Listening to: Billie Holiday
Reading: plans and stories about Mission Northwest
Writing About: My favorite trip of all time
The Short Story
I’ve written before about how much I love our local mission trip. And here I go again, because it’s the best and I want to say more!
In 2009 the Student Ministry team at Crosspoint went on a local Mission Trip just outside of Tallahassee Florida, and we loved it. In 2010, we thought to ourselves – I’d bet we could do that here. So we did. This is what that year looked like.
5 sites, 32 people.
It was, by all accounts, a huge success and a ton of fun.
One testimony to the strength of the trip,
and the idea of partnering with local non-profits who already doing good work is the fact that today – 7 years later – every one of those sites is still represented on this year’s trip. %25 of the people on the list above are sleeping on cots right now at Mission Northwest as I write this (from home – suckas!). A few of them have been on the trip every year since year one.
Every year we have added sites, students, volunteers, ands staff hours. In many ways this year’s trip looks like a natural extension of that sheet (above). The sheet just goes much further in every direction. This is sheet 1 of 5 that organizes this year’s trip:
Our language has changed. We have never really been in Okaloosa (only) but now it sounds silly to define ourselves that way. So the trip is “Mission Northwest” (Florida, we live in Northwest Florida).
We don’t really talk about ‘sites’ anymore, we talk about ‘teams’ and ‘projects’ because so many of our teams end up doing multiple projects during the week.
20 teams, 30+ projects, 300 people. Same great ideas – but more so!
Some Plant, Some Water, God Makes Things Grow:
Numbers don’t tell you everything, but they do tell you something.
When people return, they are saying something about how they feel about this trip.
People keep coming back to this one, which is why it looks the way it does (now).
I don’t think it’s the work:
Some of the work we do is silly – we make cookies, we collate coloring sheets for foreign trips, we dig a lot of holes, students plan and gather supplies for events they put on (meaning – they sit around and get ‘in the weeds’ of a field day — “just how many cones will we need, 6th grade boy?”). Last year a team babysat my children (we were running low on projects at the end of the week).
The vast majority of our jobs are not sexy at all. Very few kids use power tools – and we all know people want to use power tools. We do whatever our partners ask us to do. Please don’t ask us to paint inside though, we suck at that.
I don’t think it’s the worship:
Shout out to Matt Hasty for bringing the worship experience of our trip to the next level. But, ultimately, students we serve can get great worship in a lot of places. A great concert, a fine tuned worship environment, a talented and holy group leading music – none of that would get you where this trip gets us. If you disconnected our worship services from the work – the magic would be gone. And I already said I don’t think it’s the work! But I do think it’s magic.
Every year, without fail, God does things in student’s lives that we couldn’t coordinate or manipulate. When we send teenagers out and ask them to act like Jesus, Jesus does neat things. It’s as simple as that.
When we do all of that in our own backyards it shows us something about what God is doing around us. It removes the ‘exotic’ veil of mission trips, which makes God’s work that much more surprising and meaningful.
Today I sent a team to put up a fence and I didn’t realize that they were going to meet the kid that fence would matter to three days later at another site. I coordinate sites, I sent them, and I did not do that neat thing.
I once asked a teacher to work with middle school students at a group home, that was 7 years ago. She is still doing it – all year long! I had no idea God would do that through her, I just needed a good leader.
There is so much space in this trip – time and circumstances that are beyond our control. Details we didn’t account for. That’s where we see God move.
I don’t feel at all nervous about sending students to non-profits that are doing great work in our community. Every year we do it, students act like Jesus.
We shouldn’t be surprised – we should be encouraged!
Our students make this a great experience for the sites we serve.
We send leaders to places they know nothing about, to do things they don’t know how to do, with students they just met.
We tell them to prepare to ‘hurry up and wait.’ We ask them to make it all meaningful. They interpret experiences, they guide students, they see and solve problems, they keep the gears turning.
They lose sleep, and they make it happen.
It’s very rare for us to have an individual’s home as a project. I could write more about this, but it’s not the point. The point is – our partners agencies are fantastic!
We know it costs them something to host us. They have to make plans, they have to put up with us on-site. Sometimes our work is good, sometimes it is not. But our partners always make space for our teams.
Honestly, I don’t know if they are better or worse after our week.
But I do know this – we are better for it!
God Continually Does Things in Our Lives, Our Church, and Our Community during Mission Northwest. It’s amazing.
I hope this thing never stops, (but I wouldn’t mind if it slowed down a bit!)