Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thoughts On Mission Trip 2009 (Indianapolis, IN)

Just a collection of thoughts from our recent sojurn to Indianapolis, where 54 teens and adults spent a week ministering through three organizations (Shepherd Community, inner city day camp for impoverished kids; Third Phase, a women's shelter and food/clothing pantry; Rebuilding the Wall, inner city construction):
  • It was by far one of the hottest mission trip weeks we've ever experienced, and the work (especially at Rebuilding the Wall) was some of the toughest. And I never heard a complaint from any of the teenagers -- that's a miracle in and of itself!
  • Ministry can be both physical and relational, and quite often both intertwine (construction teens met a number of new people, while Shepherd folks would find themselves doing some physical tasks to help out).
  • For every one person who went on this trip to serve, at least three or four people were supporting them -- in prayer, financially, by preparing food, opening homes for showers, coordinating details, etc. Missions work is a HUGE chain of support, where everyone both serves and is served in turn.
  • As I said weeks before, we had Plan A for the trip, and God had Plan B. I hope we rolled with God's Plan B when it happened (and I think we did!).
  • Sleeping in a room with 26 teen boys can be scarier than any horror film.
  • Sometimes the best trips and events don't have to have high production values to be a huge success, just high relationship values.
  • I can honestly say this was the first mission trip that I enjoyed without hesitation from the beginning of planning unto the end. No depression, no major problems, and work that excited me instead of filling me with dread.
  • It is not up to us to triage people to help, sorting between the ones with the best personalities and most potential -- God wants us to love and help them all equally.
  • Even ministers can be ministered to!
  • Letting the teens run an impromptu worship service was a joy to behold... two and a half hours of singing, sharing, testifying and bonding. I think God was quite pleased with it.
  • This was easily worth four months of planning and details and last minute scrambles.
  • I want to curl up into a ball and sleep for six days straight. Maybe seven.
  • I had to throw out almost half of the ideas and programming I brought for the week, just due to a lack of time and being flexible with the schedule. It's frustrating that we didn't get around to all of it, but I'd rather be okay with cutting some than making everyone agitated by cramming it in when there wasn't room.
  • Small things -- like putting on a band-aid with a prayer written on it by an anonymous member -- can be the some of the most affecting.
  • I never expected it to be that hard to be apart from my son, even though I got to see him every other day or so. He really is part of my family.
  • A cool little God thing -- I had the teens write a short essay on Luke 10:1-24 about Jesus sending his disciples out on a mission trip, and during the week two different people (not from our group) were talking to the teens and used verses from that passage.
  • As the missionaries who came to speak to us on Friday said, you don't always have to know everything to know that God is calling you to the field and you just need to say "yes".
  • I loved seeing some new friendships form among the teens, and older ones repaired.
  • When it comes to our egos, there are two dangerous extremes: being too proud in your accomplishments without acknowledging God, and being too depressed in your failures without acknowledging God.

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