one picture with Bryn Norton, Ron’s daughter. He loved Bryn and Conleigh. At first, when the game started, Collin went up into the gym set by himself and did not play. I joined him to check on him knowing that something was bothering him. All I did was sit with him. All it took was mama just being there for a minute and being with her son and then he said, I think I’ll go play. We both knew Trey was missing.
We spent the rest of the afternoon canvassing the neighborhood for the block party for Tuesday evening. The kids had so much fun. You always say if you only reach one person for Christ, that’s one more in the kingdom. There was a little girl with a lemonade stand. It was cold outside and every door my group went to was closed. But one of our groups encountered the little girl with the lemonade stand. Her daddy told her that she would not find anyone that would drink her lemonade but she was determined to put it up. Drew saw her first and talked to her. He told her that he knew of some people that would buy her lemonade. So one of our groups came to her stand and wiped her out while Tim Brown, the pastor we were working with, had the opportunity to speak to the father. God used the little girl and her lemonade stand.
Monday evening we went to the RedHawks ballgame! We were so proud of Tim Few who sang the national anthem! Ron danced for his dinner on the field (and won), and Drew and Caleb Howe dressed in chicken suits and raced across the field! Ballgame, embarrassing your leaders, hotdogs, foul balls, and lots of fun!
Tuesday began with a little confusion. Both busses ended up at Churches United for the Homeless. One bus was going to go the service project and one bus was going to go canvass. This is not what God had planned. The homeless shelter has a clothes closet for the homeless. There were bags and bags and bins that needed to be sorted and hung up or sorted. The kids worked so hard all morning.
At lunch we took the kids the to Space Aliens for some fun arcade and food time. At that time, Tim had been watching a storm system come in. It was decided to cancel the block party for the evening. We went back to Churches United to keep working.
Tuesday night we went to a local church to eat sandwiches and play games. The outpouring of hospitality by the local churches for us to meet at the last minute was so impressive.
Wednesday morning we did the same thing. We went back to Churches United. There were kids restocking the kitchen, fixing a bathroom leak, stocking shelves with baby clothes, and hanging women’s and men’s clothes.
At lunch, our kids cooked for their residents and we surrounded the room and sang. Once the residents had been fed, our food was not ready and we had to keep singing. Some residents were singing along, some were crying. I couldn’t help but cry. It was June 5, exactly 11 months since Trey had died. Many adults knew and few of the kids realized it or recognized it. It was a sweet time to surround the people that we had been working for so hard. The remark was made that what we did would have taken them all summer to get accomplished.
The afternoon was spent with the groups being spent being split between canvassing for another block party and working at the Dorothy Day House which is a place for homeless to low income families to come to purchase food. This group spent the afternoon stocking shelves of donated food.
Wednesday at 6 pm was our block party! We had a baseball and soccer clinic led by Duffy Guyton, crafts led by Karen Stonebrook, puppets led by Ben Lane, inflatables, games, free food, face painting, nails, it was all there! God held off the rain till it was time to leave at 8 pm.
We headed to Temple Baptist like we did every night to debrief. This was my favorite part of the week. Drew led this time of the week and asked the students different questions. The first question was what’s the one thing that someone did that you would like to encourage them publicly about? The kids were raising their hands so fast you couldn’t keep up with them. Some of them might have seemed so small to others but they were so important to that person. This is the time that you sit back and see what bonds your group together after working so hard all day. Kids from the age of 12/13 to 18.
The second question was what will make tomorrow better than today? What we heard most – attitudes. Everyone would get so tired during the day and it was easy to get cranky. We pushed and pushed water!
The last question was what did God speak to you during your time with Him personally? We spent a lot of time on this subject. I’d like to keep this between the group. God has His hand on our group. He kept us safe from injury, from illness, and most of all, the kids realized that no matter what we have planned, everything is in God’s plan, in His time, for His purpose.
That’s why I think it’s so ironic that just one year ago yesterday Trey tweeted about God changing things so quickly and we should not worry about it. Did he know something we didn’t know? I don’t think so. I just think he had a little better insight to how life can change so quickly, just like for so many of the homeless we served.
We never know where God will lead us tomorrow. Part of our devotion time this week was from Isaiah 6:8-10. “Then I heard the voice of The Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” The rest of that scripture goes on say how God told Isaiah to tell the people, “Listen hard, but you aren’t going to get it; look hard, but you won’t catch on.”
We know some are not going to get it. I remember having this conversation with Trey and how frustrated he would get that people just didn’t get it! As long as we answer the call to go, plant the seed, just as we did this week, God will come behind and fertilize what has been planted.
I am so proud of every student that answered the call for this trip and worked so hard. We saw so many changes in students. Our next goal – extend the mission field to Germantown as we did in North Dakota. Learn to serve our own.